Arts & Culture News

​Restless Mayon: The view in Legazpi City

Farm animals watch an angry Mayon with awe. The volcanic rumblings are accompanied by dogs howling in the dead of night. Photo by Ezra Acayan.

After the big bang Monday noon, Mayon has given Albayanos a glorious spectacle of its ethereal beauty and a good hint of its mysterious fury as it roared and disgorged volcanic rocks and red-hot lavas literally after every four hours until early Wednesday morning and afternoon.

The volcanic rumblings could be heard as far as Daraga and Ligao City making residents nervous even as dogs howled in the dead of night.

Over in Legazpi City (Pop. 196,639), old Albay resident Dehna Rebustillo Sevilla took a picture of the angry volcano from her terrace and gushed: “Even in your fury, you are still beautiful!”

Beautiful Mayon as seen in the terrace of Albay resident Dehna Rebustillo Sevilla. This is the same terrace where pianist Cecile Licad had her first view of Mayon in 1975. Photo by Dehna Sevilla.

Photographer Renato Jao raved, “Damn. This freaking display of raw power!”

The non-stop display of lava spectacular seen in Legazpi City has rendered photographers sleepless one of them said the Mayon show was like the German Moreno TV show, “Walang Tulugan (No sleep).”

The recurring show of force prodded local authorities to extend the danger zone to nine kilometers. At the rate it is spewing lavas and gargantuan rocks, Phivolcs expected a more explosive eruption.

In the past few days, the volcano with its regular show of fountain of lavas made it the most photographed and the most widely covered eruption since 1897, thanks to modern technology.

Red-hot Mayon spewing red hot lavas as captured by Renato Jao. The epitome of dangerous beauty.

In Legazpi City where tourists have started to fill up hotels, the regular update has made Albay the national landmark for the moment.

For the benefit of tourists, the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office has issued this bulletin on the safe places where visitors can watch the eruption.

Jao, who does Mayon Watch for the Office of Representative Joey Salceda of the second district of Albay, said “As far as Legazpi City is concerned, it remains unaffected. Daily life as well as trade and commerce continue. The only thing different is the frequent eruption which lately comes in about four to five-hour interval. When this happens, everybody stops and marvel at the force of nature on display.”

Guide for visitors issued by the Albay Provincial Tourism Office. Tourists are advised to watch regular eruptions only in designated safe places.

“Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for people who live within the permanent danger zones who are forced to relocate to temporary evacuation center. Same is true also for towns in parts of the second district and third district which are severely affected by volcanic ashes that blanket the entire area,” Jao added.

The continued eruption led to extended cancellation of classes with Rep. Salceda announcing the postponement of the yearly Cagsawa Festival. “I think it’s better that we just commemorate the deadly Mayon eruption of 1814,” he posted in Facebook.

The February 1, 1814 eruption of Mt. Mayon partially destroyed Sawangan and buried Cagsawa, Budiao and Camalig towns. It killed more than 2,400 inhabitants.

Latest partial figures from the PDRRMC as of Tuesday morning reported swelling number of evacuees consisting of 15,468 families the equivalent of 60, 564 persons.

Also an avid Bicol tourism advocate, Jao said this is the third time he saw Mayon erupt since the 90s and then on 2014 when the volcanic activities lasted four months. “I was already working for then governor Salceda. That eruption though was different. Mostly silent with lava cascading like a river of fire. This is the third and so far, the more ‘violent’ with frequent ash and lava dome collapses.”

Quite visible in the Mayon relief operations is the Team Albay Youth Organization (TAYO) organized by Salceda.

Members of the Team Albay Youth Organization (TAYO) packing relief goods for Mayon evacuees. Photo from the FB post of Rep. Joey Salceda.

Jao pointed out TAYO was created during the governorship of Salceda with the purpose of involving the youth in community and nation building. “They do relief efforts among other things. I have no idea what happened to Team Albay. It used to be very active and always in the lead doing assistance in disaster-stricken areas not just in Albay. For now, Rep Salceda has been silently coordinating relief distribution efforts and keeps updating people with useful and relevant information.”

In the past natural calamities in Albay under Salceda, the term zero casualty was the standard, “Jao said.

With Mayon getting increasingly active and aggressive every day, Jao looks at her as a double-edged sword. “Mayon is both life maker and death bringer. The best and freshest vegetables grow at the foot of Mayon and yet, many died when lahar buried towns around its foot. Its beauty attracts huge crowd. More so during eruption. Hotel and restaurant industry usually performs well during eruption. Indeed, it is fascinating to watch. At the same time, it makes you realize and understand your mortality. Truly the epitome of dangerous beauty.”