The growing number of “prospectors” flocking to the Dario River in Barangay Del Monte in Quezon City worries local authorities, who fear that gold fever could result in peace and order problems in the largely slum neighborhood.
Scores of people drawn by the prospect of striking it rich have been streaming to the river after gold nuggets were reportedly found along its banks two weeks ago.
“The number of people who go to the river continues to grow now that silver was also said to be found there,” Resty Manarang, team leader of the Del Monte Barangay Security and Development Office (BSDO), said in a telephone interview Sunday.
The barangay has beefed up security under the Felix Bridge to maintain order among the “miners.”
Manarang said squatter residents from nearby Barangay Masambong have joined the search for precious metals.
“We let them dig as long as they’re peaceful, even if they come from other barangays, for them to earn a living,” he said.
At least eight members of the BSDO, or village watchers, guard the area 24 hours a day.
The prospectors arrive at daybreak, armed with shovels, strainers, fishnets, steel pans, hammers and ladles.
They stake out their places along the heavily silted river and begin to sift the waters.
The prospectors leave only when the sun sets.
Nobody knows how gold nuggets found their way into the river. Nobody cares.
Manarang said the lives of those who struck gold have changed dramatically.
“A polio victim known as Tyson was able to replace his wooden crutches into stainless steel ones and buy television set and other appliances after he found a gold nugget,” he said.
The biggest gold nugget dug up so far was the size of a box of matches. Manarang said the finder sold it for P42,000, while others sold theirs for P30,000 in pawnshops.
By Ronnie E. Calumpita