100 Istoryang Albayano, Segment 12

By Abdon M. Balde Jr.


Here are some records taken from various internet sites and published chronicles related to volcanic activities: The first eruption ever recorded took place on February 1616 and was chronicled by Dutch explorer Joris van Spilbergen. Aside from destructive eruptions, the nearby areas suffered from terrible floods: There are on record at least two great disasters in the Mayon area not directly attributable to volcanic activity but to floods which caused volcanic materials to roll down to the plains and to the sea after the manner of mudflows, only with more mobility and with greater rapidity. The first great disaster of this kind on record was in October 1776, when it was estimated that thousands of people perished and much property was destroyed.

The disastrous eruption of Mayon on February 1, 1814 has been much publisized as it destroyed the towns of Cagsawa and Budiao and brought damages to the towns around the volcano.

There was one great flood on July 27, 1853 that damaged properties and crops in Ligao, Oas, and Polangui. In November 1875, another flood caused heavy destruction to lives and property in areas surrounding the volcano. 

On June 23, 1897, Mayon Volcano erupted for 7 days. Tephra and pyroclastic materials rained over the nearby villages in Bacacay, Libog, and San Roque. The catastrophe killed hundreds of people who were either trapped by floods or hit by hot rocks and steam.” It was the same eruption that prompted Genoveva Baloloy to evacuate Libog (Sto Domingo) and move to Irosin, Sorsogon. Genoveva of course was the maiden who was rumored to be the love of Andres Bonifacio, with whom he was said to have sired a beautiful daughter named Francisca.

Vulcanian eruptions resulted in the spread of volcanic ash, which in the strict sense, fine materials, the size of sand grain and dust derived from new and old rock materials along the volcano’s throat and at the crater. It is carried up by the belches of volcanic gases during eruptions and then acted upon by prevailing winds. Thus, the leeward portion of the volcano gets the shower ash. Such showers could be highly destructive to vegetation and even to animal life, but the soil ultimately yielded by them is so fertile

The people remember the great flood of 1915 which started in areas around the volcano. While that resulted in no great loss of life, it did damage to crops and covered the tracks of the Philippine National Railways, between Legazpi City and Sto. Domingo, with boulders of varying sizes, sand, and gravel. 

In 1928, lava flowed towards Sto. Domingo but was able to reach only as far as the base of the volcano. In 1938, there were short flows in the direction of Sto. Domingo and Camalig. So was it with the 1947 eruption. Flows of the 1968 and 1978 eruptions were directed towards Camalig

Mudflow occurred again on June 30, 1981 which resulted in the deaths of 40 people. Estimated cost of damage to property was placed at millions of pesos. The extrusion of lava from the crater and from fissures opened at its slopes have been two of the characteristics of most of Mayon’s previous eruptions.

As to killer floods, the November 30, 2006 Typhoon Reming brought torrential rains that washed down the millions of tons of ash and sands and rocks that cling on the slopes of the volcano. Casualties during the onslaught of lahar were over 700 residents.