Couples sneak out of evacuation center for intimate moments as hot Mayon spews ash

By Celso Amo

LEGAZPI CITY --- Despite the ban for Mayon evacuees to get back to their homes even briefly inside the restricted danger zone, couples were able to sneak through to enjoy intimate moments and conjugal privacy beneath a seething volcano. Dr. Antonio S. Ludovice, Albay provincial health officer, mentioned of various alibi the couples use just to be allowed to get through the restricted zone. “But the most popular alibi, aside from having to take a shower or wash their clothes, is still `mabahog nin orig’ or ‘to feed the pigs’,” said Ludovice during an interview at his office at the second floor of the Albay Provincial Security and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) here. During the Mayon eruption in 2014 ‘feeding the pigs’ was the most common alibi used so that evacuees were allowed to briefly visit their homes inside the 6-km permanent danger zones at the foot of Mt. Mayon. Ludovice even recalled the story of a child of an evacuee asking the parents, “Nay, tay nata ma-uli kamo magbahog nin orig, dai man kitang orig sa harong.” (“Mama, papa why do you have to go home to feed the pigs when we don’t have them in our house.” Asked how the provincial government is doing to address the sexual needs of the evacuees, Ludovice curtly replied, “our present advocacy is abstinence for a while.” He admitted that at present the Provincial Health Office has no complete program to address the biological needs of the evacuees. He said putting up isolation rooms is impractical due to lack of classrooms. “We are planning in the long run to put up a container van complete with health reproductive information including condoms so they may enjoy intimate moments,” said Ludovice. The mobile Mayon Love Van will be provided in all evacuation centers. The container van will also provide health information for couples on reproductive health. “At present, we focus more on pycho-social activities to lessen their anxieties, boredom, and, especially stress inside the evacuation center due to restricted movement which prevents them from doing their normal daily activities,” Ludovice said. But the DOH in Bicol has offered to give gift certificates to evacuee couples to enjoy and go out on a date on Valentine’s Day as part of stress debriefing program. “They need( the evacuees) to undergo psycho-social support because they suffered stress, fear, anxiety when they left their homes due to the sudden eruption of Mayon Volcano,” said Ludovice. Child birth inside evacuation centers Ludovice disclosed at least 20 evacuees had given birth at the nearest hospital from the evacuation site as of Feb. 6. “We don’t allow evacuees to give birth inside the evacuation center to ensure a safe birth. The provincial health officer said there were 623 pregnant women; 1,891 lactating mothers; 3,452 senior citizens; 843 persons with disabilities inside the 47 evacuations centers as of January 5. Among the 73,006 evacuees, 18,248 are male. Meanwhile, Ryan S. Altavano, a nurse specialist on population program at the provincial government, reported that the number of new HIV cases in Albay rose to 59 from January to October in 2017 compared to 31 cases during the same period in 2016. “There are still no full-blown HIV cases here,” said Altavano. He said the most common cause of HIV transmission is men having sex with men (MSM). “To address the rising cases of HIV we are advocating safe sex and as much as possible encourage people to become monogamous heterosexual, and encourage reproductive health practices by using condoms,” he said. Lava flows Ed Laguerta, Mayon resident volcanologist, said the most significant activity of Mayon Volcano in the past 24 hours was dominated by lava flows. He also said that about 18.5 million cubic meters of pyroclastic materials are potential materials to become lahar when prolonged heavy rainfall will remobilize the new and the old volcanic debris at the slopes of Mayon Volcano. Mayon’s activity in the past 24 hours was characterized by near continuous lava fountaining, lava flow and degassing from the summit crater. Seventy eight successive lava fountaining episodes, 152 in total since 5:57 a.m. on February 5 have been recorded by the seismic network. Discrete episodes lasted three to 41 minutes and were accompanied by rumbling sounds audible within 10 kilometers of the summit crater. Persistent steam-laden plumes rose up to 2.5 kilometers from the summit before drifting east and northeast. Throughout the night, lava flows and consequent incandescent rockfalls were observed in the Miisi and Bonga-Buyuan channels. Effused volumes of incandescent lava flows have advanced to 3.3 and 4.5 kilometers down the Miisi and Bonga-Buyuan channels, respectively, from the summit crater. Pyroclastic density currents or PDCs have deposited to the 4.6, 4.4 and 4.2 kilometer reaches of the Miisi, Bonga and Basud Gullies, respectively. A total of 83 volcanic earthquakes, most of which corresponded to lava fountaining events were recorded by Mayon’s seismic monitoring network. Sulfur dioxide gas emission was measured at an average of 1,885 tonnes/day on 06 February 2018. Electronic tilt and continuous GPS still record sustained swelling or inflation of the edifice since November and October 2017, consistent with pressurization by magmatic intrusion Renato Solidum, Department of Sciene and Technology(DOST) Undersecretary and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology(Phivolcs), warns disaster and local officials that more magma which he placed at about 70 to 80 million cubic meters inside the erupting volcano is still moving up towards the crater. Alert level 4 remains hoisted at Mayon Volcano.