It was an otherwise laidback Sunday afternoon in Tagaytay. Families were enjoying their usual weekend jaunts and bonding time. At a wedding happening overlooking the lake, guests were celebrating the union of their friends. Until people started looking at the majestic view of Taal Lake and noticed something was up. And the pictures started to spread like wild fire on social media. Taal Volcano, the 43-year-old dormant behemoth, had erupted. Its last eruption was sometime in October 1977.
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People from neighboring municipalities of Taal were shaken. “What a nightmare, dude. We’re not sure if matutuloy ’yung wedding. Pina-evacuate na kami,” a wedding guest at Escala Hotel messaged his friend.
“Pababa na ang brother ko ng Tagaytay, nag-evacuate na sila,” says a friend, whose brother owns Hangin Garden, a bed and breakfast in Tagaytay.
“Nakakaranas sila ngayon ng pag-ulan ng bato at buhangin. Maputik ang ulan na bumabagsak at nakasusulasok na amoy ang nalalanghap nila. Bago pumutok ang Taal, lumindol muna ng ilang beses, then naglabas ng usok ang Taal at ilang minuto lamang ay tuluyan na itong pumutok,” relates a friend, whose parents live in Brgy. Janopol, Tanauan City, Batangas. “Sabi ng relatives ko from Brgy. Wawa, Tanauan, Batangas, pumapatak na daw po mismo maliliit na bato,” she adds.
“Naririnig na ang dagundong sa Paseo de Sta. Rosa. Umuulan na ng bato,” reports my coffee date, reading from her phone. Her friend was traversing the streets of Laguna.
“Sa Nasugbu din po umabot na ang maliliit na bato,” reads a message from a farmers’ Facebook group.
At 4 p.m., the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has raised the alert status of Taal from Level 2 (increasing unrest) to Level 3 (magnetic unrest). “As of 1404H (2:04 PST), Taal Volcano Main Crater has escalated its eruptive activity, generating an eruption plume 1 kilometer-high accompanied by volcanic tremor and felt earthquakes in Volcano Island and barangays of Agoncillo, Barangas. Ashfall is currently being showered on the southwest sector of Taal,” reads the Taal Volcano Bulletin.
Alert Status 2 means that there is magmatic intrusion that likely driving the current activity. PHIVOLCS strongly recommends Taal Volcano Island and high risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel, Batangas be evacuated due to the possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami.
The public is reminded that the entire Volcano Island is a Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), and entry into the island as well as high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel is prohibited. In addition, communities around Taal lake shore are advised to take precautionary measures and be vigilant of possible lakewater disturbances related to the ongoing unrest.
The governor of Cavite, Jonvic Remulla, has already announced the suspension of classes in all levels tomorrow, January 13. “Due to the heavy ash fall being experienced in Cavite, it is best for everybody to stay indoors. The ash fall may result in respiratory disorders. Mga magulang, ingatan po natin ang atin mga anak,” his Facebook posts reads.