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  1. Miner's Child

From the recording Breathe

Memories of a Miner's Child
By Walter Dapliyan

My father was an underground miner in most of his working life. He was a miner for more than 40 years. He belonged to the Igorot tribe, fierce warriors of the mountains not so long ago. He was born and raised in Sagada, Mountain Province, an idyllically picturesque corner of the Cordillera Range in the northern Philippines. He didn't like school that much, so he packed his bags in his mid-teens, left his hometown and did odd jobs here and there for a few years around the neighboring provinces.

Later on, he applied for a job in Lepanto Mines, Mankayan, Benguet. He was first hired as a mucker - like an apprentice to the more seasoned miner. It was then and there he found his lifetime vocation. He became a miner for life. 

At age 30, he met a lovely lass, a 17 year old Igorota from Tadian, Mountain Province. They fell in love and got married. Their love bore fruits through the years; 5 boys and 2 girls. 

After working in Lepanto Mines for a few years, my father decided to apply for the same kind of job at Baco-Kelly Mines, in Atok, Benguet. He was hired and moved his family there. Later on, he applied for a miner's job at Acupan Mines, in Itogon, Benguet. It was there he finally settled his family for good. And it was there my siblings and I grew up. 

There was a common-folk-saying that I still remember in Acupan Mines, "Growing up in the mines is a privilege". The workers' families may have lived in cramped bunkhouses or cottages, but they were well taken care of by the mining company. Aside from a relatively good salary, there were a lot of benefits that were enjoyed, too. The company provided good education (elementary through high school) to their workers' children, quality hospitals and medications, a 50 kg sack of rice every month, among other things. And these were all for free. Considering the dire economic situation of the Philippines at that time, these benefits were like manna from heaven. There's another common-folk-saying, "Your one foot is dead while the other is alive once you get in the tunnel". Work-related accidents that could even lead to death happened many times. So I think the added benefits were fair share, considering the deadly hazards the miners had to undergo while working underground everyday. 

So, yes, life in the mines had been relatively nice. But none of that really mattered the moment tragedy struck my family. 

Our mom, together with our youngest 3 month old baby brother had a vehicular accident. The bus they were riding on fell in a deep ravine on the way to her hometown. Our mom threw our baby brother out the bus window mid-fall. The rescuers found him hanging on his neck in an entanglement of vines about halfway down the ravine from the road where the bus had fallen. They couldn't have found him alive on time if not for the white baby blanket snagged in the vines, waving like a white flag of surrender amidst the green foliage. Now that he's grown up, a rope-like scar is still visible on our youngest brother's neck, just below his jaws. It was big local news about the baby who miraculously survived the accident at that time. Perhaps the angels took pity of an innocent young life. Perhaps our mother's love made her to let go, out of desperation, and threw her baby out of the window while they were falling so he can have a better chance of survival. He did. She didn't.  She was buried at her hometown's local cemetery. 

Life wasn't the same from that day forth. Seven children; the oldest being 13, the youngest being 3 months old, and a distraught father. 

It was hard. 

But life goes on. It has to. 

And the tragedy had a second part. Two years after our mother's untimely death, our father had an accident deep underground. He was on a night shift. He was expected to come home early in the morning. But we, the children, were greeted at the door by our uncle's somber face. Gently, ever gently, he broke the news. 
Our father was dug out by other miners many hours after the cave in. They said most of his body was pinned by fallen rocks and dirt. His safety hat was cracked, but his head was spared from major injuries. He was a strong and sturdy mountain man. He was more on action, less on talk. While in pain and near death, he later said what kept him alive were the faces of his children in his mind. He kept thinking of us in the midst of agonizing pain while in total darkness. He said he must live because he couldn't leave us alone. His will to live was what kept him alive until he was dug out. It took about a year for him to fully recuperate and get back to work. 

Life in the mines had been a rollercoaster of emotions. Yes, the mines had been good to our family, but they had also brought hurt and pains. 

Many years after, Acupan Mines shut down and my father was retrenched. We stayed in our cottage a little bit longer. Then my father built a house in the city for us to live in because many of us children needed to go to college. Ultimately, my father had to sell the house we had grown up in Acupan Mines. We had to move out again. It was a bittersweet feeling. But life has to go on. 

Now, we, the children are well. We are all grown-ups and have all made our own families and continuing life's journey. Through the good and bad, our experience being children of the mines had taught us lessons - the lessons of life, that nothing is taken for granted. 

Our father is in his mid-70s now. He often feels body pains all over. It could be his advancing age. But I'm more inclined that the long and much hard work has brought its toll to his body. Yet he has the Igorot's warrior spirit in him. Yes, death may come at any time, but his strong yet gentle countenance says it all; "Come what may, I'm still here". 

I'm a miner's son. Come what may, I'll remain to be so.


A loving father and grandfather, an uncle, a sibling, a cousin and friend to so many, Daddy William has stood up, left his oxygen behind and walked into the arms of God for eternal rest and complete healing as he rejoins his wife, our Mama Norma who went before, once again.

He fought the good fight and won the race. He was and still is well loved. We will cherish and celebrate his love, his care and dedication to our family through the days of our lives. He is the inspiration behind this song, The Miner’s Child.
So in Loving Memory of Daddy William... 12th of June 2018 -we dedicate this song.
*** Daddy William passed away and reunited with our Mum on the 12th of June 2018 ***



Miner's Child
Songwriter: Hubert Dapliyan
Got a whisper on his leaving to his kids and wife goodbye
I love you and I'll miss you hugs and kisses please don't cry
He got a prayer every morning before getting beneath the ground
Please lead and make it safe and get me back home again
I was born from a dusty town and I'm a miner's child
I was raised with a simple life and we're taught to be polite 
We go to Church on Sundays, sing choir, sing hallelujah
We read the Gospel, we say the grace, and we worship with mountain praise
Got to swim on the river, catch tadpoles and dragonflies 
We climb the pine on the hill and watch the running timberline 
We got a prayer every evening as we gather at dinner time 
Thank you for the food we take, the blessings in every way
I was born from a dusty town and I'm a miner's child
I was raised with a simple life and we're taught to be polite 
We go to Church on Sundays, sing choir, sing hallelujah
We read the Gospel, we say the grace, and we worship with mountain praise
I haven't seen you for years, got to visit where I used to be
I was met by my daddy still strong on his seventies
He had a prayer in the morning before we have a cup of tea 
"Thank You, Lord, for he's fine and for leading my boy back to me"
I was born from a dusty town and I'm a miner's child
I was raised with a simple life and we're taught to be polite 
We go to Church on Sundays, sing choir, sing hallelujah
We read the Gospel, we say the grace, and we worship with mountain praise
We go to Church on Sundays, sing choir, sing hallelujah 
We read the Gospel, we say the grace, and we worship with mountain praise