First, where is Mayon?
Mt. Mayon, the Philippines’ most active volcano, is in the province of Albay. The cities and towns that have jurisdiction over it are Legazpi City, Tabaco City, Ligao City, Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Malilipot, and Sto. Domingo. It is about three hours away from Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon (also active), and Mt. Asog (also active) and Mt. Isarog (potentially active) in Camarines Sur.
What is happening?
Alert Level 4 has been raised over the volcano by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). The highest alert level is 5. Alert Level 4 means there’s an imminent big eruption and minor eruptions may occur from time to time. That’s why we see a lot of ash columns emitted from the crater.
Since January 13, the volcano has been spewing lava and ash, but Alert Level 1 has been raised since last year.
Who are affected?
Everyone really. There are close to 80,000 people in evacuation centers right now. Most of them are from the 9-kilometer radius of the volcano, but some residents from even outside the 9 km. have voluntarily evacuated due to ash fall, rock fall events, and earthquakes. The lava has also reached 3.1 kilometers from the crater. Most evacuees are from villages (barangays) in what we call the Mayon unit or those near or inside the permanent danger zones. They are mostly farmers, so they cannot earn money while inside evacuation centers. Those inside the 9-kilometer danger zone are not only the ones affected. Ash fall events have been recorded even in the fifth district of the province of Camarines Sur, where local governments were forced to suspend classes for the safety of the children. As of this writing, there are 11,300 residents in Camalig in different evacuation centers; 11,200 in Daraga; 10,900 in Guinobatan; 5,700 in Ligao City; 5,000 in Malilipot; 6,900 in Tabaco City; 11,300 in Sto. Domingo; 14,600 in Legazpi City; and 600 in Bacacay.
Some groups have moved all the animals to a center where they can be administered with drugs and be fed.
What do the evacuees need?
The basic needs like rice, water, and sleeping mats are being provided by the local government units, government agencies, and non-government organizations, but this unrest may still drag on for a bit longer, so help are still needed. The other necessities are hygiene kits (toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary napkins, wet tissues), face masks (you cannot use a single mask for multiple days), canned goods, noodles, pastries, and other clothes.
How can we help?
You can go directly to the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office at Old Albay District. They are repacking relief goods to be distributed to about 50 evacuation centers in Albay. Or you can donate to Naga City’s humanitarian mission (contact: 0917-526-4477; 054 473-3723), the Simon of Cyrene in Daraga, Rotaract Legazpi (contact: 0915-855-3811), True Colors Bicol Chapter, UP Harong (contact: 0906-244-2024 or 0919-212-1713), Irosin disaster reponders (contact: 0919-831-4437), and Dr. Ofelia Samar Sy and her Indian students at the Bicol Christian College of Medicine.
How can we get updated?
Follow me, Ms. Ma. April Mier, Mr. Mar S. Arguelles, Shan Gabriel Apuli, George Gio Brondial, and the Southern Luzon Bureau of Philippine Daily Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet or @inqnational).
You may submit your stories, poems, photos, and illustrations to Ibalio Stories via email (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com), Twitter (@ibaliostories), or Facebook (@ibaliostories).