Gold Rush: Cordillera, Philippines

Cordillera, Philipines

Sometimes the most interesting postcards are the most personal.  This one my friend decided to share with me that she received from her father.

The message from the back:

“Greetings from Mountain Province. This place still has some of the most incredible views of my lifetime — the only thing missing is you.

You’ve got to come back and see this road again - it defies imagination. Much more spectacular than I even remembered.

Thinking of you!

Much love,


She writes, “The postcard is from the Cordillera Mountains in northern Luzon in the Philippines. The road he is talking about is called “mountain trail” and it is a single lane road dorm many hours which winds its way from Baguio City (where I grew up) to Sagada (famous for caves and hanging coffins) and the Banaue Rice Terraces which are stunning!!! (The road also passes the highest point in the Philippines).”

The Transformation of Gold

The Cordillera Central is a massive mountain range situated in the northern central part of the island of Luzon, in the Philippines.  It is the country’s premier mining district where there are eight big mining companies operating which are mostly foreign controlled. 80% of the total Philippine gold production comes from the Cordillera.

The Cordillera Central is the ancestral home of the Cordillerans, an indigenous group of people also known as the ‘people from the mountains’. Cordillerans have strong and innate ties to the land, viewing the land as being sacred and a source of life.  The land forms an essential part of their cultural identity which can neither be bought or owned, but is nurtured for communal benefit.  It is the Cordillerans strong connections with the land that in the past, they have fought against colonizers to defend their right to remain on the land.

During the Great Depression, in 1927 the Benquet Consolidated Mining Company discovered one of the richest veins of gold in Cordillera.  This began the start of the gold rush into Cordillera.  Within four years, 94 mining companies in Cordilera grew to 17, 812 by 1933.

The extreme growth as a result of the mining industry has transformed the landscape.  Mining operations continued to grow and by 1939 the Philippines ranked among the world’s leading gold producers, and second to the state of California among US producers.