Families recall harrowing experience during Taal’s eruption
“At first, I thought my children were making fun of me, throwing sands on me while I was cleaning the house,” Melanie, 38, said. “But when I saw that that particles were coarse type of ashes and my children were shouting that Taal was erupting, we immediately packed a few items and left. When we reached the street, I saw lots of people running, crying, and vehicles going to and fro. It got dark then because of the thick ashes covering the sky.”
Math wiz child Kenneth, 12, remembered the day they ran to safety. “I got scared. I was holding to my mother as tightly as I could. Everything was dark. There was lightning. It was scary.”
Kenneth was supposed to join a Math quiz bee last Thursday but was postponed due to the eruption. Kenneth has been joining Math quiz bees and is also an honor student.
Taal volcano erupted last January 12, spewing kilometer-high ash plumes. In a span of five hours and after magmatic activities, it was escalated to alert level 4 which means that hazardous explosive eruption is imminent within hours or days.
Ethel, a teacher currently staying in one of the evacuation centers in Nasugbu, thought Taal will not really erupt. When she was very young, her family often evacuate whenever Taal volcano shows signs of unrest. “I thought it was false alarm but it’s real this time.”
Gloria Punzalan, 92, a grandmother who experienced Taal volcano’s eruption twice, said that it has always been a scary experience for her. “It wasn’t as populous as it is now. I remember my husband and I carrying our eight children, running to safety. I thought it wouldn’t happen again but it did.”
Families were advised to stay in evacuation centers until it is safe to return. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned communities against “possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami” due to the magmatic unrest. As of January 18, there are more than 70,000 people seeking refuge in 300 evacuation centers.
World Vision is on the ground, providing emergency essentials that include hygiene kits (bath and laundry soaps, toothbrushes and toothpastes, sanitary packs, nail cutter, undergarments and malong or tube skirt), non-food items (mosquito net, mats and blanket), dust mask and drinking water. Child-friendly spaces will also be set up to help children cope from the distress caused by the disaster while cash-for-work focusing on community clean-up will be implemented towards the early recovery phase of the response.