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Spewing and Viewing

I was in Legazpi last week for a research presentation. A person who I’m sure is a high ranking regional official mentioned something about alert level 3. I thought to myself, “Alert level3? He must have said that to incite laughter. Nice sense of humor”. But then, I realized that he wasn’t using that to pull some punchline. He was mentioning a real situation. What? Mayon is on alert level 3? I went here without a clue that Mayon is throwing a tantrum. Not that I would have changed my mind on going; I was already scheduled to go. But it would have been right for a person to know the conditions of the place of destination before travelling there. How could I have been so oblivious to an event which should raise concern of Bicolanos. I know I don’t listen to the news from headline to the humorous segment at the end. But I take a glance at the important items. How could I have missed something as important as this? As it turned out, I was in Legazpi and I was probably the only person who didn’t know that Mayon was on alert level 3. Later that afternoon, one of my companions was telling the tricycle driver that the ATVs would temporarily go out of business. The driver expressed concern on the cancellation of flights. (Well, the cancellation is less of a problem, compared to power outages in NAIA. What is happening there? The airport is not a member of CASURECO or ALECO, is it?) Then they exclaimed as they watch the mountain spew ash and steam.

I feel for the residents in the 6 kilometer radius who have to flee to evacuation centers. Yes, we know that it would be an inconvenient accommodation. Imagine that with the hellish heat today. The males could choose to strip off their shirts and go out for some fresh air. But that air might bring ash with it. I feel itchy all over just thinking about it. The 6 kilometer has since been extended to 7. News has it that evacuation may last for months. That is going to be a large logistical challenge for NDRRMC, DSWD, LGUs and whichever government agency that is involved with making sure that the temporary settlers have their basic needs. My head hurts in the thought of the disruption of work, business, education brought about by this violent volcanic activity.

(On a side note, why do they call it “alboroto”? The image that comes to mind is a child who is throwing a tantrum. I did a little googling and I found out that the word is actually Spanish which supposedly when loosely translated to English, would mean, rampage, riot or commotion. Okay, I get it. A volcanic eruption could be considered a calamity that is similar to a riot, rampage or commotion. But should not news reports use specific terms like “pagtuga”, “pagbuga”, or even “volcanic activity” or “eruption”. Riot, rampageor commotion seems to present a vague image of an event. But since it has been regularly used for volcanic eruption, “alboroto” now means “volcanic eruption”.)

A friend of ours was asking who could join him for some drinks last Saturday night. There were some who replied that they would join him. One, however had to decline because he went to Albay to watch some lava flow down the slopes of Mayon. I guess, that’s okay. He has his own car for transport. I guess it would be fine as long as he and the people he is with stay at the safe distance. It turns out that he was not the only one who had this idea that some may deem “crazy”. Reports have it that “tourists” have flocked to places around Mayon to witness the volcanic spectacle. Well, you have to admit, it is quite tempting to watch orange colored flaming slimy liquid flowing down against a pitch black night at a distance. Not only is it a for lack of a better term, a “tourist attraction”, it is a geological phenomenon, a subject of study that could rarely be viewed at a safe spot. Maybe, we have had eruptions like those in Pinatubo, Taal or Bulusan, but they did not offer the same sights and safety as mayon does. Spectators could watch actual spewing of steam, ash and lava without the threat of getting rained on with ash or run over with lahar. This could present business opportunities. If they won’t buy shirts or souvenirs, certainly, they would buy food and water. These tourists could help with the needs of the evacuation centers. How about donation for volcano observation?

Luke 12:33: “…give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail…”


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