‘So we can move on’: Natanauan firm on return to Talisay, asks for restoration of electric power to town

Published January 21, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hanah Tabios

“Kung mangyaring pumutok nang malakas ‘yan [at] nandito ako, namatay sila, namatay ako, at wala na silang makakasuhan [dahil] patay na kaming lahat.”

(If there’s a massive eruption [and] I’m here, they died, I died, and they’ll have no one to charge, because we’ll all be dead.)

Vice Mayor Charlie Natanauan (FACEBOOK)
Vice Mayor Charlie Natanauan (FACEBOOK)

These are the words of Talisay Vice Mayor Charlie Natanauan, who seemed unbothered by the interior department’s warning against him for encouraging his constituents to return to their homes, despite the no-entry policy recommended by the country’s state volcanologists in some areas in disaster-hit Batangas province.

In a television interview on Tuesday, not only did Natanauan stand by his earlier pronouncements, but he even asked rural power utility Batangas II Electric Cooperative Inc. (Batelec II) to activate their power supply so that they can rebuild their lives.

“Ini-encourage ko kung ilo-lock down man ng DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) at utos siguro ng Presidente ay kung maaari ay sila ay maglinis na, at ako ay nananawagan din sa Batelec na lagyan na kami ng kuryente, dahil hindi kami makaka-move on sa buhay kung walang kuryente,” he said.
(I encourage that if the DILG locks down and the President says they can clean up, and I am appealing to Batelec to restore electric power to our town, because we can’t move on with our lives without electricity.)

Despite the local official’s criticism of their recommendations, officials of the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) diplomatically dealt with the issue and said they respect Natanauan’s opinion. However, the agency maintained their recommendations based on scientific data.

But the local official fired back and said that Phivolcs is making their ordeal even harder. “Para sa aking opinyon, hindi ho magandang pakinggan, pero mas tinatakot niyo po ang tao kaysa kumbinsihin nating pabalikin at maka-move on.”

(In my opinion, it might not be nice to hear, but you’re scaring people, rather than letting us convince them to return and move on.)

With Alert Level 4 still raised over Taal Volcano, Phivolcs warned the public that the “calmness” displayed by Taal over the past few days is not an indication that the danger is over.

In fact, on Tuesday’s press briefing, Phivolcs’ volcano monitoring division chief Maria Antonia Bornas said Taal remained swollen with magma.

“Even if we have a diminishing trend on earthquakes, the fact is, earthquake signifies that magma has been intruded. So, the eruptible magma na pwedeng iputok ng bulkan (that the volcano can throw up) was already in place.
So, that is why even if the earthquake is diminishing, we have ground deformation parameter signifying that the volcano is still inflated and still inflating,” she said.

But Natanauan replied: “Saang lugar? Saang portion? Dapat ipinapaliwanag nila kung saang portion kasi kung sinasabi nilang umaangat ang magma, [kailangan din nilang ipaliwanag] kung ano ‘yung kanilang equipment na ginamit para medetect nila doon.”

(In what place? What portion? They should explain which portion, because if they’re saying the magma is rising, they also have to explain what equipment they used to detect that.)

Natanauan, who seemed misinformed, also questioned the agency regarding the fissures or ground cracks in several areas in Batangas.

“Ngayon, ako naman ay nakikiusap sa Phivolcs na kung maaari ay sabihin kung saang lugar, hindi komo lumutang sa Lemery, ang lupa umangat sa Taal, sa Agoncillo, ibig sabihin ba n’yan doon puputok ang bulkan?”

(I am appealing to Phivolcs to tell us, in what place? Just because the ground rose up in Lemery, in Taal, in Agoncillo, does that mean the volcano will erupt there?)

Folk science

The United States National Library of Medicine defined folk science as “certain ways of understanding the natural and artificial world that arise more informally and not as direct reflections of formal instruction in scientific principles.”

Vice Mayor Natanuan has repeatedly said his narratives were based on his father’s personal accounts of the 1965 Taal volcano eruption.

But veteran science journalist Annie Murphy Paul said these widely-shared assumptions pose a dilemma for science educators to prove their work.

In the same interview, Natanauan also said: “Ang history ng bulkang ito, kung makikita niyo at ako’y nakakapunta roon noong ako ay binata pa, noong 1965 ay pumutok, ang hukay malamim. Malakas nag-produce ng lava dahil nainit na mainit at may mga batong dala, dahil sa lakas ng putok at nag-produce ng malaking hukay.

(This volcano’s history — if you see this, and I went there when I was a young man – it erupted in 1965, there was a big hole. There was a lot of lava because it was very hot, there were rocks in there because of the force of the eruption, and it created a massive hole.)

“Ngayong 2020, hindi nag-produce ng malaking hukay at hindi rin nag-produce ng lava [pero may] kaunti lang siguro doon sa gilid na gilid, pero hindi rin dumaloy sa tubig. Ibig sabihin humina sya.”

(Now, in 2020, it did not produce a huge hole, and did not produce lava. Maybe there was a little on the sides, but there wasn’t enough of it to flow down to the lake. That means it’s weak.)