Mayon evacuees cry for aid; farmers continue harvest

On their third day in Albay bakwit centers, evacuees share their current conditions as Mayon’s unrest intensifies. 

Nanay Buensalita Borlagdan narrated their situation in the center. According to her, she sells handicrafts for a living but due to the sudden evacuation, she was unable to finish her crafts. Although the local government extends aid, she expressed she does not have the money to buy milk and other necessities for her 75-year-old bedridden husband. 

“Magulo doon, maingay ang mga bata, ang karamdaman niya sa baga kaya nahirapan ako sa taas, mayroon naman po, kanin lang po, walang mainom na gatas,” said Nanay Buensalita.

For Mang Sixto, another bedridden evacuee, their situation in the center is more comfortable. 

“Hindi kami hirap kasi may rasyon. May ilaw, libre na. Wala kaming ilaw e,” said his wife Teresita Borero.

‘Safe spaces’

Mayor Krisel Lagman of Tabaco City expressed that the evacuation will take approximately up to three months, given that Mayon volcano’s activity is usually ‘protracted’.

“Ang kaibahan kasi ng mayon volcano eruption is protracted siya ‘di katulad ng bagyo na after a few days balik na naman sila sa bahay nila. This will take two months or even three months so ‘yung mga pangangailangan ng mga tao —normal na pangangailangan — ay dapat na-po-provide natin sa evacuation center. The couples room is a practical intervention so that ‘di na sila kailangang bumalik sa kanilang mga bahay,” Lagman said.

However, the said conjugal rooms have never been used was turned into a joke among the evacuees as married couples were shy to utilize the facility.

“Ang mistake namin doon is dapat talaga private siya at hindi siya nakikita ng lahat ng tao at pupwedeng alamin kung sino ang papasok. So palagay ko, we have to relocate it to a place where hindi doon mismo but accessible pa rin sa kanila,” said Lagman. 

Lagman also emphasized the need to create safe spaces for women and children where mothers can breastfeed and where children can do productive activities like reading.

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Quiet eruption

Meanwhile, several tourists are still hoping to enter Mayon’s skyline, one of the famous spots in Albay. 

According to PSSG Lino Magistrado of Tabaco City PNP, they do not anymore allow tourists who wish to enter Mayon resthouse as it is inside the 6 km permanent danger zone. However, they permit the locals who would harvest their crops. 

Valentin Brocante, a farmer and evacuee of Buang, Tabaco City, said they still have a lot to harvest and they might have to return everyday to fertilize and look after their crops.

Despite the volcano’s recent activities, some residents believe that Mayon’s looming eruption will not be as disastrous as most people fear.

“Ang tubig kapag naghuhubas, ang Mayon makusog ang pagtuga. Pero baga man tumuga bago makusog, ngonian matubigon man,” said Wilfredo Angeles.

According to Angeles, they are observing if the creeks will dry out as it will indicate a devastating eruption of Mayon. But as of now, the flow of water in the creeks is still strong. I Lou Marie Cuarto

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