From me, A Batangueno

Despite the uncertainty and devastation, there are stories of hope and inspiration. Batanguenos helping each other, as well as Cavitenos, Bulakenyos, Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Davaoenos and others sending help to our province.

I am writing this article mainly as an expression of gratitude to a number of people.

I am a native of Lipa City, Batangas. My hometown's history and that of my home province, Batangas, are tied to that of Taal Volcano. For instance, the first settlers had to leave the original site of Lipa along the shore of Taal Lake and move several times before settling at the current location on a plateau several kilometers away due to the eruption of Taal Volcano.

Again, the spirit of the Barakong Batangueno is being tested by the volcano. For the first time since 1977, the volcano is once again showing its might, spewing ash, rocks and minerals into air that reached as far as Metro Manila and turned the towns close to the lake into either virtual deserts of gray or, after mixing with rain generated by the volcanic eruption's own weather system, virtual mud traps. Thousands of Batanguenos from the communities within 14 kilometers from the main crater of Taal Volcano had to be evacuated en masse as the experts predict a large and violent eruption occurring within days.

Government response has been quick and, so far, efficient. The Provincial Government of Batangas has been working closely with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and other national agencies since Taal Volcano was placed under Alert Level 1 on March 2019, resulting to the drafting of plans of how to evacuate residents, identification of evacuation centers. This is the perhaps the reason why there are no reports of casualties, so far, and that residents who were evacuated from their communities are now in shelters with their needs being attended to. 

Despite the uncertainty and devastation, there are stories of hope and inspiration. Batanguenos helping each other, as well as Cavitenos, Bulakenyos, Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Davaoenos and others sending help to our province. First responders from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard and other government agencies risking their lives and limbs to help residents of Talisay, Laurel, Agoncillo and other communities around Taal Lake to leave for safer areas while enforcing the law and ensuring security to protect the properties and livelihood sources left behind. 

The eruption of Taal Volcano brought the best out of my fellow Batanguenos and our fellow Filipinos. The spirit of bayanihan is still alive and well in the 21st century Philippines. I am optimistic that such display of goodness will be done at all times and not just during difficult times.

On behalf of my fellow Batanguenos, I would like to express my sincerest thanks to all of those who helped, are helping and will be helping us and our province. Rest assured that the barako that is the Batangueno will rise up from the ashes that came from the volcano, stronger and better. Taal Volcano only strengthened us Batanguenos as a people and as a province.

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About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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