100 Istoryang Albayano, Segment 11

By Abdon M. Balde Jr.


“Many climbers are enticed to scale the terrains up Mayon Volcano, with varying degrees of difficulty: part forest, part talahib grassland, part desert of rocks and boulders. Mayon is one of the most exciting mountains to climb in the Philippines; beautiful to behold at a distance yet behind the graceful symmetry of its slopes lurk hidden perils. Its rocky borders may be dislodged with a careless foot and turn into a dangerous avalanche.

The safest approach up the crater is from the northwestern slope, which starts at 762 m above sea level on a ledge where the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) research station and the Mayon Resthouse are located. A narrow and winding 8-kilometer paved road links the place to the main highway.

From the Observatory, the trail creeps upwards through a tropical secondary forest, which is replete with a wide variety of flora and fauna. It then cuts across a talahib wilderness and swerves at approximately 1,220 m towards Buang Gully, a ravine formed by ancient molten lava flow.

On the gully’s floor are depressions containing rainwater. At slightly above 1,524 m where water becomes scarce, Buang Gully branches out into two canals. The left fork leads to the transition line at 1,921 m where the grassland ends and the rocky slopes begin. This spot is ideal for a campsite since it is near enough to the summit yet far enough from poisonous fumes which sometimes snakes down the slopes with a sudden shift in wind direction.

After scrambling over rocks and boulders, a cliff system is reached at 2,195 m. A 40-degree ascent on loose volcanic cinder and lava sand follows. And finally–the summit.” –Adapted from Philippines Department of Tourism Brochure

Here are two of the most notable climbers of Mayon Volcano.

Of course there are others like then Secretary of Education Alejandro Roses who reached the crater in 1963. The “Catalogo Biografico de los Religiosos Franciscanos de la Provincia de San Gregorio Magno de Filipinas”by Eusebio Gomez Platero pp 65-66 had this entry: “Esteban Solis, OFM: Born in Extremadura, Spain, he was a soldier who came to the Philippines with a relative, Governor Francisco de Sande in 1575. He was sent for the pacification of Camarines. He became a priest in 1585. Fray Esteban Solis was the first to climb and reach the crater of Mayon in 1591 to dispel the superstitions of the indios. He discovered three mouths or vents in the crater. As a result of the ascent and the difference in temperature to which he was exposed, he fell ill and died in Manila in 1592.”

Another intrepid Mayon climber is Ricardo Dy: Born in 28 July 1932 in Cullat, Daraga, he started trekking up Mayon in 1941 when he was only 9 years old. He first reached the summit in 1956. He has climbed Mayon more than 600 times. In 1991 he brought his 11 years old daughter to the crater. He was the oldest, at 78, to climbed Mayon in 2010. In 2014 the Provincial Government of Albay recognized his feats and bestowed upon him the Outstanding Albayano Award in the field of Tourism.