La Maldita – the small but terrible wonder called Taal
ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2020 - 12:00am

I remember the days when my family, friends, and I, used to go jet skiing in our lake house in Talisay. It is one of the most memorable childhood experiences we’ve ever had, doing power turns and boiling eggs underwater in a lake we all knew was filled with so much history.

In those days we learned so many stories about the history of Taal that left us all intrigued and excited at the same time.

Taal Volcano is the smallest active volcano in the world. Its enigmatic shape and location on an island within a lake within an island, makes it a very distinctive geologic wonder, enchanting thousands of people, me included.

Taal Volcano is part of a chain of volcanoes along the island of Luzon which were formed by two tectonic plates that literally “crashed” into each other over 500,000 years ago. The Taal Lake is called the “caldera” and eruptions that followed thereafter created what is known as the Volcano Island within the lake.

Lake Taal is a freshwater lake and it is unsalted. Every time we got into the water, no matter how shallow, we made sure we had our life jackets on as the heavy water would drag us down plus the fact that we never knew, unlike the regular ocean, how deep our next step would take us.

The most violent eruption of the Taal Volcano during the Spanish era was recorded in 1749 and it was norm for Agustinian friars to record such as back then, they were tasked to create pueblos.

“Maldita” as they say in Spanish is a familiar term we would describe this small but terrible volcano, relatively quiet except when angry. With more than 30 eruptions recorded in history, the 1749 eruption ended the glory days of the Old Taal and five years later, in 1754, during Taal’s biggest eruption, the old town of Taal was completely destroyed including the original church of St. Martin de Tours.

When I look back into my childhood, I can’t help but recall the eery moments in an island within an island and how dark the water would be with all that grass underneath. Nevertheless, I had fond memories there and our weekends became a way for us to discover the Philippines.

As past records detail the horrific moments during its eruption, to date, we are witnessing once again how this small wonder impacts the lives especially of all those affected in the area.

Perhaps however, and as we have seen, and at the very least, we Filipinos are re-discovering once again the journey that was, in order for us to make better what lies ahead. Not only are we becoming more responsive as a nation but rather, more aware.

Maybe this is why history repeats itself ( so they say), as times like these demand that we put our best selves out there especially for all those who have been greatly affected. After all, and in my opinion, times like these remind us all about our humanity.

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