Latest Stories

‘It’s hard to just wait, I want to help dig’


WAITING AND HOPING LALAINE Planca, mother of one of the missing mine workers, waits for news by the door of her house at the Semirara Mining Corp. housing complex for employees. RAFFY LERMA

SEMIRARA ISLAND, Antique—Lalaine Planca is grappling with her grief. “I have lost two already and that’s too much,” she said.

For five days, Lalaine has been waiting for word about her eldest child, Jan Riel, an excavator operator, who was buried with nine other people by tons of soil in Wednesday’s (February 13) collapse of the Panian open mine pit of Semirara Mining Corp. (SMC). The bodies of five heavy equipment operators were recovered last week.

Also missing with Jan Riel were Leovigildo Porras, Randy Tamparong, Richard Padernilla and Junjie Gomez.

Rescuers have found only Jan Riel’s blue backpack containing his wallet, clothes and other personal items.

Lalaine, who joined the families of other missing victims in a Mass atop the Panian pit on Saturday, said she wanted to throw herself into it.

“The pit took my husband near where Jan Riel was buried,” she told the Inquirer at the SMC employees’ housing complex in Barangay Semirara. Romeo Planca, 53, a company foreman, died on May 9 last year, a day after he was hit by a boulder in a slide on a wall section of the mine pit.

Lalaine said she had yet to receive insurance benefits from her husband’s death.

On Feb. 13, a few hours before Jan Riel and other victims were buried, Lalaine said her son had told her they would visit Romeo’s grave the next day, Valentine’s Day. “I did not know that he wouldn’t be coming home,” she said.

She said the family was roused from sleep at 4 a.m. on Feb. 14 when her son’s fellow employees came to inform them that he was among the victims in the accident. “It should have been me because I’m old already,” she said.

Aside from Jan Riel, Lalaine has four children, aged 9, 6 and 4 years, and 5 months.

“They are always asking for him and if he will come home,” Jan Riel’s wife Fernalyn said.

The family is hoping that search and recovery operations will continue. Rescuers, aided by K-9 sniff dogs, have been slowed down by continued slides along the collapsed wall.

On Saturday, two possible locations of the missing miners were marked but these were covered by slides on Sunday, said Sgt. Edward Bene, team leader of the K-9 unit of the Army’s 301st Brigade.

“It’s too hard to just wait here. I want to help and dig him out, even if I have to do it with my hands,” Lalaine said.

Every time a vehicle would stop in front of their house, she would open the door, hoping for news about Jan Riel.

“I am preparing for the worst. I only want him found,” she said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: antique , Mining , News , open pit mine collapse , Regions , Semirara Mining Corp.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  2. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  7. Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  8. South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  9. Two Popes who would be saints
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  9. Massive infra spending set
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  5. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  6. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  7. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Multicultural flock marks Good Friday in San Francisco
  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • Marketplace