WATCH: Taal survivors look back on 1965 and 2020 eruptions
Rosette Adel ( - February 1, 2020 - 1:38pm

TAGAYTAY CITY — It has been more than 50 years since the fatal September 1965 Taal Volcano eruptions but it is still fresh in the minds of survivors who witnessed it.

54 years later, they witnessed another eruption, this time, with their grandchildren.

Centenarian residents of Taal, Batangas, Matilde “Tindeng” and Albina “Nanay Binay” Salazar Geli, both 107-year-old resident said the previous powerful eruption in 1965 and the January 12 eruption are incomparable.

Their children Nelia Alcantara and Rosalinda Geli, who also witnessed the 1965 eruption, likewise said the two eruptions were different as the former struck Batangas like a thief in the night—without warning and during wee hours when the residents are asleep.

Nelia, however, said unlike the recent eruption, life moved on fast during the 1965 eruption. The residents recovered faster in 1965 but it left several dead.

“Nag-evacuate din kami noon sandali— sa Lipa. Sandali lang kami, hindi nagtagal katulad ngayon. Mas matagal ngayon, umabot kaming dalawang linggo sa evacuation,” Nelia said in an interview with

(We also evacuated before—in Lipa. We only evacuated for a while unlike today. This is longer, we stayed in evacuation center for two weeks.)

On the other hand, Rosalinda said that for her, the recent eruption is worse.

“Malala ngayon…Hindi namin akalaing kami’y magiging evacuees din,” she said.

(It’s worse now… We never thought we’d become evacuees)

Residents Pedro Villavicencio and Aeta chieftain Zosimo Magtibay also said the two eruptions were different.

Villavicencio recalled that he was only 12 years old when he first experienced Taal Volcano's wrath and he said it was worse than the latest eruption.

“Mas malala noon, kasi noon walang abiso. Maraming namatay na tao,” he said.

Based on the records of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the 1965 eruption claimed 200 lives.

Villavicencio and Magtibay said the recent eruption was different because there were ashfalls and earthquakes.

For these, the survivors stressed the importance of following advisories, citing that it has been more orderly now than the previous eruption.

Despite having experienced two devastating eruptions, Villavicencio still feels blessed by the guidance given by St. Martin of Tours. Taal Basilica, dubbed the largest Catholic church in Asia, is canonically known as the Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours.

On Monday morning, just hours after coming home from two weeks of stay at the evacuation center in San Pascual, Villavicencio visited the Taal Basilica to pray and thank the beloved patron.

“Buti na lang kamo sa hiwaga ng aming mahal na Santo San Martin talaga siya’y milagroso. Mahal niya ang bayan na ito. Kinagisnan ko na na talagang siya’y bantay at patron ng bayan ito,” he told

(We're grateful for the miracle of our beloved St. Martin. He loves our community. I grew up believing that he's our guide and patron saint).

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