Paracáli and Mambuláo Icon

April 30, 2022


Paracáli and Mambuláo are two localities well known to all mineralogists, from the red lead ore occurring there.

On the following morning I returned to Longos which only had a few miserable huts inhabited by gold-washers. They go about almost naked, probably because they work most of the day in the water and are also very poor.

The soil is composed of rubbish, decomposed fragments of crystalline rock, rich in broken pieces of quartz. The workmen make holes in the ground 2 feet long, 2 broad, and to 30 feet deep.

At 3 feet below the surface the rock is generally found to contain gold, the value increasing down to 18 feet of depth, and then again diminishing, though these proportions are very uncertain, and there is much fruitless search. The rock is carried out of the holes in baskets, on ladders of bamboo, and the water in small pails; but in the rainy season the holes cannot possibly be kept free from water, as they are situated on the slope of the mountain, and are filled quicker than they can be emptied. The want of

apparatus for discharging water also accounts for the fact that the pits are not dug deeper.

The breaking of the auriferous rock is effected with two stones ; of which one serves as anvil, and the other as hammer. The former, which is slightly hollowed in the centre, is laid flat upon the ground; and the latter, 4 x 8 x 8 inches in dimensions, and therefore of about 25 pounds weight, is made fast with rattan to the top of a slender young tree, which lies in a sloping position in a fork, and at its opposite end is firmly fixed in the ground. The workman with a jerk forces the stone that serves for hammer down upon the auriferous rock, and allows it to be again carried upwards by the elasticity of the young tree.

equally rude. A thick stake rises from the centre of a circular support of rough-hewn stones (which is enclosed in a circle of exactly similar stones) having an iron “pin at its top, to which a tree, bent horizontally in the middle, and downwards at the two ends, is fixed. Being set in motion by two buffaloes attached in front, it drags several heavy stones, which are bound firmly to it with rattans, round the circle, and in this manner crushes the broken rock, which has been previously mixed with water, to a fine mud. The same apparatus is employed by the Mexican gold-washers, under the name of Rastra. The washing-out of the mud is done by women. They kneel before a small wooden gutter filled with water up to the brim, and provided with boards, sloping downwards, in front of the space assigned to each woman; the gutter being cut out at these places in a corresponding manner, so that a very slender stream of water flows evenly across its whole breadth downwards over the board. With her hand the work-woman distributes the auriferous mud over the board, which, at the lower edge, is provided with a cross-piece ; and, when the light sand is washed away, there remains a stratum consisting chiefly of iron, flint, and ore, which is taken up from

time to time with a flat piece of board, and laid on one side; and at the end of the day’s work, it is washed out in a flat wooden dish (batea), and, for the last time, in a cocoa-shell ; when, if they are lucky, a fine yellow dust shows itself on the edge.* During the last washing the slimy juice of the Gogo is added to the water, the fine heavy sand remaining suspended therein for a longer time than in pure water, and thus being more easily separated from the gold-dust.f

It is further to be mentioned that the refuse from the pits is washed at the upper end of the water-gutter, so that the sand adhering to the stones intended for pounding may deposit its gold in the gutter or on the washing-board. In order to melt the gold thus obtained into a lump, in which form it is bought by the dealers, it is poured into a small heart-shell (cardium), and, after being covered with a handful of charcoal, placed in a potsherd; when a woman blows through a narrow bamboo-cane on the kindled coals, and in one minute the work is completed. I

The result of many inquiries shows the profit per head to be on an average not more than 1} r. daily. Further to the southwest from here, on the mountain Malagúit, are seen the ruins of a Spanish mining company; a heap of rubbish, a pit fifty feet deep, a large house fallen to ruin, and a stream-work four feet

  • In only one out of several experiments made in the Berlin Mining College did gold-sand contain 0.014 gold; and, in one experiment on the heavy sand remaining on the mud-board, no gold was found.
  • The Gogo is a climbing Mimosa (Entada purseta) with large pods, very abundant in the Philippines; the pounded stem of which is employed in washing, like the soap-bark of Chili (Quillaja saponaria); and for many purposes, such as baths and washing the hair of the head, is preferred to soap.

A small gold nugget obtained in this manner, tested at the Berlin Mining College, consisted of, Gold

77.4 Silver …



Flint earth Loss



broad and six feet high. The mountain consists of gneiss much decomposed, with quartz veins in the stream-work, with the exception of the bands of quartz, which are of almost pure clay earth with sand. .

On the sides hung some edible nests of the salangane, but not of the same kind as those found in the caverns on the south coast of Java. These, which are of much less value than the latter, are

The Nests of the Collocalia troglodytes.

[The illustration is one-third the size of the origina’s.] only occasionally collected by the Chinese dealers, who reckon them nominally at five cents each. We also found a few of the nest-building birds (Collocalia troglodytes, Gray).*

Around lay so large a number of Indian labourers, and there were so many little abandoned pits, wholly or half fallen to ruin, and more or less grown over, that it was necessary to step between with great caution. Some of them were still being worked after the mode followed at Lóngos, but with a few slight improvements. The pits are twice as large as those excavated there, and the rock is lifted up by a pulley to a cylindrical framework of bamboo, which is worked by the feet of a lad who sits on a bank higher up.

  • The nest and bird are figured in Gray’s “Genera of Birds”; but the nest does not correspond with those found here. These are hemispherical in form, and consist for the most part of coir (cocoa fibres); and, as if prepared by the hand of man, the whole interior is covered with an irregular net-work of fine threads of the glutinous e lible substance, as well as the upper edge, which swells gently outwards from the centre towards the sides, and expands into two wing-shaped prolongations, resting on one another, by which the nest is fixed to the wall. The drawing is onethird of the size of the original which is in the Berlin Zool. Mus. under B 3333. Dr. v. Martens conjectures that the designation salangane comes from langayan, bird, and the Malay prefix sa, and signifies especially the nest as something coming from the bird.—(“Journal of Ornith.,” Jan., 1866.)


Ten minutes north of the village of Malagúit is a mountain in which lead-glance and red lead have been obtained ; the rock consisting of micaceous gneiss much decomposed. There is a stream-work over one hundred feet in length. The rock appears to have been very poor.

The highly prized red-lead ores have been found on the top of this same hill, N. 30° W. from the village. The quarry was fallen to ruin and flooded with rain, so that only a shallow hollow in the ground remained visible; and after a long search amongst the bushes growing there a few small fragments were found, on which chrome-lead ore was still clearly to be recognised. Captain Sabino, the former governor of Paracáli, a well-informed Indian, who, at the suggestion of the alcalde, accompanied me, had for

specimens for a speculator who had in view the establishment of a new mining company in Spain ; but the specimens which were found had not been removed, as speculation in mines in the Philippines had, in the interval, fallen into discredit on the Exchange of Madrid ; and as yet only a little box full of sand, out of a few small drusy cavities, has been fixed upon and pounded, to be sold as variegated writing-sand, after being carefully sifted.

A peculiarly beautiful fan-palm grows on this hill. Its stem is from thirty to forty feet high, cylindrical and dark-brown, with white rings a quarter of an inch broad at distances of four inches, and, at similar intervals, crown-shaped bands of thorns two inches long. Near the crown-leaf the stem passes into the richest brown of burnt sienna.

Notwithstanding a very bad road, a pleasant ride carried us from Paracáli to the sea-shore, and, through a beautiful wood, to Mambuláo, which lies W. by N. I alighted at the tribunál, and took up my lodgings in the room where the ammunition was kept, as being the only one that could be locked. For greater security, the powder was stored in a corner and coveredwith buffalo-hide ; but such were my arrangements that my servant carried about a burning tallow light, and his assistant a torch in the hand. When I visited the native priest, I was received in a friendly manner by a young girl who, when I offered my hand, thanked me with a bow, saying, “ Tengo las sarnas” (“ I have the itch”). The malady, which is very common in the Philippines, appears to have its focus in this locality.


A quarter of a league N.N.E. we came upon the ruins of another mining undertaking, the Ancla de Oro. Shaft and watercutting had fallen in, and were thickly grown over; and only a few of the considerable buildings were still standing ; and even those were ready to fall. In a circle some Indians were busily employed, in their manner, collecting grains of gold. The rock is gneiss, weathered so much that it cannot be recognised ; and at a thousand paces on the other side is a similar one, clearly crystalline.

Half a league N. by E. from Mambuláo is the lead-mountain of Diniánan. Here also all the works were fallen in, choked with mud and grown over. Only after a long search were a few fragments found with traces of red-lead ore. This mountain consists of hornblende rock; in one place, of hornblende slate, with very beautiful large crystals.

A league and a half S. from Mambuláo a shallow hollow in the ground marks the site of an old copper-mine, which must have ·been eighty-four feet deep. Copper ores are found in several

places in Luzon ; and specimens of solid copper were obtained by me at the Bay of Lúyang, N. of the Enseñada de Patág, in Caramúan.

Very considerable beds of copper ore occur in Mancayán, in the district of Lepanto, and in the central mountain-range of Luzon between Cagayán and Ilocos, which have been worked by a mining company in Manila since 1850 ; but the operations seem to have been most unsuccessful. In 1867 the society expended a considerable capital in the erection of smelting furnaces and hydraulic machinery; but until a very recent date, owing to local difficulties, particularly the want of roads, it has not produced any copper.*

In 1869 I heard, in London, that the undertaking had been given up. According to my latest information, however, it is certainly in progress; but the management have never, I believe, secured a dividend. The statement of 1872, in fact, shows a loss, or, as the Spaniards elegantly say, a dividendo pasiro.

What Europeans yet appear unable to accomplish, the wild Ygorrotes, who inhabit that trackless range of mountains, have carried on successfully for centuries, and to a proportionally larger extent; and this is the more remarkable as the metal in that district occurs only in the form of flints, which even in Europe can be made profitable only by particular management, and not without expense.

The copper introduced into commerce by the Ygorrotes, from 1840 to 1855, partly in a raw state, partly manufactured, is

estimated at 300 picos yearly. The extent of their excavations, and the large existing masses of slag, also indicate the activity of their operations for a long period of time. .

The drawing shows a copper kettle made by those wild tribes, which is now in the Ethnographical Museum at Berlin. Meyen, who brought it, states

that it was made by the negritos in the interior of the island, and certainly with hammers of porphyry, as they have no iron ; and that he further found, in

  • Spanish Catalogue of the Paris Exhibition, 1867.

[graphic] Height, 17 cm.; diameter at top, 19 cm.; extreme

circumference, 71 cm.

thet ;



the collection of the Captain General of the Philippines, a large shallow kettle of 3] feet in diameter, which had been bought for only 3 dollars; whence it may be inferred that, in the interior of the island, the copper occurs in large masses, and probably solid; for how could those rude uncultivated negroes understand the art of smelting copper ?

The locality of these rich quarries was still unknown to the Governor, although the copper implements brought thence had, according to an official statement of his in 1833, been in use in Manila over two centuries. It is now known that the coppersmiths are not negritos but Ygorrotes ; and there can be no question that they practised this art, and the still more difficult one of obtaining copper from flint, for a long period perhaps previous to the arrival of the Spaniards. They may possibly have learnt them from the Chinese or Japanese. The chief engineer, Santos,* and many others with him, are of opinion that this race is descended from the Chinese or Japanese, from whom he insists that it acquired not only its features (several travellers mention the obliquely placed eyes of the Ygorrotes), its idols, and some of its customs, but also the art of working in copper. At all events, the fact that a wild people, living isolated in the mountains, should have made such progress in the science of smelting, is of so great interest that a description of their procedure by Santos (essentially only a repetition of an earlier account by Hernandez, in the “Revista Minera," i. 112) will certainly be acceptable.

The present mining district acquired by the society mentioned, the “Sociedad Minero-metalurgica Cantabro-filipina de Mancayán,” was divided amongst the Ygorrotes into larger or smaller parcels strictly according to the number of the population of the adjacent villages, whose boundaries were jealously watched ; and the possessions of each separate village were again divided between certain families; whence it is that those mountain districts

  • “ Informe sobre las Minas de Cobre,” Manila, 1862.

exhibit, at the present day, the appearance of a honeycomb. To obtain the ore, they made cavities, in which they lighted fires in suitable spots, for the purpose of breaking the rock into pieces by means of the elasticity of the heated water contained in the crevices, with the additional assistance of iron implements. The first breaking-up of the ore was done in the stream-work itself, and the dead heaps lay piled up on the ground, so that, in subsequent fires, the flame of the pieces of wood always reached the summit; and by reason of the quality of the rock, and the imperfection of the mode of procedure, very considerable down-falls frequently occurred. The ores were divided into rich and quartziferous ; the former not being again melted, but the latter being subjected to a powerful and persistent roasting, during which, after a part of the sulphur, antimony, and arsenic had been exhaled, a kind of distillation of sulphate of copper and sulphate of iron took place, which appeared as “stone," or in balls on the surface of the quartz, and could be easily detached.*

The furnace or smelting apparatus consisted of a round hollow in clayey ground, 30 centimetres in diameter and 15 deep; with which was connected a conical funnel of fire-proof stone, inclined at an angle of 30°, carrying up two bamboo-canes, which were

  • According to the Catalogue, the following ores are found :-Variegated copper ore (cobre gris abigarrado), arsenious copper (e. gris arsenical), vitreous copper (c. vitreo), copper pyrites (pirita de cobre), solid copper (mata cobriza), and black copper (c. negro). The ores of most frequent occurrence have the following compositionA, according to an analyzed specimen in the School of Mines at Madrid ; B, according to the analysis of Santos, the mean of several specimens taken from different places :


B Silicious Acid


47.06 Sulphur. . . . . . . 31.715

44.44 Copper :


16.64 Antimony


5:12 Arsenic.

• . 7539 . . 1.837

1.84 Lime

. in traces Loss

. : 0.263





fitted into the lower ends of two notched pine-stems ; in which two slips, covered all over with dry grass or feathers, moved alternately up and down, and produced the current required for the smelting.

When the Ygorrotes obtained black copper or native copper by blasting, they prevented loss (by oxidation) by setting up a crucible of good fire-proof clay in the form of a still; by which means it was easier for them to pour the metal into the forms which it would acquire from the same clay. The furnace being arranged, they supplied it with from 18 to 20 kilogrammes of rich or roasted ore, which, according to the repeated experiments of Hernandez, contained 20 per cent. of copper; and they proceeded quite scientifically, always exposing the ore at the mouth of the funnel, and consequently to the air-drafts, and placing the coals at the sides of the furnace, which consisted of loose stones piled one over another to the height of 50 centimetres.

The fire having been kindled and the blowing apparatus, already described, in operation, thick clouds of white, yellow, and orange-yellow smoke were evolved from the partial volatilization of the sulphur, arsenic, and antimony, for the space of an hour; but as soon as only sulphurous acid was formed, and the heat by this procedure had attained its highest degree, the blowing was discontinued and the product taken out. This consisted of a dross, or, rather, of the collected pieces of ore themselves, which, on account of the flinty contents of the stones composing the funnel, were transformed by the decomposition of the sulphurous metal into a porous mass, and which could not be converted into dross nor form combinations with silicious acid, being deficient in the base as well as in the requisite heat ; and also of a very impure “stone," of from 4 to 5 kg. weight, and containing from 50 to 60 per cent. of copper.

Several of these “stones” were melted down together for the space of about fifteen hours, in a powerful fire; and by this means a great portion of the three volatile substances above named was again evolved ; after which they placed them, now heated red-hot, in an upright position, but so as to be in contact with the draught; the coals, however, being at the sides of the furnace. After blowing for an hour or half-an-hour, they thus obtained, as residuum, a silicate of iron with antimony and traces of arsenic, a “stone” containing from 70-75% of copper, which they took off in very thin strips, at the same time using refrigerating vessels; and at the bottom of the hollow there remained, according as the mass was more or less freed from sulphur, a larger or smaller quantity (always, however, impure) of black copper.

The purified stones obtained by this second process were again made red-hot by placing them between rows of wood, in order that they might not melt into one another before the fire had freed them from impurities.

The black copper obtained from the second operation, and the stones which were re-melted at the same time, were then subjected to a third process in the same furnace (narrowed by quarry stones and provided with a crucible) ; which produced a residuum of silicious iron and black copper, which was poured out into clay moulds, and in this shape came into commerce. This black copper contained from 92 to 94 per cent. of copper, and was tinged by a carbonaceous compound of the same metal known by its yellow colour, and the oxide on the surface arising from the slow cooling, which will occur notwithstanding every precaution; and the surface so exposed to oxidation they beat with green twigs. When the copper, which had been thus extracted with so much skill and patience by the Ygorrotes, was to be employed in the manufacture of kettles, pipes, and other doinestic articles, or for ornament, it was submitted to another process of purification, which differed from the preceding only in one particular, that the quantity of coals was diminished and the air-draught increased

according as the process of smelting drew near to its termination, which inyolved the removal of the carbonaceous compound by oxidation. Santos found, by repeated experiment, that even from ores of the mean standard of 20 per cent., only from 8 to 10 per cent. of black copper was extracted by the third operation ; so

that between 8 and 12 per cent. still remained in the residuum - or porous quartz of the operation.

It was difficult to procure the necessary means of transport for my baggage on the return journey to Paracáli, the roads being so soaked by the continuous rains that no one would venture his cattle for the purpose. In Mambuláo the influence of the province on its western border is very perceptible, and Tagal is understood almost better than Bicol ; the Tagal element being introduced amongst the population by pretty women, who with their families come here, from Lucban and Mauban, in the pursuit of trade. They buy up gold, and import stuffs and other wares in exchange. The gold acquired is commonly from 15 to 16 carats, and a mark determines its quality. The dealers pay on the average 11 dollars per ounce; but when, as is usually the case, it is offered in smaller quantities than one ounce, only 10 dollars.* They weigh with small Roman scales, and have no great reputation for honesty.

North Camarines is thinly inhabited, the population of the mining districts having removed after the many undertakings which were artificially called into existence by the mining mania had been ruined. The gold-washers are mostly dissolute and involved in debt, and continually expecting rich findings which but very seldom occur, and which, when they do occur, are forthwith dissipated;a fact which will account for champagne and other articles of luxury being found in the shops of the very poor villagers.

  • According to the prices current with us, the value would be calculated at about 12 dols. ; the value of the analyzed specimen, to which we have before referred, at 143 dols.

Malagúit and Matángo, during the dry season, are said to be connected by an extremely good road ; but, when we passed, the two places were separated by a quagmire into which the horses sank up to their middle.

In Lábo, a little village on the right bank of the river Lábo (which rises in the mountain of the same name), the conditions

to which we have adverted are repeated—vestiges of the works of former mining companies fast disappearing, and, in the midst, little pits being worked by the Indians. Red lead has not been found here, but gold has been, and especially“ platinum,” which some experiments have proved to be lead-glance. The mountain Lábo appears from its bell-shape and the strata exposed in the river bed to consist of trachytic hornblende. Half a league W.S.W., after wading through mud a foot deep, we reached the mountain Dallas, where lead-glance and gold were formerly obtained by a mining company; and to the present day gold is obtained by a few Indians in the usual mode.

Neither in the latter province, nor in Manila, could I acquire more precise information respecting the histories of the numerous unfortunate mining enterprises. Thus much, however, appears certain, that they were originated only by speculators, and never properly worked with sufficient means. They therefore, of necessity, collapsed so soon as the speculators ceased from their operations.


North Camarínes yields no metal with the exception of the little gold obtained by the Indians in so unprofitable a manner. The king of Spain at first received a fifth, and then a tenth, of the produce; but the tax subsequently ceased. In Morga’s time the tenth amounted on an average to 10,000 dollars (“ which was kept quite secret”); the profit, consequently, to above 100,000 dollars. Gemelli Carreri was informed by the governor of Manila that gold to the value of 200,000 dollars was collected annually without the help of either fire or quicksilver, and that Paracáli, in particular, was rich in gold. No data exist from which I could estimate the actual rate of produce; and the answers to several inquiries deserve no mention. The produce is, at all events, very small, as well on account of the incompleteness of the mode of procedure as of the irregularity of labour, for the Indians work only when they are compelled by necessity.

I returned down the stream in a boat to Indáng, a comparatively flourishing place, of smaller population but more considerable trade than Daét; the export consisting principally of aback, and the import, of rice.

An old mariner, who had navigated this coast for many years, informed me that the same winds prevail from Daét as far as Cape Engaño, the north-east point of Luzon. From October to March the north-east wind prevails, the monsoon here beginning with north winds, which are of short duration and soon pass into the north-east; and in January and February the east winds begin and terminate the monsoon. The heaviest rains fall from October to January, and in October typhoons sometimes occur. Beginning from the north or north-east, they pass to the northwest, where they are most violent; and then to the north and east, sometimes as far as to the south-east, and even to the south. In March and April, and sometimes in the beginning of May, shifting winds blow, which bring in the south-west monsoon ; but the dry season, of which April and May are the driest months, is


uninterrupted by rain. Thunder storms occur from June to November ; most frequently in August. During the south-west monsoon the sea is very calm ; but in the middle of the north-east monsoon all navigation ceases on the east coast. In the outskirts of Balér rice is sown in October, and reaped in March and April. Mountain rice is not cultivated.


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