By: Edith Batalla
Mayon Volcano is often referred to as the Beautiful Maiden. Bicolanos call her Daragang Magayon, hence, Mayon. Legend has it Mayon sprang from the graves of the maiden and her true love, Ulap. They died in a war against Ulap’s rival and where the lovers were buried side by side a mound appeared, which grew in size as years passed.
Having undergone a sea-change, Daragang Magayon and Ulap (Cloud) are now free to express their feelings. They kiss even if (or because!) we’re looking, that’s why sometimes Mayon’s tip is covered with clouds.
We Albayanos are used to Mayon’s occasional outbursts so we know what to do when her temper rises. When her tip becomes needle-point sharp, that means much magma has risen, ready to be released. But always, its release is preceded by intermittent earthquakes and sometimes explosions.
The air also becomes humid. Since Mayon emits smoke everyday, she doesn’t get bottled up, so she doesn’t self-destruct, unlike Mt. Pinatubo.
Legazpi City is rarely adversely affected by eruptions because it’s 15 kilometers away from the crater. Legazpeños do enjoy grand celestial shows for days on end: mushroom clouds of ash by day and tangerine fingers tracing Mayon’s conical form by night. Fatal? I’m still alive after experiencing several eruptions in my lifetime.
On July 26, 2001 at 8:00 a.m. as I was encoding a text message to a friend, Mayon exploded so I continued with “Mayon is erupting!” My friend’s reply was, “What’s happening to you? Mayon is erupting yet you’re still texting.” Indeed, I was texting. Mayon was erupting. Different strokes for different folks.
One day in September 2006 when Mayon erupted I was atop Lignon Hill (near Legazpi airport) together with a friend who took a non-stop video (for a full hour!) of the oozing lava.
Many people think that whenever Mayon erupts, all Albayanos scamper like scared cats. If camera eyes were more resourceful, they would focus not only on people evacuating from the slopes but also on awestruck viewers, some of whom are on rooftops and hilltops – munching chips- while cheering Mayon as if she were in a performance.
Of course, the volcano’s slopes up to 6-8 km radius, the gullies and the waterways where lava may flow are “no man’s land.”
If you have the time to be “creatively idle” while here, you will see how Mayon changes colors at certain times of the day and at different seasons. On overcast days she’s cotton-white grayish to ash-grey (or she’s not there at all, the magician David Copperfield probably wipes her out!); after a heavy rain when the sky clears up, she’s deep blue-green; when the sunlight becomes keener, she turns ochre in some spots, yellowish in others, dark green to blue in most parts, and charcoal-grey to black in the gullies where her emissions of sand, gravel, and boulders are deposited. At high noon in summer she’s gorgeous! All her sunlit colors become more vivid than usual.
Like any beautiful woman, Mayon maintains her exquisite form – come hell, fire or brimstone! (EDB, firstname.lastname@example.org)
This post was contributed by Edith Batalla from CamSur – one of our readers