Shy, quiet, and simple – these are the words often used to describe Aira when she was a child. At first glance, Dinapigue Mining Corporation (DMC) Junior Geologist Aira Marie V. Perez may seem like your typical probinsyana, but there is more to her story than meets the eye.


Aira, as her friends affectionately call her, comes from a humble family. Her father, Jurdson R. Perez, is a farmer for most of his life while her mother, Darryl V. Perez, is a Municipal Planning and Development Officer at the local government level.

From elementary until high school, Romblon was Aira’s entire world and her life is what she describes as simple.

“Kapag hapon naglalakad lang ako pauwi from school. Namimitas kami ng mga bayabas kapag nakikita namin, and walang malls sa amin. Basic needs lang talaga ang mayroon ako growing up. Noong high school ang luma ng mga libro namin na tinatahi-tahi nalang namin," Aira said.

She dreamed of being a doctor and taking up either nursing or medical technology as her pre-med program, but due to financial constraints, that dream was sidelined.

Since Aira’s mother worked in the local government, she got to interact with local geologists and learned about their work. Despite one door closing for her, another one opened - all thanks to her mother which is why Aira is a firm believer that mother knows best.

“Geology is not my first choice pero as I went along, I took the path available to me, took the risk, and see what happens. I had nothing to lose. Whatever I choose, may mate-take ako na learning. Whether I fail or succeed, at least I have ownership of the outcome and this is where I am now," she said.

In 2017, Aira took her on-the-job training at FCF Minerals Corporation. It was there that she first learned to appreciate the work atmosphere and discipline required in the mining industry.

Early Career

Upon graduating in May 2018, Aira’s first job as a geologist was at Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company where she handled core logging, drilling, and mapping.

After her stint with Lepanto, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Aira was in between jobs for a few months but eventually found employment with Alad Mining in Romblon. However, it was four hours away from home which made it difficult for her.

She finished working for Alad Mining after six months and got an opportunity to work with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in MIMAROPA as a Science and Research Specialist where she handled complaints about illegal quarrying.

After years of experience, Aira is now working as a Junior Geologist for DMC, a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corporation.

On Being a Woman

The mining industry is a field that has long since been dominated by men.

“Noong college ako, sinasabihan na kami ng professors namin na male-dominated ang geology. Napansin ko nga na noong nag-aaral ako, mas malaki ang ratio ng lalaki sa babae and noong nagsimula ako mag-work for Lepanto, tiyaka lang nag sink-in na ganito nga talaga ang industry," said Aira.

But the glass ceiling was just never something that came to mind for her. According to Aira, she never experienced the harassment of women she’d often hear about not just in the mining industry, but in any field.

“Hindi man ako nakaranas ng harassment, naramdaman ko naman yung discrimination during interviews. Tinatanong ako kung kaya ko ba magbuhat? Maputi daw ako magtatagal ba ko sa initan? Kaya mo ba mag-handle ng mga tao lalo na kung puro lalaki?,” she recalled.

Growing up shy, Aira was nervous about having to lead people but she took this as a challenge to improve herself. Aira has worked with drillers, dump truck drivers, and equipment operators, and she was always given the due respect and professionalism she deserved.

“Even noong nasa MGB ako, tuwing magfi-field kami kasama yung mga forest ranger ng CENRO (Community Environment and Natural Resources Office), napansin ko na bihira ako nagkaroon ng kasama na babae. Laging mga lalaki ang kasama ko,” she said.

Being a woman in the mining industry was a scary endeavor for Aira at first, but her experience has made her brave.

Working for DMC

As a Junior Geologist for DMC, Aira expected to handle exploration and mining geology, but to her surprise, she was also allowed to practice resource estimation.

“Hindi lahat ng geologist nabibigyan ng chance to learn resource (estimation) and that’s something I never learned in school,” Aira said.

Aira enjoys working for DMC because of the company’s positive social image that she first witnessed in another subsidiary of NAC in Palawan, the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC).

“Comfortable is my word for NAC – comfortable ako to be an employee of NAC kasi provided everything you need, wala na akong iisipin apart from work and I also like kung paano mag-provide si NAC lalo na sa social development na nakikita ko sa RTN noong nasa MGB pa ako. Nakita ko yung growth ng community sa Rio Tuba, and I believe 'yon din ang mangyayari sa DMC,” she said.

More than the social contributions that the company is able to provide to its host communities, Aira also loves the work-life balance in the company, and how many of her peers in college work with her, making workloads lighter than they seem.

Message for Women

“I highly recommend the mining industry, especially to other women. It will build your confidence, especially when you can prove to yourself na kaya mong gawin beyond what is expected from you being a woman. Let’s put more women in the industry and champion women’s rights,” Aira said.

The geologist believes that if you want a challenge, you can find that in the mining industry, given that communicating the benefits that the industry provide is a challenge in itself.

Share this article