How Being a Geologist Lets Me Travel

Last Updated on September 25, 2021 by Tina

I missed my schedule of publishing a post last Tuesday. It was because I was busy preparing for my presentation after our weekly meeting. I was scheduled to present a geologic paper last Tuesday (which I haven’t done in more than a decade). It is a weekly thing in our company. I am a geologist but I was hired to do community relations work so I thought I will be exempted from doing the presentations. I was wrong.

As for the preparation, though I tried preparing for it a few days prior (I didn’t go out the whole day last Sunday), I don’t know, I guess I was born a crammer (just like most UP graduates I know) so preparing early didn’t really get me anywhere.

I was planning to publish a post the following night but I felt too exhausted so I said I’ll just do it the following day. But the following day the internet connection was really bad so I used it as a reason not to write. And then last night over dinner my two staff and I talked about geology stuff, like faults, landslides, and gold veins. It had been a very interesting discussion we didn’t notice it was already 11:00 PM. So no post again. But today I’ll make sure I get to publish this post.

Today, I am writing about my profession because people get fascinated when they find out I’m a geologist. They tell me they’ve never met a geologist before. Also, I will share how being a geologist lets me travel not just domestically but out of the country as well.

How I Got Into Geology

Remember when you were a kid and people would ask you what you wanted to become when you grow up? What was your answer back then? For me, it was either to become a teacher, a nun, or a scientist. I remember when I was in elementary I was really fascinated with rocks. I even kept the feldspar that my dad brought home from Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte because he used to have a client who has a feldspar mine.

When I got into college, the first course I took was Physics although I never really wanted to become a physicist. I was planning to shift to Chemistry the following year because it was what I really wanted, but I had a change of heart the following year. One of my subjects for the first semester was Introduction to Geology and I knew right then that it’s what I wanted. I planned on shifting but when I told my mom she didn’t approve of it because she didn’t want me going to the mountains for fieldwork. She thinks it’s too dangerous for a girl.

I didn’t want to become a chemist anymore so I tried to finish Physics. However, it was super hard and I really didn’t like it. So before my fourth year in the university, I shifted to Geology without telling my mom about it. She only found out when I got accepted there already. And I never regret doing it. I don’t know, I think geology students are the most chill students in the College of Science. Hahaha, sorry Physics friends.

What Does a Geologist Do?

You probably learned in school that Geology is the study of the Earth, the materials of which it is composed, the structure of those materials, and the processes by which they change over time. Geologists study earth processes such as earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions. They investigate metals and minerals, look for oil, natural gas, and water, and study methods to extract these.

There are different types of geologists such as environmental geologists, petroleum geologists, economic geologists, engineering geologists, marine geologists, planetary geologists, paleontologists, and more. I’m not gonna bore you by telling you what each of these types does, but if you are interested to know, you can always send me a question.

Anyways, I’m an economic geologist. I work in the mining industry. I’ve been in this industry for more than 15 years already. What do we do? We look for ore deposits.

How Being a Geologist Lets Me Travel Domestically and Internationally

If you tried searching in Google for jobs that let you travel, most of the time Geologist is included in the list. It’s because geologists work mainly in the field outdoors.

Even when we were still students, we’ve had plenty of travels because some of our subjects require us to go on field works or field trips. Our field works were in Rizal, Quezon, Baguio, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, Zambales, Bataan, and Surigao.

During our field trip in Bolinao.
During our fieldwork in Baguio. I couldn’t find our picture in Marcos Highway so I thought of posting this instead coz I really love this picture.

Mining companies and exploration areas are usually located in remote areas

My first job after passing the board exams was in an operating gold mine in Mankayan, Benguet. After living in Metro Manila for more than five years, I packed up my things and left the city. Mankayan is located in the highlands, four hours drive from Baguio City.

At the Lepanto Airstrip. There wasn’t much to do when we were working in Lepanto. There was no wifi or mobile data yet during that time. Our form of entertainment after work is playing badminton or hanging out on the airstrip.

After working there for one and a half years, I moved to Itogon, also in Benguet. The company that I worked for is an Australian company, and they sent me to Perth, Australia for training for I think 10 days. It was my first out-of-the-country trip and I traveled alone.

In Perth, with the central business district as my background

After that, I worked for a short time in a company that has prospects in Leyte, Abra, and Apayao. Our office was in Makati, but my boss brought me with him when he went on fieldwork to Calanasan in Apayao and Tacloban in Leyte. I had a very interesting story to share during our fieldwork in Calanasan, but it will make this post really long so I will probably talk about it in a separate post.

After my short stint in that company, I was back in Mankayan again but with a different company. It is a foreign company. I was able to go to Perth for the second time because I was sent for training again. I really loved the place and to be honest, I wanted to move there.

City Beach, Western Australia
City Beach, Western Australia
At Colalo, Mankayan
At Colalo, Mankayan
At the office/warehouse of our drilling contractor, Indodrill in the underground. I used to supervise our geological assistants who were assigned to underground drilling. I would go underground at least twice a week to check on them or to set up a drill hole.
During one of our field works

Next, I worked in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte and Butuan in Agusan del Norte when I joined the geohazard team in charge of CARAGA. It was a short stint too, I was in that area for four months. But during that short period, I was able to go to Tandag, Surigao del Sur too because it was part of our project.

At Masao Beach in Butuan, Agusan del Norte.
At Masao Beach in Butuan, Agusan del Norte. This place is known as Magellan’s Landing Site.
At Cantilan, Surigao del Sur
At Cantilan, Surigao del Sur

After the geohazard mapping job, I got a job in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila. I was office-based, but later on, I was assigned to go to the field to help in supervising the geologists there. I would stay there for 21 days and I earn 7 days of vacation leave. Our site is located in Nonoc Island, Surigao City. We didn’t have work on Sundays so I used to spend it exploring the tourist destinations in Surigao del Norte and even Dinagat Island.

At Bitaog Beach in Dinagat Island
At Bitaog Beach in Dinagat Island
Duyos Beach in Dinagat Island
Duyos Beach in Dinagat Island
At Blue Lagoon in Dinagat Island
At Blue Lagoon in Dinagat Island

When I quit my job in this company in 2018, I said I’m done working as a geologist. After that, I only did freelance jobs, working as a trainer for a resource modeling software. I was able to travel to Davao and Compostela Valley for that job. Just before the new year of 2020, I was offered a full-time job as a trainer. But I found the rate they were offering me too low and accepting the job meant I will not be able to visit my friend who had a motorcycle accident the month before. So I turned down the job offer. Which was good because I was also able to accompany him during his surgery in late February last year.

Also in February last year, my college friend who is now my officemate contacted me and told me they were planning to hire me for their Mankayan Project. I told him my earliest availability would be April because of the surgery. And then you know what happened in the second week of March last year.

I may not have been hired last year because of the lockdowns, but I was probably destined for this job because here I am now, on my 6th month with the company, doing community relations work. Because of this job, I was able to visit places like Bagu in Bakun and Cabiten in Mankayan that I probably wouldn’t be able to visit if I didn’t have this job.

Our work schedule gives us time to travel

Depending on the company, usually, the setup is a geologist works for a certain number of days in the field/site then goes on vacation. It could either be 3:1, 4:1, or 6:1; 3:1 means you work for 3 weeks straight and you go home for vacation for a week. We usually spend our vacation traveling to other places.

This photo was taken in Burgos Light House
During one of our field breaks, me and my colleagues who have the same field break schedule decided to go on a trip together in my home province Ilocos Norte. This photo was taken in Burgos Light House
We call this photo the Familia Zaragoza photo
We call this photo the Familia Zaragoza photo, taken at Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
This was taken in Juan Luna Museum
This was taken in Juan Luna Museum

Geologists have a slightly higher salary than the other professions

In the Philippines, geologists working in the mining and oil and gas industry have higher salaries than other professions. When you are in the field/site, you are provided free accommodation and food. You are also provided transportation to go to work, and even your travel expenses when going to the field/site and when you go on a field break are shouldered by the company. At least that’s how it is with the companies that I worked for, except for the first one.

We don’t spend any when we are on the field/site, or if we do, it is very minimal, so we are able to afford to travel locally and even abroad.

So that’s how I am able to travel to different places because of my profession. I hope you didn’t get bored reading this, and if you’re still in high school, I hope I was able to inspire you to study Geology in college. If you have any more questions related to this post, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email or message me on my social media accounts.

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