The Mayon volcano, dubbed to be the volcano with the almost perfect cone, is said to erupt any day from now. It has now become a local news staple and has also earned itself a separate segment like the bored housewife’s useless serving of entertainment gossip. And much to the chagrin of the media outlets awaiting the volcano’s outburst, it has not yet erupted as of this writing. I only imagined the insensitive boredom of the news reporters though. But there is nothing to sensationalize about a natural disaster. You can not simply tell a tsunami to stop its course because your camera crew has not set-up at the best location to get a good perspective of the event.
I did see the volcano in its tame form last June. We missed it when we we are at Lingñon Hill, the best spot to view the volcano in all its glory. But when we went to the Cagsawa ruins later in the afternoon, the clouds parted for a few minutes, revealing the volcano’s perfect contour.
Except for the tourists recreating the illusion that they are pinching the tip of the volcano, it was exactly how it looks in the postcards. The Bicolanos are probably used to seeing it every day. But for me, it was a different experience seeing it for the first time, even for just a brief moment.
Its imminent eruption would probably cap the movie storyline that no Filipino would want to watch anymore. I thought that the Philippines had already its share of calamities this year. We saw how Ondoy sent highly urbanized cities to their knees. We lamented at the meaningless deaths of civilians and journalists in Southern Philippines. And very recently, we are shocked at the untimely collision of two ships on Christmas eve.
But in 2009, we also witnessed the indomitable spirit of the Filipino spirit amidst all the gloomy headlines. The world now would probably associate the Philippines with a fearless boxer, a groundbreaking filmmaker, a pushcart educator and two of the most sensational entertainers of this generation. But there are also faceless names and nameless faces who became heroes in their own right – the call center agent in Cebu who donated her used clothing for the typhoon victims in Manila and the soldier who dared to take the first photographs of the grim Maguindanao massacre.
I cannot say the same pattern of heroism, tragedy, victory and defeat would show up in the coming year. It could get worse. And it could also get very boring. I can only hope that we would now look at every monumental loss with maturity and resilience. I also hope that we would also look at every triumphant breakthrough with sobriety and gratitude.
For those in the evacuation centers right now in Albay, may I somehow assure you that you are not alone in your prayers. You have an unpredictable yet majestic volcano which has been a mute witness to everything you and the previous generations have undergone. Just hold on to every hope left in your hearts, for that may be more than enough for you to face 2010 without any fear and reservation.