The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) participated in the relief effort “Galing sa Puso”, for the benefit of Taal volcano eruption victims. Led by the Geological Society of the Philippines (GSP) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the group visited evacuation areas in Brgy. Minalin, Ibaan and Poblacion, Laurel, Batangas last 13 February 2020.
The evacuation center in Minalin, Ibaan hosted the evacuees from the Volcano Island, Municipality of San Nicolas. Meanwhile, recipients of the aid from Laurel, Batangas were those who are staying in evacuation centers or temporarily living with relatives outside the 7 km danger zone.
Aside from giving relief goods, an Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign also was conducted in the evacuation sites. Mr. Ericson Bariso, a Science Research Specialist I of PHIVOLCS, delivered a lecture about volcanic hazards, as well as updates on the status of Taal volcano. During the lecture in Ibaan, Batangas, the children recalled that faithful day of 12 January 2020 when Taal Volcano erupted after 43 years of quiescence. A child named ‘Toto’ said he was just playing with his friends in that Sunday morning when suddenly their parents rushed to get them out of the island immediately. While on the boat, he saw a large column of smoke coming out the crater. “We were frightened, it was my first time to see Taal in that state”, Toto said.
Mr. Bariso noted all the eyewitness account of island residents who experienced the precursors of the eruption. He said these accounts will help them in studying Taal’s behavior and predicting future eruptions as well. He mentioned that Taal’s volcanic unrest is already declining, as it exhibits weaker steaming and lesser number of earthquakes. Incidentally the following day, PHIVOLCS lowered Taal’s alert level from 3 to 2.
More than 160 families from the volcano island benefitted from the relief drive in the evacuation center in Ibaan, Batangas. GSP, PHIVOLCS and SESAM handed over school supplies to the children who attended the IEC, while parents were given vegetables, bags and storage boxes.
Meanwhile, in Laurel, Batangas, Former Vice Mayor Filimon Austria and Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) Chairperson Sylvia Austria were very thankful to GSP, PHVOLCS and SESAM for selecting their town as recipient of the ‘Galing sa Puso’ relief drive. Rice and grocery items were given to more than 300 families. Twenty shovels and 15 vegetable packs were also turned over to the ABC of Laurel, Batangas.
Senior high school students of Laurel, Batangas participated in the IEC campaign. “Let us listen to the experts’ advice regarding Taal volcano’s eruption and you should also tell your parents about this additional information”, said former Vice Mayor Austria.
Led by Dr. Carla B. Dimalanta, GSP President and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs (Research), University of the Philippines System, the group coordinated with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office of Batangas and the ABC of Laurel to identify the needs of the evacuees. Volunteers from SESAM, PHIVOLCS and the National Institute of Geological Sciences joined the relief effort.