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Diving for Gold

Risky job in the Philippines Klondike

Pinut-an barangay in the Philippines is dubbed the underwater Klondike for the massive deposits of gold ore on the bottom of the ocean. Since the 18th century, companies tried to establish mining operations there, but none succeeded: they were driven away by typhoons, landslides or low-profit margins. Ultimately the site was left for the locals. Though mining needs a licence, not having one doesn’t stop gold divers from doing their job. Nor do the immense risks diving poses to their health and the environment. Many divers suffer from decompression sickness, which sometimes leads to death. In the meantime, multiple tunnels they dig in the ocean floor in search of gold nuggets cause landslides.

Still, it is the only way for the locals to earn enough for a daily serving of rice. They can't even buy clothes or afford proper shelter. If they do well enough, though, there is a chance they can scrape up some money for their children's education so they can study and not repeat their parents’ fate.

Watch the film to learn more about the gold diving community and how they cope with challenges.