Home City Events LIKE A PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES Surviving the Taal Volcano Eruption as...

LIKE A PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES Surviving the Taal Volcano Eruption as a Nation


On January 12, 2020, the quaint touristy town of Tagaytay broke out into a panic. Taal Volcano erupted in a phreatic explosion. An ash cloud reached 15 kilometers into the sky, with lightning bolts adding to the panic. The ash plume rained black ash over Metro Manila, reaching as far as 80 kilometers to the north. The government imposed an evacuation among the towns of Balete, San Nicolas, Talisay, and the town surrounding the shores of Taal Lake.

On January 13, PHIVOLCS observed a lava fountain at 3:20am. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources noted that the air quality in Metro Manila had worsened. Residents of Metro Manila imprisoned themselves indoors, creating glasshouses out of condominiums and houses, shutting windows and doors and covering any air entry points.

By January 16, sulfuric acid levels had all but disappeared. Alert levels were dropped. People went back to work, children went back to school, and the nation tried to rebuild itself. The country is well known for its long Christmas season, which extends way past Three Kings Day — not in 2020. The volcano covered everything in hostile black sand, which can be lethal if inhaled or ingested through water or food, because of the fine silicone particles that can clog the lungs and respiratory tracts.

People were shell shocked and terrified. But life went on. And before you knew it, the famed Filipino resiliency took a hold of its people once more. The stouthearted Filipinos continue to rebuild their lives until today, a month after the Taal explosion. The landscape may be dustier and dimmer, but our hearts certainly are not.

Join HousingInteractive’s Errol as he brings us on a shocking visual journey of the area around Taal, weeks after the explosion, and see with your very eyes how the Filipinos are rallying in spite of the disaster.

We came and went and our lives were spent up a long old dusty road
(Jerry Jeff Walker, Long Ol’ Dusty Road)

The Department of Education closed down schools to protect its children…
But eventually the kids had to shuffle through and around the ash fall to make it back to their classrooms.
May the next generation of scientists and citizens find a way to protect us in the future.

The usually vibrant Fora mall shows a greyer and more subdued facade now.

Tagaytay’s Citizens work hard to recoup the lost earnings from cities moved to a standstill by the phreatic eruption

The picturesque tourist town of Tagaytay has changed. A fraction of the horses your children would ride around picnic groves and hiking trails have been rescued — a larger fraction passed away in the ash fall. Residents have been relocated to a safer venue. Trees are less lush. The roads? Empty. Dusty. Somehow, longer than before.

What of the beautiful country homes, the manors, the luxury properties, the casinos? Tagaytay was a city wall-to-wall with enjoyment, from the quaint touristy treks, to glittery casinos, to picturesque B&Bs, and even a private country club. From shanty to showpiece, everything is covered in black ash.

Mother Nature changed the face of Tagaytay. One day, slowly and cheerily moving into the new year after the Christmas festivities. The next day, a greyish wasteland, suffering from the aftermath of a sudden explosion.

The residents try to rebuild their lives, day by day, step by step.

For how long will you be dormant this time, Taal? Hopefully for longer.


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