In January 2020, Taal Volcano in Batangas erupted violently, spewing ashes across not just the provinces of Batangas and Cavite, but even Metro Manila and even some parts of Central Luzon and the Ilocos Region, resulting in forced evacuations, the shutdown of local businesses, and the suspension of classes, work, and flights in the area.
Mother Nature can be a scary opponent to mankind, as mankind has not yet fully discovered the way to predict when she will turn against humanity. Therefore, when she decides to release her wrath among us humans, we can only run to safety while the natural disasters she spat out on the surface ravages throughout uncontrollably. Only until the storm calms down can then the people resume their daily lives without the risk of danger along with it.
Now that the Taal Volcano has calmed down, how do the affected residents living near it have coped with it? Have they moved on with their daily lives, and think of it as nothing more of an uncontrollable natural disaster that happens a few decades or centuries? We will find that out in this article today, but first, we shall look into some facts about the said eruption.
The Taal Volcano Eruption – How Bad Was It?
January 12, 2020 — the day that will change the lives of the people living near Taal Volcano, which is located in the Taal Lake, wherein it currently resides in the province of Batangas. The mostly silent volcano suddenly erupted this day, forcing more than 376,000 residents to leave their homes during that time, and the following days after the initial eruption.
The said natural disaster lasted for two weeks, and during that time, has spewed huge amounts of rocks, steam, and ashes in the air in which most of it has reached Metro Manila a few days after the initial eruption began. This caused a major inconvenience, not just to the people who are living near the said volcano, but to the other residents living in nearby cities and provinces as well. It has even greatly affected Metro Manila, to the point wherein the flights of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have been temporarily suspended by that time due to volcanic ash in the air that covered the capital.
Thankfully, no one has died during the said eruption. But, it has severely affected the lives of many, and most of their corresponding business has been also affected by the said disaster, an of those severely affected business areas is of Tagaytay’s tourist spots and the accompanying local business.
Tagaytay After – How Is It Now? Is There Something To Worry About?
In the aftermath of the disaster two weeks after it, businesses near the volcano are starting to get back to their previous lives before the eruption happened, and most of those business owners are optimistic in making a comeback in their location, although they are still facing several challenges in that regard, such as low sales.
One such owner of a coffee-selling business has stated in an interview that during the time that Alert Level 4 was still in effect in the perimeter of Taal, their daily earnings was only around P 2,000 — which is 1/10th of the usual earnings that they profit from normal days when tourists are abundant in the tourist spot the store was placed on.
Aside from that concern with the profits of most business owners after the volcano’s eruption, in the same interview, it has been also noted that the production of their Barako coffee has been affected due to the eruption, wherein it is usually sorted out from Lipa, Batangas. As per the Department of Agriculture (DOA), the total cost of damage to the coffee production (the hectares of land where the coffee plants are grown) is around P 360.5 million, which is a huge blow to this industry that the region is known for.
Unfortunately, most people say that there wouldn’t be a good harvest this year, especially in the locations of Cavite and Batangas, and expect that it would be the same in 2021. This is according to the industry group named Philippine Coffee Brand Inc., in which they have also estimated that the losses for that industry will reach around P 600 million, which can reach to P 1 billion.
Even though the Alert Level of the local government against the active volcano has lowered, the sudden threat of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has added to the pile of problems on the tourism side of the province of Tagaytay as a whole. Due to the deadly nature of the said pandemic, the less contact, the better. This means that places like tourist hotspots like the SkyRanch have been temporarily closed to the public, as per mandatory guidelines by the government and the Department of Health (DOH).
Therefore, until a vaccine has been developed for the said pandemic, tourism in Tagaytay would be sadly low in the said area, until it is deemed safe to go back to normal lives we had before the start of the pandemic.
Taal Volcano – Will It Again Soon Erupt?
Currently, the Alert Level for Taal Volcano by Philippines’ Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has already lowered it to the safest level, Alter Level 1. This is a piece of good news since a major disaster has been avoided for the time being.
However, they have strictly noted that anytime the volcano can still erupt, even though the said level has been lowered to the current state, due to it still being active and has temporarily stopped. There are other forms of risks that can severely affect residents and wildlife near the vicinity of the volcano, according to their report. Those said risks are the following:
- Explosions due to steam
- Volcanic earthquakes
Therefore, entrance to Taal Volcano’s location has been strictly prohibited, as per their advice, to ensure everyone’s safety, and has coordinated with the Local Government Unit (LGU) covering Taal Volcano’s location. Strict protocols and countermeasures are being observed to ensure that if the said volcano erupts again, the LGU and its personnel will be ready in a short notice.
Are There Advantages of Living Near a Volcano?
It might sound dangerous living near a volcano (since it can erupt anytime), but there are some known benefits for those doing so. Below are some of those said benefits:
- Source of Geothermal Energy – since a volcano produces a lot of heat on the ground that it is sitting on, humans can harness that heat and convert it into natural energy called geothermal energy for use.
- Sea and its Sea Life – this surrounding body of water is usually full of abundant sea life within its depths.
- Surrounding Soil is Fertile – it may be harmful to us humans and the animals living near a volcano, but the volcanic ash that it spews out can help fertilize the soil that it lands on.
- Boosts Tourism – as with the case with Taal Volcano, a local neighborhood living near a volcano can utilize this form of landmass as a tourist spot, providing a source of funds for the said neighborhood, and a source of income for the people living there.
- Provides a Natural Quarry – most volcanic eruptions spew out a lot of stone deposits, in which it can be converted for mining in a quarry.
Sure, there are also disadvantages that come when living near a volcano, but most of those are outweighed by the mentioned advantages above. Additionally, as long as the people and the local government put their safety first, living near a volcano is not a bad thing at all.
The Effects Of The Taal Eruption on Tagaytay Business
Since the eruption of Taal Volcano, many forms of business have been severely affected, and this included the real estate business. Since the volcano is still active, most are not keen on investing their money in this kind of business, since there is a constant risk of property damage to it once the volcano has erupted again.
Also, the demand for people looking for a real estate business within the area has significantly been reduced, especially in Tagaytay and nearby municipalities. Additionally, the prices for real estate in the affected areas might have their prices dropped considerably, being in a risk-zone area. Furthermore, many see the possibility of the interest rates in the area increase due to the situation they are facing right now.
A Final Word
As we have seen from the article above, Tagaytay’s recovery was starting to slowly stand up again after the Taal Volcano eruption, but the sudden emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has yet again slowed their recovery. Still, the people living in Tagaytay are optimistic in recovering from two disasters that have struck many during 2020.
However, the people of the local government are still on the lookout for any signs indicating that the volcano may erupt again, and strict protocols and countermeasures are being observed to ensure the safety of the citizens living near the active volcano, Tagaytay included. They are hoping that the volcano would just sleep again in peace so that the lives of many people around it would continue harmlessly and risk-free, as much as possible, since the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is still going on.