Mayon Volcano at Dusk

is a beauty
but her untamed fury
is a legend in the land of
– Chito L. Aguilar

Mayon Volcano, Legazpi City, Philippines

Mayon Volcano is reputed to be the world’s most beautiful volcano due to its almost perfect cone. Rising 2,462 meters, it is the Philippines’ most active volcano. Its periodic eruptions are violent, causing massive devastation in Albay province, Bicol Region, Philippines.

Mayon Volcano erupted over 48 times in the past 400 years.

The most destructive eruption of Mayon occurred on February 1, 1814. Lava flowed and the volcano belched dark ash which eventually buried the town of Cagsawa.

During the 1814 eruption, proximate areas were also devastated with ash accumulating to 9 m (30 ft) in depth. 2,200 Albay locals perished in what is considered to be the most lethal eruption in Mayon’s history.

Mayon Volcano’s longest uninterrupted eruption occurred on June 23, 1897 which lasted for seven days of raining fire. Lava once again flowed down to civilization. Seven miles eastward, the village of Bacacay was buried 15 m (49 ft) beneath the lava.

No casualties were recorded from the 1984 eruption after more than 73,000 people were evacuated from the danger zones as recommended by government scientists. But in 1993, pyroclastic flows killed 77 people, mainly farmers, during the eruption.
Its 48th eruption was a quiet effusion of lava on July 14, 2006, which was aggravated when lahar caused by the rains of Typhoon Reming triggered deadly flooding on November 30, 2006. The small activities from 2003 and 2004 are considered as precursors to the 2006 eruption. The small summit explosion which occurred on August 10, 2008 is considered as part of the ongoing activity since 2006.

Following the eruption of November 30, 2006, strong rainfall which accompanied Typhoon Reming produced lahars from the volcanic ash and boulders of the last eruption killing at least 1,266 people. The precise figure may never be known since many people were buried under the mudslides. A large portion of the village of Padang (an outer suburb of Legazpi City) was covered in mud up to the houses’ roofs. Starting in January 2011, the volcano is weakly erupting and may be building up to a larger hazardous eruption.

Captions excerpted from:

Pity the planet, all joy gone
from this sweet volcanic cone.”
– Robert Lowell (1917 – 1977), U.S. poet


Mt. Mayon Eruption

by: Chito L. Aguilar

(We are like this volcano, for a time dormant, adamant suddenly;
sometimes latent, quiescent and quiet, then obstinate suddenly.)

her lip
smells of sulfur,
hot as the sambalas*
and at night, its red lipstick glows
in rage.

roars from under,
the lands quiver, shudder;
frightened boars and deer scamper down
her slopes.

from her belly
billow a mushroom cloud
then drape restless towns in blanket
of grey.

flows down her breast,
molten, like tears gushing,
carving gullies, gulping pine trees

and rocks flush to
rivers, flooding lowlands;
villagers flee from the torrents
of mud.

the folks
flock to shelters;
crowding schools and centers
like beehives where they await aid
and food.

is a beauty
but her wrathful fury
is a legend in the land of

– between
fury and beauty
is prodigy.

– between
seismic and geothermic
is volcanic.

(c) 2006 Chito L. Aguilar

* very hot chili, indigenous pepper from Bicol Region, Philippines


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