Living with the impacts of a volcanic eruption: insights from the Philippines

27 January 2020

Stock image of volcanic ash cloud. Image by Pexels from Pixabay

In our accompanying piece, we look at how churches in the Philippines have responded to the multiple disasters that have affected the country in the last few months. Here, we share a more personal perspective on the impacts of the most recent of the disasters, the eruption of Taal volcano.

Tina, a good friend of the Anglican Alliance in the Philippines, writes: “We, together with fellow Filipinos, are very much concerned about those who are devastated and traumatized by the eruption. We are also very concerned that thousands of animals died, and it’s only now that those that survived are being gradually rescued and fed. The nearby lakes and rivers are yielding dead fish and seafood, so the source of living for the people in the endangered zone, especially the fisherfolks and farmers, are mostly gone – so there’s need for new sources of livelihood.”

However, Tina continues: “The spirit of ‘bayanhian’ or helping one another has come alive. For example, a certain Christian ministry in Quezon City adopted survivors of trafficking, who were displaced by the eruption, in their retreat center. Thank God for sisters and brothers who risked their lives to fetch them from steep places, and for lots more people who care for them where they are now staying, safe and far from the eruption area.

“Another positive thing is that nearby towns are opening their homes to as many as 22 people per home, so that they have places to sleep, rest and have refuge. Teams of people are also coming to the evacuation centers to cook for the evacuees. There is continuous need for food, clothing, shelters and, since some places are locked down and have become uninhabitable, livelihoods.

“According to PHIVOLCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology), we are bracing for more eruptions and possibly a big one, so please pray for us, especially our fellow Filipinos who are now homeless and without livelihood and are becoming more depressed and restless because of the uncertainty ahead. The atmosphere has changed since the eruption and it’s both positive and negative: good because we are seeing Filipinos taking care of Filipinos, yet bad because our already poor nation is now poorer because of this unexpected eruption. We continually hope and are certain that our Immanuel will see us through.”