Friday, November 21, 2014

Baguio Film “Agbalbalitok” To Raise Funds For Ailing Son Of Small Scale Miner In Itogon

After its successful launching last September, The eleven documentaries of GMA Network’sCineTotoo is coming to Baguio City for the first leg of the Cine Totoo Caravan tour around the country. Of special note is Baguio-based award winning filmmaker Ferdinand Balanag’s documentary“Agbalbalitok”. The film documented the life of small-scale miners in Luneta, Itogon, Benguet. It questions the real price we pay in the pursuit of gold, a quickly-diminishing but very expensive metal. The documentary aims to be an instrument to raise money for the medical expenses of the film’s case study, Kurt John - the son of Janrey Guinapon, a small scale miner and the main subject of the documentary.

Kurt John's ailment is suspected to be caused by his exposure to toxic elements present in the surroundings of the small-scale mining community where his father has been working all his life. During the course of the production, Balanag and his team has brought Kurt John to several doctors in Baguio City but the diagnosis remains inconclusive. Kurt John needs further tests in institutions with higher facilities in Manila. According to specialist, Dra. Rosalinda Tandoc of Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), there have been several cases similar to Kurt John’s condition who came for checkups, all from small-scale mining areas in Benguet.

If Kurt John is given the chance to undergo intensive medical tests to determine the validity of the doctor's presumed diagnosis, the results could be a sample that can finally confirm the cause of this kind of illness among children in the Luneta, Itogon community as well as ratify the effects of toxicity on humans in small-scale mining communities all over the Philippines.
Johnrey processes a small amount of gold ore as Kurt John curiously watches. Johnrey hopes to sell the little gold he extracts to pay for his son's medical check up.
Due to his illness, Kurt John is quick to tire, has little to no appetite, and is often exempt from physical work and activities in school. He is forbidden to play with kids his age and is a year behind his batch as a result of excessive sick-absences. To attempt to remedy the problem, his father often begs for loans and meager cash advances from the financier of their small scale mining operations. The family often rely on their relatives and neighbors in order to augment their daily meals. Extra expenses like medicine and medical checkups are a luxury.

Agbalbalitok is scheduled to be screened at the Baguio Cinematheque located at historical Casa Vallejo on Dec 2 (Tuesday) - 3:30 PM, Dec 4 (Thursday) - 11:30 AM, Dec 7 (Sunday) - 3:30 PM. The goal of the Agbalbalitok film showings is to to raise money for the medical expenses of the film’s case study, Kurt John Guinapon- son of JanreyGuinapon, the main subject of the documentary.All revenues from ticket sales will be donated for Kurt John’s urgent medical diagnosis and treatment. Hopefully sufficient funds can be raised on or before the child celebrates his thirteenth birthday on January 2015.

It has been a unique privilege and an incredibly humbling experience to be part of the lives of our small-scale mining brothers and sisters in Itogon, to witness their impeccable strength and remarkable willpower to surpass the endless challenges that come their way. We have so much we have to be thankful for, and so much that we can offer to help those whose plight may appear completely alien to us, but surely we recognize the same pain and desperation and wish to be assisted somehow. We would like to appeal to the community to join us in doing this little thing for Kurt John by helping to cover his medical expenses” shared Director Ferdinand Balanag about the fundraising endeavor for their case study. Tickets price is Php 100 per view. In addition to the film screening, an open forum will be held right after to discuss any issues pertaining to the documentary.

For more details, updates on dates and venue of special screenings in universities, and queries on how you could extend help through donations and contributions in kind, you may reach them through their website ( or follow their Facebook page (

People who wish to donate can also direct their donations via a FundRazr campaign set up by director Balanag. Visit the fund raising campaign here.

- Press release.