When Taal erupted…


When the Philippines Red Cross came out with recommendations about what to pack in an emergency go-bag, I read it thoroughly, carefully and many times. Then we promptly (only) bought  emergency whistles.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6-7 

I’ve lived through earthquakes in California, nuclear threats in South Korea, but no exploding volcanoes—until now. While it took me a day to get over the effects of one and I lived in happy oblivion to the other, the effects of Taal seem to linger.

Maybe it’s because I have a kid now and I’m more sensitive to danger. Maybe it’s because I’m older and  more aware of my mortality. Or maybe it’s because Taal is still at Alert level 4  which means that a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within HOURS or DAYS.

Although to be honest, when it first exploded on Sunday (Jan. 12), we didn’t even know. We were out shopping at a wet market and I thought the grit on my face was from pollution, not ashfall.

Monday was a different story. It was eerily quiet. I kept Journie indoors all day. That night we went to our local mall; most of the retail stores were closed. The restaurants, however, were open (hey, people need to eat) but the customers chatted in somber, quiet tones. I felt uneasy.

I kept Journie indoors again all Tuesday and Wednesday because I was concerned about ashfall. I obsessively hunted for Taal Volcano updates and reliable websites on air quality. I started to feel paranoid.

The phone calls with my parents didn’t help. One came at 4 IN THE MORNING.

“Bleuh?” Bjorn said.

“Be careful!!!” my dad said excitedly. “You’re living over a major fault line and the volcano could trigger a huge earthquake!!!”

I screeched at him that it was late, irritated by what I deemed an irrational warning. But later that morning, I taught Journie how to “Stop, Drop and Take Cover.”

Oddly, his seeming lack of concern also excited the same levels of ire and anxiety.

“I should have left your mom with you,” he said later that week.

“What are you talking about?!? You should be glad you left when you did! The airport closed down! The volcano could explode!!!” I said.

“Oh, you could just go up to Baguio,” my dad said casually, treating a 4-hour car ride with a disabled person during a possible calamitous natural disaster as if it were nothing.

“WE COULD BE TRAPPED IN THE PHILIPPINES!!!” I shouted, causing all the people in line at McDonalds to turn around and stare (yes, this conversation happened there. During lunch hour.)

So I’ve been maybe a little on edge. But by Thursday, Journie was playing outside again. Life seems to have gone back to normal, although even today, when I looked out the window I still wondered if it was haze from pollution or ashfall. And I still check the PHIVOLCS website every day.

When Taal erupted, we were safe. We still are, and for that I am very grateful to God. Other people have had it much, much worse. But it’s been a bit of an odd week.



4 thoughts on “When Taal erupted…

  1. Very glad you are safe and pray that you will remain so. We were fortunate that Taal never erupted when we lived close to it even if it made some uncomfortable noise at times.

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