(UPDATED) An eerie photograph of ash cloud formations around the Mayon Volcano in Albay, Bicol has caught the interest of online Filipinos, as it sparked comparisons to the volcano’s tragic creation myth.
The scene, captured by photojournalist Ciriaco Santiago III, which has gone viral on Facebook, shows the restive jewel of Albay, with its perfect cone obscured by ash clouds on Wednesday afternoon. The cloud bunched on the peak’s left side, some social media users said, seems to outline the shape of two people embracing.
The shot, taken from a vantage point in Barangay Tagaytay, Camalig, Albay, was a bit of an accident, Santiago told ABS-CBN News. While he also saw the cloud’s resemblance to two people embracing, he had other things on his mind.
“Basta naghintay lang kami doon sa lugar for two hours, naka-time lapse ako. Noong nakita ko ang formation, sabi ko mas kailangan ko ang photo na gumugulong at magkasama ang ash formation…pinutol ko agad ang time lapse,” he said in an interview.
While some netizens said the clouds looked like Mary supporting Jesus Christ, others commented that it reminded them of Mayon’s creation myth, which tells of the tragic end of a woman named Magayon (beautiful) who ran away with her warrior-lover to escape an unwanted suitor.
A digitally manipulated image (top) showing the similarity of a photo taken by Ciriaco Santiago III to an illustration by Kerby Rosanes.
Contrary to the romantic and religious notions of others, some social media users said the clouds merely signify that Bicolanos near the volcano should immediately evacuate the area due to the formation’s massive size.
One netizen, meanwhile, panned her fellows’ imagined interpretations with one word: “Pareidolia,” which dictionary Merriam-Webster defines as “the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern.”
Despite conflicting views, however, discussions came to a head when some Facebook users posted a manipulated image showing the similarity of Santiago’s shot to an illustration of Magayon and her lover, by artist Kerby Rosanes.
See the photo and more of the discussions below.
Original illustration by Kerby Rosanes: