In a flash, the scene seemed culled from a bad dream of black, silver and gray.
Men in shirts, boots and sometimes filthy skin showed up to clear the roads for cars and open trucks full of living men and women who resembled zombies, their hair and faces thick with ash, travelling for safer destinations.
Less than a day after the Taal volcano spewed hot gas and ash, moving symbols of life scattered away from the once quaint Batangas town to which the mountain had been named.
Government has ordered the evacuation of residents near and in the fringes of the Taal volcano. And they responded well.
Only soldiers, the members of local police forces and the crucial LGU teams stayed in harm’s way to make the fleeing residents safe.
Soldiers, based on the Tribune team’s account on the ground, joined teams from the LGU and the Department of Public Works and Highways in clearing the main highways and arteries to make road travel safer.
Small cars still made their way out of the vicinities near Taal, along with the heavy trucks which took in evacuees and brought them to centers opened by the government, churches and the public sector.
At times, groups fleeing the scene of eruption had to wade through six-inch thick mud of lahar, the occassional rain not only getting them drenched but covered in dust which hardened when dry.
Food was offered for free by some citizens who meet them along their escape routes. Some washed and wiped their dust-covered windshields to make their travels safer. Others offered drinks and some more, their homes.
The Filipino spirit of bayanihan was alive.
But residents living near the Taal Lake are worried that the after-effects of the series of earthquakes that jolted various parts of Batangas would permanently affect their lives.
This was reported by two town mayors during an emergency inter-agency meeting on the Taal volcano eruption held at Tagaytay International Convention Center on Monday morning.
Lemery, Batangas Municipal Mayor Larry Alilio said their residents are already experiencing trauma amid at least 2,000 shakes since Sunday afternoon up to 4 a.m. on Monday.
“The quakes come constant. Every minute, every second. Our people can feel the strong effects of the earthquakes and they now have trauma,” Alilio told the inter-agency panel.
Phivolcs Supervising Science Research Specialist Winchelle Ian Sevilla said earthquakes, especially in areas near the crater, are expected during a volcanic eruption.
Laurel, Batangas Municipal Mayor Joan Amo also shared that her constituents fear a possible volcanic tsunami. Locals, she said, observed that the lake water has moved by around two meters from the shore.
with Yummie Dingding and Trina Ibarle