Darkness and Crisis are the two words that can perfectly describe the Mount Pinatubo eruption on June 15, 1991. I was turning eight years old back then and the details were quite fuzzy. Still, I can write several stories during that time (if I find the time to jot it down).
I remember the darkness surrounding us. Then, the ashes came falling like snow which I just see in movies. At first, I was delighted to watch it. After a few hours, it became very dark. Then, the falling ash was accompanied by small stones and then big stones. I could hear the thud of every falling stone on our rooftop.
Then, it became scarier when red lightning and loud thunder started. The earthquake was happening every 30 seconds. All of us gathered in my grandpa’s small house. My cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents were all sitting in the small living room. Praying that we survive that night.
And we survived… but the real crisis happened after the eruption. For a decade, we feared that our precious abode would be covered by lahar. I saw how from three to ten feet of lahar would cover a whole town. The once lively towns of party-going and cheery Kapampangans were buried. I felt standing in a graveyard with roofs as grave markings. I remembered the sirens when the river would soon overflow with lahar so we need to prepare for evacuation.
I remembered the sirens when the river would soon overflow with lahar so we need to prepare to go to higher areas. The first siren was for preparation, the second one was time to evacuate and the third and last meant lahar was coming to us. Maybe it’s fate or faith to the Almighty, but my little unknown town was saved. Only a small part of our place was damaged by lahar.
Another crisis was the livelihood of people. Farmlands became useless and the structures such as roads and bridges were either buried by lahar or gone for good. Thousands of families lost their homes, their lands, loved ones and their precious properties. There were deaths and some bodies were never found.
After 25 years, we all have to look back. It was a tragedy for a lot of people but the fight to survive did not stop. All towns and provinces damaged by the lahar from Mt. Pinatubo are now back on their feet. Businesses are flourishing. Families have better lives. (see: Pampanga prospers 25 years after Pinatubo eruption)