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BLIND SPOT: Volcanoes and Valentines

What brings out love? “For the next few days, it was hell on earth. Day turned into night. Ash, sand and small pumice stones rained down as if the world was coming to an end.” “Standing at an evacuation center in the town of Santo Domingo in Albay, I saw the worried look from the faces of residents who just very recently evacuated after the danger zone was extended to nine kilometers. (Raffy Tima, “On the evening of 14 January, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS) raised Mayon Volcano’s alert level from II to III, signifying that Mayon has increased tendency towards hazardous eruption. On the morning of 15 January 2018, two lava collapse events occurred in the volcano, producing rockfall and small-volume pyroclastic density currents. “ ( Volcano eruption brings out more than lava and ash. “After donating P5 million for the victims of the crisis in Marawi City last year, the Korean Embassy came to help again, this time, by donating P10 million for the victims of the eruption of the Mayon volcano in Albay. Philippine Red Cross Chair and CEO Senator Richard Gordon said the Korean Embassy Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man handed P10 million ($200,000) to support the Philippine Red Cross’ relief, recovery and rehabilitation operations in Albay.” “The provincial government of Isabela , through the leadership of Gov. Faustino G. Dy III and Vice Gov. Antonio Albano, recently provided at least 1,000 bags of rice to Albay province intended for the families affected by the series of Mayon volcano eruptions. “ This is in reciprocal to the time when “Albay was the first province to provide assistance to Isabela after Typhoon Juan hit the province in October 2010, leaving millions in losses from damaged crops and properties.” ( It may be conventionally perceived as a calamity – a natural monument spewing out fiery fury; disrupting life and livelihood, displacing residence and routine, endangering health and habitation. However, calamity also causes the eruption of concern and compassion among spectators on the sidelines. It could be more convenient for another local government or a foreign nation to stick to their job descriptions and leave the lending of hands of help to assigned agencies. Anyway, that’s what they’re there for. But the volcano did not only shake the ground, it also shook grace. And generosity. All of these are set against the backdrop of a time when flower prices hike up, love themed concerts Start Showing up, cards with red hearts abound and lovers start to crowd parks. ( ““The busiest days for us are February 13 and 15,” said Steve Perez, assistant business manager of Manila’s Victoria Court, a drive-in hotel that specializes in discreet reservations.” I wonder if the same is true with its counterparts in Bicol. The government and a toothpaste brand in 2004 even started an event in which “Filipino couples have been gathering by the hundreds to compete for a world record: the most people lip locking simultaneously”. ( “Durex and Yes2condom and contraceptive pills companies have claimed higher sales during the Valentine’s week.” ( Could it be that this purported month of love lends to a venue for misplaced and misguided intimacy? Why should bachelors and bachelorettes scrounge for dates just because a certain season calls for it? Would that not discredit the authenticity of the courtship process, and place its veracity in question since it is exercised in satisfaction of a season? It is a miserable truth that children are brought up in a culture that conditions the normalcy of two red hearts pierced by an arrow from a bow of a cherub looking character which in Greek and Roman pagan beliefs, was the deity of eroticism, and I mean lascivious, lustful eroticism. In discreet manner, juvenile minds are gradually baked in the seering pressure of socio-cultural norms that in this time of the year, one should be paired with another, that one should give or receive a botanical reproductive organ, that one should offer or obtain processed cacao beans, or their modern incarnations in the forms of balloons or stuffed animals; and that anything less of these would be deemed below normal, and in need of some sort of help. I don’t consider the phenomenon, one of commercialism. Commerce merely follows culture. What comes after? A reversion to reality and renunciation of responsibility? And yes, ladies and gentleman, we call this LOVE. So now, in a poetic sense, I say, I would rather volcanoes erupt. “It is better to go to a house of mourning, than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone” Ecclesiastes 7:2

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