Are we in for an eruptive year? It’s only the second week of the month but both man-made and natural disasters have already befallen us. Though, the Middle East situation has quieted down for now, authorities are preparing for contingencies to repatriate thousands of our fellow citizen should the need arise.
Mother Nature, meanwhile, is unleashing its wrath: A severe winter in Chicago, heavy snowfall, rain, and flash floods, avalanche in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the still uncontained bushfire that has engulfed Victoria and New South Wales, Australia and here, the eruption of Taal Volcano.
The otherwise quiet, lazy afternoon last Sunday which, by the way, marked the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord officially ending the Christmas season, went chaotic with Taal letting loose its fury that had been percolating as far back as March last year. The ashes spewed reached as far as Metro Manila. Butch Dalisay tweeted that the longest word in the English language – pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis – which is the lung disease you can get from inhaling volcanic dust, “just became relevant.”
In the book “The Mysteries of Taal: A Philippine Volcano and Lake, Her Sea Life and Lost Towns” published in 1991, Thomas Hargrove wrote the eruption in 1754 that lasted for 6 months from May to December buried five Batangas towns – Tanauan, Taal, Lipa, Bauan, and a lost town that was never revived named Sala. These accounts he shared in a PEP Talk interview show with now Sen. Loren Legarda. Thomas was an American agricultural scientist and editor of the International Rice Research Institute.
The cataclysmic eruption altered the salinity of the water from salt to freshwater. Fish varieties, Bigeye Jack or talakitok and sardines were trapped inside the lake gave way to new species maliputo and tawilis, which are found exclusively in the country. Mr. Thomas and his team had a diving expedition in the murky water of the lake. His extensive research showed fossils of old coral reefs, evidence that once upon a time it was saltwater.
Based on the restlessness of Taal, the big bang may still be forthcoming. Mariton Bornas, Phivolc’s chief of volcano monitoring and eruption prediction division, a PhD in geochemistry, explained Taal’s condition and restiveness, graphically providing parallelisms that ordinary persons can understand.
The eruption may have caught us off guard but it has awakened the three virtues faith, hope and charity, in us, in NGOs, foundations, and corporates to lend a helping hand. The Rotary Club of Paseo de Roxas “ready to help, happy to serve,” donated sleeping mats while its sister club RC Midtown Tarlac, and Victory Liner donated used queen-size bedsheets from Microtel Baguio and Cabanatuan, old bus curtains from Victory Liner, which could be of use in the evacuation centers, and sleeping mats.
Tulong Kapatid, the consortium of companies and foundations of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, distributed food and relief packs and assisted in the clearing operations others. Smart and Globe provided mobile charging stations at evacuation centers.
The disaster situation has once again awakened the bayanihan virtue in us.
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