Share |

Re-visiting Mayon

"Mayon, the volcano that has destroyed the coast town of Libog, and several neighboring villages in the Philippines, has aroused itself after a slumber of twenty-eight years. The eruption has not come as a surprise to students of volcanoes, because although quiescent, it was known to be active. During the nineteenth century 26 eruptions occurred, with especially violent ones in 1814 and 1897. The Philippines boast a dozen volcanoes that are classified as active, but eruptions of most of them are rare. Mayon, and its neighbor, Taal, both of which are in South Luzon, are the most energetic of the lot, though no severe eruption of Taal has happened since 1754."

That was the description of a writer in the Science News-letter of Aug. 11, 1928. The name of the town of "Libog" has since been changed to Sto. Domingo but the fiery of Mayon has never diminished since then.

According to the writer, "When Mayon erupted in 1897, the circumstances must have been very similar to the present one (referring to the 1928 eruption. The writer said the one in 1897 "started without warning on June 23." With no machine or scientist standing by and with no media people queuing at Lignon Hill like last week, there was no way then for people to know about the impending catastrophe. As the writer puts it: "By the next day it began to excite alarm, and on the day after that began its work of destruction." This work of destruction came in the form of lava flowing "down the side and for seven miles to the east; volcanic ash was rained over the surrounding country for 100 miles to the east and 75 miles to the west."

The writer continues:  "Finally, by June 30, the volcano was again quiet. The next eruption was in 1900, and since then it has been inactive." Take note that the next eruption, if we are to believe this documentation took place in 1900, three years after the last. This puts to rest the myth that Mayon erupts or becomes active every ten years. In fact, the 1928 article carries the title "Volcano Active After 28 Year Rest."

Then and now, Mayon always puts up a spectacular performance. But even in repose, Mayon in those years had a dark and dangerous charm of its own.  Dr. Samuel Kneeland who had written much about Mayon recalls how "Sailing between Masbate and Ticao, at noon we reached Donzol (Donsol), in the province of Albay; leaving there at night on our way south around the point of the Camarine (sic) peninsula, we came in sight of the volcano of Mayon, whose glowing top looked like a lighthouse, twenty-five miles distant."

Strangely, that ember of a point was not always there. The 1928 article notes also how the inactivity of the volcano removed the fire from the mouth of the volcano: "Even the fiery glow which its vapors gave forth at night for centuries has been absent in recent years."