South Cotabato’s T’boli town now producing jewelries

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/27 October)—Finally, a jewelry-making industry is now in place in the mineral-rich town of T’boli, South Cotabato.

Public and private partners recently launched the project to add value to the small-scale mining operations existing in this town in the last three decades.

JEWELRY. Makeshift tents of small-scale mining operators dot the mountains of Barangay Kematu in T’boli, South Cotabato. A jewelry-making equipment was recently turned over to beneficiaries so the gold will be processed there into fashionable pieces. MindaNews photo by Bong Sarmiento

Gold, either produced legally or illegally, is usually sold to buyers in its raw form and brought outside the town, which is home to the T’boli tribe.

But hopefully not anymore now as a P378,000 jewelry-making equipment has been turned over to 20 beneficiaries in Barangay Edwards “to make authentic T’boli gold earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and other fashionable items.”

The T’boli local government in fact wants to develop jewelries as the centerpiece of its “One Town, One Product” thrust.

Constancio Paye, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 12 director, said that since mining is a major activity in the town due to its abundant silver and gold deposits, there should be value-adding by converting them right away into fashion materials.

“As the first jewelry project in the region, this is a big chance for the community to sustain their income through this jewelry-making project,” he stressed.

The venture hopefully will also become a tourism drawer for the municipality, Paye said.

The jewelry-making project is expected to benefit villagers from Desawo and Kematu, where the estimated 2.4 million tons of gold and silver lie.

Under the Social Development Management Fund of the foreign-backed Tribal Mining Corporation (TMC), villagers will be trained to become jewelry makers.

Lawyer Eumir Tiamzon, TMC president and chief executive officer, challenged the beneficiaries to create authentic jewelries that embody the culture of the T’boli tribe.

“Let us spread the feel of Tboli [culture] in these jewelries,” Tiamzon said.

MGB Assistant Secretary Elmer Billedo believed that with the help of the other government agencies, local government unit and private partners, T’boli will land in the jewelry map of the Philippines.

Billedo, an earth science expert, said the jewelry-making project “is a decent business that should be a source of pride for the townsfolk.” (MindaNews)