Paracale, a municipality in the province of Camarines Norte, Philippines, is a place where gold is in such abundance that the town's name itself reflects its history in mining. Paracale was derived from para cale, meaning "canal digger."
"For as long as I can remember, artisanal gold mining has been a part of our town's history - if you grew up here, I wouldn't be surprised if you've most likely been involved in various parts of the gold trade in one way or another." - Serafin Dasco, President of the Federation of Miners Association
At present, mining activities are scattered throughout the 27 barangays of the municipality of Paracale, with the majority of the population involved in artisanal and small-scale gold mining activities (ASGM). In Camarines Norte, ASGM provides livelihood opportunities for approximately 11,000 families. In Paracale, it is estimated that over half of the total population are engaged in Small Scale Mining (SSM), either as a mine worker, financier, processor, independent gold panner, or in the many support services business. Many residents choose to work in different aspects of ASGM to gain financial independence and acquire new wealth.
“For many people who live here in Paracale, engaging in gold mining is the best and the easiest option to earn good money. Your earning potential is so much better than getting a regular job in the city. To further support my family’s income, I also plant paddy and tend to my coconut trees when I’m not working at the mines." - Vicente, small miner and farmer in Paracale
Paracale's Proud Heritage in Artisanal Gold Mining and Craftsmanship
Paracale's residents recognize and celebrate the town's identity as a "gold town" and embrace it as a source of pride. The town emblem of Paracale features a miner's hat, pickaxe, and shovel, symbolizing the importance of gold mining, alongside a symbol of a fish and a boat, symbolizing the town’s popularity as a fishing spot and tourist destination for its sandy beaches.
The municipal building of Paracale features a mini-museum proudly displaying ornate and unique jewelry pieces made from locally sourced gold, highlighting the craftsmanship of local artisans. Every last week of January until the second day of February, the province also hosts a colourful festival celebrating the importance of gold mining in the town called "Pabirik Festival", named after the process of gold panning called pagbibirik in Filipino, which features ASGM-themed parade floats.