By Joseph Almer Pedrajas
TALISAY, Batangas — Residents rescued more animals, mostly horses, from eruption-hit Taal Volcano Island Thursday morning as they tried returning to the island.
The Manila Bulletin saw at least 25 horses in Barangay Sta. Maria here around 9 a.m. They were recently rescued from Volcano Island and were transported via boat. More horses had already been rescued from the island since dawn and transferred to proper facilities, according to locals here.
“Ang mga kabayo’y karugtong na ng aming buhay… Syempre, sila ang aming pinagkakakitaan,” Edwin Maguinao said. (Horses are connected to our lives…they are our livelihood.)
Horses had been a help to residents of the volcano island, particularly tourist guides, because they were used by tourists to reach the peak of the island to see the crater of Taal Volcano.
Jana Sevilla, senior rescue coordinator of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), believed that some 3,000 horses were in the area before the volcano started its eruptive activities.
Many people feared that all the animals there were already dead as ash has blanketed the whole island.
But Sevilla told reporters they were “surprised to see that there were more live animals than those that were dead” when they went to the island Wednesday. “We’re expecting the worst, pero pagdating namin, maraming buhay.” (…but when we arrived, many were alive.)
Members of PETA, who were able to enter here amid the lockdown, assisted residents with care options for their animals. They offered a farm in Alfonso, Cavite as temporary shelter for the residents’ animals. At least 30 horses are already there, Sevilla said.
Some residents preferred to sell their animals. Small horses could be bought for as low as P3,500, four goats for just P13,000, while two cows for P60,000, the residents here disclosed as several transactions were already consummated.
“As much as possible, hindi namin pinapabenta kasi syempre kakatayin,” Sevilla said. “Pero hindi naman namin sila mapipigilan kasi ‘yun ang livelihood nila.” (…we don’t want them to sell because the animals will be slaughtered. But we can’t stop them because that’s their livelihood.)