December 18, 2014
Mayon, Beautiful Woman
After years of admiring its perfect symmetry in textbooks, postcards, and travel posters, I went to visit her at last. You see, musicians never stop traveling. Even in the confines of houses, halls, and in the smallest rooms, we are able to transport ourselves through music – to destinations near, far, real, or imagined. “Mayon: Fantasia de Concierto,” a showpiece for piano by Filipino composer, Francisco Buencamino, Sr. has brought me there again and again. But this time it was different. The paths that I have visited with my fingers, I have finally scaled with my own eyes.
On days when a cloud touches the tip of the volcano, locals say that it is Panganoron kissing Daragang Magayon (Mayon). But it was raining in Legazpi when the plane landed and it continued to rain even on my second day, and Mayon was completely hidden from view. If not for the thought that the star-crossed lovers were engaged in something more than a kiss, and the consolation derived from the Bicolano delicacies, I would have been altogether disappointed. Fortunately, Panganoron gradually released her and she appeared resplendent, as any woman would after an ardent embrace.
As soon as the clouds dissipate, she captures the attention of her entire domain. Mount Mayon in the Bicol region has such an imposing presence in the province of Albay that it is easy to overlook everything else under her shadow. The tranquil landscape seems to bow down humbly to her majesty, but it is important to notice that it is no less lovely.
When Mayon disgorged lava in September this year, thousands of residents were evacuated. PHIVOLCS issued a warning of an impending eruption and it was what gave me the strange urgency to arrange a trip to Albay as soon as possible. Recent natural disasters and the thought of how Java’s Mount Merapi split in half during its eruption in 2010 entered my mind. As the earth continues in a perpetual state of transformation, we cannot be certain that our natural landmarks and wonders will remain as they are forever; They could change or disappear in a matter of years, months, or days.
Cataclysmic. Passionate. Unpredictable. Dangerous. Exotic. Mysterious. Beautiful. “Tear ducts of the earth,” according to Kepler. These are words that convey images of Woman, but these are also adjectives for volcanoes. Is it any wonder our country’s most active and most alluring volcano is named after a woman?