It has been a week since the first major activity of the Taal Volcano in decades had sent residents within its fringes scampering for safety, but the threat of a big eruption is still present.
An Alert Level 4 remains raised as the Phivolcs (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) expects a hazardous eruption “within hours to days.”
The agency wants it to come soonest, so as to alleviate the plight of the thousands of evacuees who have left most of their possessions and are now camping out in the various evacuation centers scattered around Batangas, Cavite and Laguna, the nearest to Taal en route to Metro Manila.
One time, big time. But just be quick.
Daily Tribune on Sunday checked several of the evacuation centers in some towns of Cavite, Nasugbu in Batangas and then back to Tagaytay, and found the victims receiving support from the many private groups who sourced information from schools, churches and non-government organizations to pinpoint the recipients of the relief goods they have gathered the whole of last week.
Bike groups, school fraternities and sororities, student organzations, families and village homeowners’ associations were in the forefront of the activities this paper had witnessed first-hand.
Traffic to Batangas since Thursday leading to the weekend was tight, but nobody complained. It was all good because it meant more relief is coming to our people in need.
Government was also active in ensuring support is given to the evacuees. Tents had been provided to the hundreds of displaced
people who trooped to the evacuation areas provided by the barangays.
The gymnasiums, open spaces, small parks and anything that can house people were left open to those who would still come in. Barangay officials have been busy providing them with security. Food and water come in time.
In Tagaytay, it was not surprising to see private houses teeming with people who are evacuees from the nearest sitios to the lake that once provided them with their livelihood, mostly through tourism, which gave the linked cities and towns of Batangas and Cavite their life.
Taal and the lakes that host it were the main features of that postcard life. They provided them with food, nourished their land for crops, set up the scenery that served as magnet to the tourists, while its people gave its days color and lovely hues.
Tagaytay’s green is trying to survive. Only the top of trees and plants which just last week were verdant and welcoming had turned brown and gray.
Its people are confident they would return to the same lush that made the city livable. They share the same spirit and hope with the rest of the temporary communities of Taal’s survivors which have sprouted in many areas affected by the volcano’s initial eruption.
The mouth of the mountain seemed calm on Sunday. White smoke danced on its top in seemingly very slow motion, like there was no impending danger that it was ready to spit out.
The Phivolcs does not want us to be complacent. Activities underneath the volcano belie the slow tango of fumes and the calm skies’ motion.
It has to come out soon, and big time.
The fear among the evacuees have subsided, however.
They have found peace and comfort with the strangers who have welcomed them with open arms.
He is the baton-wielding tanod. The helmet-clad biker who brought the sack of rice for his tandem. He was the priest, pastor and school administrator who opened their gates to them.
We can never be prouder of Juan de la Cruz.
He rose to the occasion when our people are in need. He did not have color nor branding, just the Filipino who cares.