This composite photo shows the images of the Tourist Reception Center on Taal Volcano island 10 months ago and weeks after its eruption.
Facebook/Talisay Batangas tourism and Philstar.com/Rosette Adel
IN PHOTOS: Taal eruption turns lively tourist spot into quiet, deserted island
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - February 3, 2020 - 7:11pm

TAAL VOLCANO ISLAND, Philippines — From a lively tourist spot, the Tourist Reception Center located on Taal Volcano Island in San Isidro, Talisay, Batangas has become a quiet, deserted area blanketed by volcanic ash.

What used to be the lounging area and starting point for tourists who plan to visit the main crater, this reception center situated by the coastal area, is now all gray and muddy. This is how it looks at present. (Can't view the photos? Click here)

Tourists used to visit here to get a glimpse of the Taal Volcano. It is 30-35-minute travel by motorboat from Talisay.

Talisay tourism office said the area is designed to cater to tourists who love to indulge in adventures and nature tripping.

“It also caters them a place where they can find the history and other relevant information about Taal Volcano and its previous eruptions,” Talisay government said.

“This Reception Center aims to promote the significance of its historical value by which people should realize that we need to protect our environment and to utilize its resources properly,” it added.

Three days after the recent eruption, however, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the Taal Volcano Island off-limits due to a possible hazardous eruption.

Duterte declared it a “no man’s land” after the recommendation of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña.

The volcano island is part of the 14-kilometer danger zone declared by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology when it raised Alert Level 4.

The institute last week lowered the Alert Level to 3 but the volcano island is still covered by the high-risk zone.

'Tourism as livelihood no longer recommended'

Mark Timbal, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesperson said the volcano island should really be a “permanent danger zone” without residents or any settlement.

He said it became a settlement area after the Taal Volcano erupted in 1965 and several farmers decided to set up a livelihood on the island.

“The communities were built as a consequence of pagtahimik ng bulkan. At hindi na natin sila basta basta mai-alis pero ngayon po, dahil nandiyan na ito, naganap ‘yung pagputok ng bulkan na-affirm ‘yung kailangan talagang walang tao diyan at ito po ay inapprove na ng pangulo,” Timbal said on CNN Philippine’s “On the Record.”

(The communities were built as a consequence of the volcano’s silence. And we cannot remove them there, but now that the volcano erupted, the warning that no one should reside there was affirmed and it has been approved by the president.)

Timbal said that since tourism became the main livelihood of the residents in this area, the government would provide an alternative livelihood for them.

Around 3,000 to 5,000 Taal Volcano residents were displaced after the volcano erupted last January 12.

The NDRRMC official said tourism is no longer recommended in the area so residents would be given assistance for agricultural activities, among others.

“Ililipat na sila (They would be transferred) from tourism to something else,” Timbal said.

For its part, the Department of Tourism earlier advised all tourism enterprises operating in all areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption to cease operations in view of the Alert Level 4 warning hoisted over the volcano.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also said the agency is committed to helping the areas affected by the eruption to recover. The agency is coordinating with the National Economic Development Authority for the revival of Taal-hit tourist areas.

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