My Observations: Ash Monday

Here in the Philippines, Taal Volcano erupted on January 12 pushing a massive amount of volcanic ash high up into the air. A short time later, the ash spread around and reached parts of Metro Manila.

The next morning, I went out for my usual hike here in Muntinlupa City going to Filinvest City. Along the way while inside our village, the volcanic ash were around me – on the side of the roads, the sidewalks, on top the leaves of some trees and over the surfaces of vehicles parked nearby. There was also collected ash that got wet as it rained the previous night.

Then I visited the local village park and saw the following…

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At the park.
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Volcanic ash still somewhat wet on this slide.
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Look at all that wet ash.

I hiked on to Filinvest City. As light from the sun was bright enough, the ash on the road and the sidewalk became clearer. There were also prints of shoes, slippers and tire tracks spotted. I took the opportunity to photograph them.

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Lots of ash on the surface of the road in Filinvest City, Alabang.
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The view outside Commercenter.
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This guy was the first Filinvest City cleaner (he wore a Filinvest City uniform) I saw along Commerce Avenue.

I went further to Festival Mall. Unsurprisingly their roads and parking lots had lots of ash around. As I walked on, I wondered how many people with equipment they will deploy to clean up their parking spaces.

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At one of the parking lots of Festival Mall.

So I saw a lot about the volcanic ash in Alabang that morning. Certain things I saw during my morning hike reminded me a bit of what I saw back in 1991 regarding the volcanic ash Mount Pinatubo released. Metro Manila was not spared back then.

 Still nothing prepared me for the volcanic ash that I saw as I drove from Alabang to our office in Laguna via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). As many vehicles moved both ways along the highway, there as a lot of Taal Volcano’s ash the view became less visible on certain stretches.

Then I took a short stopover at one of the gas stations along the SLEX. Here is what I saw.

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So much volcanic ash on the open space.
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A maintenance worker struggles to collect the volcanic ash.

The gas station was dirty with the volcanic ash. Many cars that were there were also dirty and people, including the maintenance workers, were seen wearing face masks. I witnessed one maintenance worker near me doing clean-up work by moving the volcanic ash into a pile and then collecting them and storing them into a black garbage bag.

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More of the ash collected at the place.

Seeing him work like that made me pray that he and all other personnel assigned to do cleaning will get compensated well by their respective employers. There is so much Taal Volcano ash around, it will take quite some time and effort before achieving cleanliness.

I also pray that the victims – those who live in close proximity to Taal Volcano – will receive sufficient assistance from the local authorities as well as private donors or groups doing charity work. This is because those victims’ lives got disrupted and many of them had to leave their homes temporarily.

One credible organization to donate to is Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines which announced already its campaign to help Taal Volcano victims. Visit their website right here. Another worthy organization accepting donations is New Life Community Care.

The victims of the natural disaster need our help and prayers. Remember that.

So that’s it. January 13, 2020 will be remembered as one of the most unusual Mondays I had in many years. Given the tremendous amount of volcanic ash spotted EVERYWHERE I went that day, it is fitting for me to call the day as Ash Monday.


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Muntinlupa City Government donates P2 million to quake-stricken Itbayat, Batanes for rehabilitation

The City Government of Muntinlupa announced today that it has donated P2,000,000 to  the Batanes Provincial Government for Itbayat’s rehabilitation after being struck by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake this past July. The donation was done through the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO).

City Councilor members Marissa Rongavilla, Alexson Diaz, Katy Boncayao, and DRRMO chief Erwin Alfonso represented Mayor Jaime Fresnedi in the official turn-over ceremony of the  financial assistance to Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco on August 17.

The City Government claims that the financial aid to the Municipality of Itbayat, Batanes will be used to implement development projects in the town and construction of a housing project for the 268 affected families. Governor Cayco extended her utmost thanks to the City Government of Muntinlupa and Mayor Fresnedi for the assistance.

It is recalled that on July 27, a series of strong earthquakes jolted Itbayat town which caused damage to structures and leaving eight (8) people dead and dozens injured.

According to bulletins from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the town was hit by magnitudes 5.4, 5.9, 5.8 within hours of each other and several aftershocks. No tsunami alerts were issued.

Mayor Jaime Fresnedi said that this initiative is the city’s share in helping our kababayans who are in need.

“In the spirit of bayanihan, the local government of Muntinlupa will continue to lend its hand to towns in the country needing assistance,” Fresnedi added.

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National Disaster Resilience Month (NDRM) Observed in Las Piñas City

On the morning of July 8, the City Government of Las Piñas led by Mayor Imelda “Mel” Aguilar formally observed National Disaster Resilience Month (NDRM) with a special activity that emphasized how essential disaster preparedness is. The intention was to make the constituents aware of disaster preparedness and, at the same time, encourage them to participate in related activities organized by their respective barangays which number a total of twenty in the city.

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From Left to Right: Las Piñas City Vice Mayor April Aguilar-Nery, Mayor Imelda Aguilar and City Police Chief Simnar S. Gran observe an activity on July 8 as the City Government observed National Disaster Resilience Month. (image sourced from Las Piñas DRRMO/Shawnette Ramos) 

Held at the Verdana covered court in Barangay Pamplona Tres was an exhibition of emergency equipment, kits and uniformed personnel who were present to answer inquiries. Some personnel demonstrated procedures on how to provide first aid. The exhibition served as the kick-off activity of the citywide observation of disaster preparedness.

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A display of disaster-related equipment at the exhibition of the NDRM held at the Verdana Covered Court in Barangay Pamplona, Tres. (image sourced from Las Piñas DRRMO/Shawnette Ramos) 

Over at City Hall, City Government officials led by Mayor Aguilar, her daughter Vice Mayor April Aguilar-Nery expressed their full support to the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (Las Piñas DRRMO).

The said department is sponsoring the inaugural Inter-School On-The-Spot Poster-Making Competition as well as the 2nd Inter-Barangay First Aid Competition. Both competitions are designed to make Las Piñas residents aware of disaster preparedness and interested parties are welcome to call landline 552-7694 for inquiries about the activities.

In accordance to Executive Order Number 29 (2017), the month of July was declared as National Disaster Resilience Month which calls for observation nationwide for the entire month. It is practiced annually each July and it involves various sectors to do their part. The theme for National Disaster Resilience Month this year is “Kahandaan sa Sakuna’t Peligro Para sa Tunay na Pagbabago.”

For more information about the City of Las Piñas, click here.