Manicani: Realizing the promise of a better life

MANICANI ISLAND — In the island, basketball competitions between its four barangays (Banaag, Buenavista, Hamorawon and San Jose) are heating up.

The stakes are high. If Barangay Banaag wins the final game, it gets a covered court; the only barangay without such comfort.

“Pag nagkaroon ng covered court ang barangay, laking ginhawa ito sa amin,” Marvin Projimo, 29, a player of Banaag, said.

“It used to be that our barangay officials will solicit funds for prizes. When Hinatuan Mining Corporation came to the island, we were no longer playing for a minimal sum but for the chance to have community facilities, a prize to be shared with everyone not just among players,” he added in the vernacular.


Manicani Island was one of the hardest hit towns when typhoon Yolanda slammed the country in 2013.

While the island suffered one casualty, all houses were either washed out or heavily damaged.

“We had to seek higher ground behind the school. After the typhoon passed, we went back to our barangay but our houses were no longer there.” Projimo said, “The island was beyond recognition.”

Help was slow to come and they had to make do with whatever salvageable material there were to build temporary shelters for island residents.

“Those were dark times. But HMC and Nickel Asia Corporation came to our rescue.”

All in all NAC and HMC were able to build 430 houses in the island, even for residents who protested the mining firm’s presence in Manicani.


On May 17, 2016 MGB Region VIII director Nonita Caguioa issued an Ore Transport Permit for HMC allowing shipment of 62,000 metric tons of nickel ore to China.

“This OTP is issued based on the Letter of Authority to Dispose Nickel Ore Stockpiles of MGB Central Office dated July 1, 2014 as these materials may cause siltation and water pollution along the seashore,” read the permit obtained from NAC.

As a result, several residents and anti-mining groups are once again up in arms decrying the “reopening” of HMC operations.

However, Caguioa has already clarified in a dialogue with Alyansa Tigil Mina and Akbayan held March 7, 2016, that the OTP does not mean a resumption of operations of HMC. The OTP is renewable every month and is applied for by the buyer of the stockpile.

The disposition of the stockpile guarantees temporary employment for an estimated 400 residents of Manicani and continuity of the Social Development and Management Program of HMC, according to Jose Bayani Baylon, VP for Corporate Communications of NAC.

“Majority of residents is alright with the OTP. There are a handful who are not. I wish they could just leave us alone to our work and allow us to make a decent living for our families,” Projimo, a regular HMC employee lamented, adding his father and three other brothers have been contractually employed by the mining firm.

Barangay San Jose chief Arcesmo Arseno expressed the same sentiment.

“Ang tagal ko umasa sa anti-mining movement, na sila ang tatapos sa aming paghihirap. Palagi ako sa rally, hinaharang ang operations ng HMC. Pero pag-uwi ko, nakataob naman ang kaldero. Walang makain,” Kap Arsing said.

His change of heart did not happen overnight.

“Matagal ko pinagaralan ang proseso ng responsableng pahmimina bago ko ito natanggap,” he stressed.


Projimo worked four years in Manila before he was hired by HMC to be a caretaker in the tree nursery in 2011. He is now a mechanic, being able to practice his degree in BS Industrial Technology (major in Automotive) which he obtained as a scholar from the Eastern Samar State University in Guiuan.

“Unemployment will only mean more residents leaving for the mainland, in Manila. We know how difficult it is there,” he said.

It was last year when HMC organized residents into a cooperative to help them eke out a living while waiting for the OTP to come through.

“We are hoping for more livelihood projects and programs in education under the SDMP,” Projimo said.

Projimo’s barangay also went on to win the championship game, winning the covered court and P100,000, a welcome development for residents of this beloved island who are only beginning to realize their potentials and dreams of a better life.

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