At around 8 p.m. of January 11, 2020, here in California, which was about 12 noon of January 12 in the Philippines, my father and I were having a lively conversation over Skype – telling him how my day went at school, while he updated me about his heart-related health condition. We talked for a little over an hour before my dad left for his doctor’s appointment. Little did we know that in the following hours, something catastrophic would happen. On the morning of January 12 (California-time), I was scrolling through Facebook’s news feed when I read about Taal Volcano’s eruption in the Philippines. The little island volcano in the middle of a lake erupted, sending the people of Tagaytay City, and its neighboring cities, in a state of panic and confusion.
A rush of vivid memories of the beautiful and picturesque Taal Volcano suddenly flooded my mind. When I was still a child, many years prior to my immigration from the Philippines five-and-a-half years ago, our family lived in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, which is about a 40-minute drive away from Tagaytay City, Cavite. Tagaytay City is a well-known tourist area as it presents an excellent view of the little Taal Volcano thanks to its elevated landscape. Growing up, we used to visit Tagaytay a lot, not only to enjoy the view of the volcano, but also the cool breezy air that circulates around Tagaytay. On our way home, we would stop by roadside stores that sold native delicacies and fruits – like buko pies, turon, tarts, pineapples, bananas, mangoes, and jackfruits, to name a few. Those were the days when all I knew about Tagaytay was – as my dad would say – “It’s the home of the smallest volcano in the Philippines.”
I immediately contacted my dad upon hearing Taal Volcano’s eruption. Unfortunately, it was already midnight in the Philippines when I was contacting him. Fortunately, he currently lives in Caloocan City, which is located in the region of Metro Manila, and the region was not affected too much by the ashfall the eruption of Taal Volcano produced.
In July 2017, I had just finished attending Moreno Valley College when my dad and I planned my month-long vacation in the Philippines before I transferred to UC Riverside. One month afterward, I flew back to the Philippines after being away for three years. This gave me the opportunity to, again, see and enjoy the picturesque Taal Volcano and the cool refreshing breeze of Tagaytay City. My aunt invited us for a weekend stay at Tagaytay City. It was a joyous feeling; it was reminiscent of the days my family and I used to spend there. It is deeply saddening to know that Taal Volcano erupted. I could not imagine that such a beautiful and wonderful work of nature could bring so much danger, devastation, suffering, and misery to countless families, to tens of thousands of people.
I cannot help but wonder the fate of my hometown, the people, and my friends who live in the City of Sta. Rosa, Laguna. I pray for their safety, especially the cities located within the danger zone of Taal Volcano, as the Filipino people face the threat of a possible second eruption of Taal Volcano. May they be safe, remain steadfast, and continue to have the will to rise from the ashes.