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Taal Tales

I heard one senator lash out against PHIVOLCS, seeking the agency to be held liable for failing to give appropriate warnings on the eruption of Taal Volcano. Let’s have a snippet of Volcanology 101.

“Volcanologists attempt to forecast volcanic eruptions, but this has proven to be nearly as difficult as predicting an earthquake. Many pieces of evidence can mean that a volcano is about to erupt, but the time and magnitude of the eruption are difficult to pin down. This evidence includes the history of previous volcanic activity, earthquakes, slope deformation, and gas emissions.” (

The senator must have thought that all calamities are typhoons that can be predicted by PAGASA. He must have supposed that volcanologists study something similar to a weather chart that they would see an eruption coming. In that comment in question, the legislator implied that PHIVOLCS personnel withheld information that caused many residents to be caught unaware and unwarned of the eruption’s effects. I would love to laugh at a senate inquiry which would expose the ignorance of presupposition that volcano ash come along just like typhoons do. What for? To show people that they fight for them? Misplaced public service. Why does government position come to be associated with lynching supposed responsible officials to portray justice?

In the spirit of fairness, volcanic eruptions are not totally unpredictable. In a way, it is quite fortunate that Mayon blows off steam roughly once in a ten year period. But which other volcano in the Philippines follows that same regularity? Maybe Pinatubo and Taal also follow their own pattern. But it seems that if ever there is, the pattern spans more or less a century. It is already amazing that authorities have sourced data on the eruption in the 18th century. But that information is not foolproof to predict the series of eruptions. Even Mayon’s 10 year cycle has failed; that there was a time that it erupted nine years after the last one. So, who knows wat arithmetic or geometric progression these monuments of nature subscribe to. There is a reason why volcanic eruptions are not announced with signal warnings. Rather, the authorities assign danger zones in preparation for the unpredictability of outburst. For all we know, it may just die down as suddenly as it dashed up.

Now, I understand even more why the Scriptures say, “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited…” (1 Timothy 3:6)

Our government officials, or even the rest of the populace should learn an important lesson from one household in Batangas. I presume the family is a member of some sect that they (apparently in practice of their faith), took into their private domicile their brethren. That alone is admirable enough. The place where one lives serves beyond shelter. It is a person’s perimeter of privacy. To open one’s doors and share what’s under that roof with other households is already a commendable act of selflessness. But apparently when the prospect or problem came knocking, the formerly sectarian makeshift evacuation center became inclusive for people of dissimilar denominations. For us who sit comfortably on calm cushions, cable TV and wi-fi connection, we may overlook the burden of the daily management of what goes in and out of the human body. We have not considered yet the ratio of the population to the available area of the house. What started as service for similitude has turned as sacrifice for the stranger. I can only surmise that the residents were so moved that they threw their previous plan of exclusive entry out the window, , unmindful of the associated anxieties, and opened their doors to those with diverse devotions, not caring much about partisan affiliation, rather on acceptance and participation.

Now, why can’t the leaders of the land live by that same altruistic attitude? Why are some officials (or even ordinary folk) so adamant in accepting and accommodating only those of their own kind? Why would they exert extra effort to circumvent policies, twist truths, design deceptions, juxtapose justice with junk, remove the righteous, trap the trustworthy, and even erect edifices of exclusivity just to bar those of dissimilar color from their community? Why are people in higher posts (and yes, even those in lower levels) consumed with principles of prejudice that they converge to condemn the other congregation? Maybe it would take a large scale disaster of burning asphalt and Sulphur that would burn the skin of commerce and community for the palace residents to open their doors to people of the other party.

“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others”

1 Corinthians 10:24

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