Taal Volcano erupts! Prepare facemasks

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - January 14, 2020 - 12:00am

I was making this column last Sunday when the unexpected news came that the Taal Volcano erupted last Sunday afternoon and its plume rose thousands of feet into the sky. I checked when the last eruption of this volcano was and it was in the year 1754. However, there were smaller eruptions, the latest of which was way back in 1977. The last time I was in Taal area was during a retreat which the Opus Dei held in its Taal Retreat house.

Apparently, this new eruption was bigger than the last Taal eruption because its ash fall reached the entire Metro Manila, and I just learned from dzMM TV that all schools in all levels in Metro Manila have been cancelled. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has been shut down, stranding many people who just arrived from Boracay. One of them is my good friend Bobby Joseph who couldn’t go home at this time.

We all know that the Taal Volcano area, especially Tagaytay City, has become one of the best real estate opportunities especially for the people in Metro Manila. At this point we don’t know if this eruption will slow down, or worse, become an even bigger explosion. There are millions of people living in Metro Manila, many of them have been asked to wear face masks, which I’m sure has run out of stock.

At this point call Cebu lucky that the ash fall of Taal Volcano has not reached us in Cebu because the winds are moving towards the north this is why Metro Manila has been affected. When Mt. Pinatubo erupted on June 12, 1991, its ash fall reached my house and I noticed that my car was covered in ashes. So in the meantime, it is better to get facemasks ready before the stocks run out. We will keep you posted on developments of Taal Volcano.

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Finally, at the start of the New Year 2020, we are truly getting some good news from Cebu City when city market administrator Jonil Matuguina recommended the closure of the Cebu City Night Bazaar owing to several complaints and violations. I’ve already written last December that the businesses at the area of the night market downtown have complained that they found it hard to bring their stocks into and out of their stores, which reportedly dissatisfied their customers. So at least our complaints have reached Mayor Edgardo Labella to stop the night market.

Again, let me reiterate that it is high time to stop the closure of Colon Street, a major thoroughfare, just so they could put a night market in place and disrupt not only the major jeepney routes, but also including the majority of business that pay taxes to Cebu City. At this point, it is of great importance that a group should study the night markets in Asia. I only know that in Hong Kong, they close the streets of Mongkok for their night market and they have been doing this for decades. More importantly, they don’t compete with the main businesses in Mongkok, but rather they complement each other.

What Cebu City should do is establish a permanent night market site and develop it as a tourist spot. A good site to develop is the Seniors’ Park parking slot just across City Hall. Of course, the site must be paved or asphalted and the merchandising must be carefully selected. There should also be an area where people can also eat, just like in the Namba Mall in Osaka City where people can walk in leisure shops or eat in their food stalls. However, this night market location must be properly designed to give comfort to the tourists and eventually, it would become one of Cebu City’s tourist destinations.

Meanwhile, one of the problems of the night market in Colon Street was mentioned by Matuguina who said that some night market vendors could not maintain the cleanliness of their areas, violate the no-smoking policy, and still allegedly sell their spots. Apparently, it was reported that some vendors sold their spot at the night market for P5,000 up to P20,000. If this is true then those people should not have anything to do with the night market. So here’s hoping that Cebu City will shut down the night market very soon.

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