Some 4 years after taking on the job, Jennifer says she still elicits that look of surprise when she answers questions on what she does for a living.

Jennifer Inting is 27 years old and she’s a truck driver -- that is, a heavy-duty dump truck driver -- at the mine site at Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC). HMC is an affiliate of Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC).

“Nagugulat pa po sila, pag sinabi ko na dump truck driver ako,” she would meekly say.

In 2013 Jen was a checker for HMC when she was told of an opportunity in the company for a better paying job – as a mining dump truck driver. She only knew how to drive a motorbike, and haven’t held a steering wheel of any other vehicle in all her life. But HMC was in an aggressive campaign at the time – to give their women employees the skills that before were reserved only for men – and Jennifer was in a good place at the right time

“Women in a man’s world” was a big deal, and perhaps in some countries it still is. Though we still hear accounts of discrimination, of sexism and intolerance, there are many inspiring stories in the Philippines – women pilots, lady CEOs, lady tricycle drivers and law enforcers, and like in Hinatuan Mining, there are many women in mining who are doing various “light” jobs and “hard” jobs such as driving heavy equipment at the mine sites.

Today, the 13th of July, Jennifer leaves for Thailand to compete with other truck drivers from other countries in Volvo’s search for a representative to the South East Asia Fuelwatch Challenge to be held in Sweden later this year. She will be with another lady truck driver, Alma Bonita, who is from another mine, Cagdianao Mining Corporation (CMC), also an affiliate of NAC.

Alma is 35, married with kids. She too is a dump truck driver but has started training to become a backhoe operator for CMC. If Jen at least knew how to drive a motorbike before she transitioned to truck driving, Alma didn’t know how to drive altogether.

If there is one thing significantly in common with the two ladies, it is their timid, unassuming presence in front of people. It is only when they are on top of their 20-tonnage, heavy-duty, Volvo dump trucks, hauling ores at the mine sites, that one sees the full display of confidence and control.

Although many women have broken the proverbial barrier, the image of Jen against her truck when she checks oil and tire condition, or of Alma as she steers the mammoth vehicle being loaded with ore, is still awesome to behold.

The two ladies are travelling outside the country for the first time. They have been heavily training on the job these past weeks in preparation for their big moment in Thailand. They were chosen from among many dump truck drivers working at the mine sites because they are the best – though they refuse to acknowledge that this was the reason.

Jen thinks she was chosen because she no longer gets nervous in whatever situation when she drives her unit. She didn’t know she was being closely monitored for her performance. She does her thing as expected of her as an employee. She attends toolbox meetings every day, without fail, at 6:30 AM sharp to be given her work line up and to be reminded of every important thing to be mindful of while at the mine site, most importantly on safety. She checks her truck every time before she starts her duty – lights, air, oil, horn.

Both Jennifer and Alma know were apprised of the rules of the competition. They will be judged on how safe they drive their dump truck on various trails and on how efficient they consume their truck’s fuel.

The ladies are both competent in safe driving because that is a day-to-day thing in the mine sites and they appreciate the fact that efficient fuel consumption is good for business and good for the environment.

For Alma, driving a dump truck is as normal as any other job available for women. She knows that there are lady truck drivers in other places and she said she is just one of the “guys” which includes her husband who also works at the mines.

"I will forever be thankful to CMC, particularly my immediate bosses, for giving me the opportunity to earn a decent living while doing an exciting and challenging job", says Alma.

"I am proud to work for a responsible mining company and will forever appreciate this chance to travel to Thailand to meet other lady truck drivers and see a whole new world outside the Philippines!"

She is excited she said, but doesn’t show it. Just the other week, during a company inspection, all the big bosses of NAC were at Alma’s “office”, observing her as she was having her dump truck loaded with ores for delivery at the waiting barge being readied for shipment.

She asked later what the bosses think as they watch her – she learned they were impressed that she is representing them to the Thailand competition.

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