Chapter 15c

Paracáli and Mambuláo Icon

February 26, 2022

GOLD-WASHING

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 lack 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 …

19.0

                                                                                             05 

Flint earth Loss

0.1

Iron

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.)

N

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.

LEAD AND COPPER MINES

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 ?