Filipino government has since downgraded as Taal simmers down.
Arthel Peralta, a resident of Parañaque city, vividly recalls her initial reaction to the news of the eruption.
“Everything happened so fast,” said Peralta from her home during an interview Jan. 20. “I remember waking up to a level-two warning for the volcano, and then an hour later it was level three, and then another hour later it was level four.”
News of the eruption came as quite a shock to residents, says Peralta. She never thought Taal would erupt in her lifetime.
“As a kid we’d learn about it because it’s one of the tourist attractions nearby,” she said. “So we’d learn about it, but like, we never really discussed about it exploding.”
Peralta says although there was ash falling outside of her home, Parañaque was not one of the evacuated areas. But she says she does have friends who live in the evacuated areas, and she is worried about them.
“I have a friend from Batangas, it’s one area that’s affected by the volcano, and I haven’t contacted her,” said Peralta. “I don’t know how she is because she’s probably in an evacuation centre.”
Peralta says her biggest fear is for her friend’s health. The ash can be very harmful to the lungs if inhaled.
It has been over two weeks since the eruption and initial evacuation of the immediate area surrounding the volcano. The alert level has since been decreased from a four to a three. The evacuation area has been decreased by 50 per cent.
Ritche Perez lives in Portugal Cove-St. Philips. He visited the Philippines just a month and a half before the eruption.
“I was at that very spot,” Perez said.
He had eaten at a restaurant owned by his friends which is within 20 kilometers of the eruption site, he says, but it is now caked in clay and mud.
Perez says the aftermath has killed off a high number of fish in the immediate area, according to his friends. However, the ash is good for the farmlands.
Even though there was destruction and damage, Perez says he can still see the evacuees returning to rebuild.
“It’s such an impact on how it is for me now, even though I’m on the opposite side (of the world).”