It is heartbreaking to see pictures of the devastation caused by Taal Volcano. From the most recent updates, we know that more and stronger eruptions are imminent. God forbid. How soon? No one really knows. Not even our very capable Phivolcs scientists can tell for sure.
By the way, what an impressive group of experts we have! Lacking sleep and besieged with all kinds of questions from the press and an anxious public, they have been tireless and incredibly patient, trying to make frightened lay people like us understand what we are up against. Thank God for these dedicated men and women whose passion it is to learn about these things.
I try to imagine what it was like before all this information became available. Eons ago, catastrophic events were unexplainable mysteries. Earthquakes, rumbles underneath the earth, cyclones and storms were thought to be portents of calamities being sent by the angry gods as punishment for wickedness. In some parts of the world, they believed that erupting volcanoes could be appeased only if a virgin was sacrificed and thrown into its crater.
No comment. I don’t dare print what comes to mind.
An old friend from university called days after the eruption. She was sick with worry about the state of her daughter’s house. They live in the south of Manila, and like us in Alabang, got their share of ash fall.
“It’s still falling, I swear!” She complained. “I know I am still inhaling that vile stuff.” I suggested she continue wearing a mask. “My eyes feel terrible. And I have been told I can’t wear my contacts. I look terrible with glasses! As if that was not bad enough, this isn’t about to stop any time soon. And that’s not the worst of it. Our blue tile roof looks ugly and gray with ashes, and you should see our swimming pool!
It will cost an arm and a leg to get all that clean and serviceable again. And should we clean it? There’s bound to be another eruption and more ashes. It’s such a dilemma.” She ranted and rambled on.
She paused to take a breath and I heard myself trying to placate her fears. And then I went into panic mode myself over the condition of our own roof and pool.
And suddenly I was deeply ashamed. I thought, what are we talking about? Let’s get real!
In the face of a calamity that has disrupted the lives of more than 50,000 families, how dare we complain!
More than 200,000 people, including infants and the elderly, escaped to designated safe areas beyond the 14-km radius of the volcano. Towns within the danger zone went on lockdown. They ran for their lives when all hell was breaking loose and have taken temporary shelter in evacuation centers. They have no idea whether they still have homes to return to. All they know right now is that they are safe, at least for the moment.
Phivolcs has not once attempted to minimize the intensity of possible future eruptions. The next event from Taal is predicted to be lethal. It is like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Response from the private and business sectors has been awesome. All roads going south are full of vehicles full of relief stuff. My friend from church set up a lugaw kitchen and has some heartwarming stories to tell. Then there’s the usual red tape, the same old intrigues of who gets the credit. And then there’s this high profile lawmaker who came to “help,” with media and a whole camera crew in tow. I guess that’s par for the course.
Angkas is a Filipino term that means to ride with someone on a bicycle. Today, if you look it up in Wikipedia, it will tell you that angkas is “a Philippine motorcycle ride-sharing and delivery service based in Makati.”
In my day, it meant a long sermon and serious grounding.
Our angkas meant riding behind the bike driver with your arms around his waist, or sitting “side saddle” on the bar in front of him, almost cradled in his arms. It was a big no-no in those days. If you were caught making angkas, there was hell to pay.
Last week I caught the tail end of a Senate hearing where Angkas (today’s version) was the bone of contention.
James Deakin was speaking. Among other things, Deakin is an events host, automotive journalist, social media influencer, road safety advocate and TV host.
I don’t like motorcycles. I hate the way they suddenly zoom in and out of lanes, leaving behind frustrated motorists who have been pitifully stuck in traffic for hours.
But after listening to Deakin, I am ready to carry placards pleading their case.
Deakin is articulate, persuasive, passionate. He spoke with a sense of urgency. He called the traffic situation “a health crisis”. His words: “We are all suffering. Listen to us for a change. We must stop pointing fingers and start pointing forward. It all starts with change. We must ask, is the Filipino worth changing for?”
Oh, I forgot to mention. He is also an inspirational speaker. I’m such a fan!