Mayon – The curse of Legazpi

Magayon Night view

 

There is something affecting the city of Legazpi making it’s citizens lose their minds.

My first visit to to the city was over a year ago now it was one of the first destinations i visited. After arriving in Manila in March 2016 I headed south on a non-air con, all stops bus to Naga and after about a week there i headed on to the the capital city of Albay province.

As soon as I stepped of the bus I became aware of a looming presence on the horizon. They call it the most perfect volcano in the world. But Magayon while an iconic and beloved symbol of the region, has also been a cruel and dangerous neighbor. It is the most active volcano in the Philippines and has claimed thousands of lives and caused untold damage.

It’s effects on me are far more subtle as the scars on my body has healed but the mark it left on my psyche remains.

Magayon Night view
The evil mountain looms above the city at night.

The hike

It was just a one day hike up the volcanoes slopes. Me and a few other brave souls set out one early march morning hoping to experience a hike through the jungle ending with a spectacular view over the province from halfway up the volcano.

However the trip quickly turned nightmarish as the rain began pouring down. Me not being the most experienced of mountain climbers quickly began struggling to keep up with the rest of the expedition. I was forced to use my hands to help pull me up grabbing on to branches, rocks and various vegetation. Quickly I learned that most of the vegetation growing on the slopes have evolved to deter amateur hikers. Soon my hands and arms were covered in cuts and scratches from the evil vegetation’s various spikes and thorns.

After hours of exhausting climbing it all turned out to be for nothing as our guides declared that the heavy rainfall had made a stream in our path unsafe to cross and we had to stop before reaching our intended destination. The reward for our struggles was thus a quick meal of cold rice and adobo as me and my companions huddled among slippery rocks.

As we half walked, half rolled down again we took inventory of our meager belongings and noticed the damages. Shoes wrecked, a drowned cellphone, ink running down a soaked passport. Those were just a few of the horrors bestowed upon us by cruel Mayon.

Ever since I’ve been living in fear of the Volcano.

The return

After drifting around the Philippines for more than a year. I once again find myself back in Legazpi spending a couple of months here before heading northwards. Once again I find myself back underneath the shadow of the Volcano.

This time I’ve been sticking around for a while longer and so I have had a chance to experience firsthand the effects the curse of Mayon has on the citizens of Legazpi since last time I visited.

  • The Sili(chili) ice cream has grown in intensity. Previously it was graded in heat from 1-3, now a fourth tier has been introduced named “volcano”. Coincidence? I think not…
  • All over the archipelago the squat is a very popular position for idle Filipinos. In legazpi I have witnessed it being performed in the nude.
  • The BBQ stalls in the city rarely sells rice. Truly this is a sign that something is horribly wrong.

 

Meanwhile the curse has me climbing up on the roof to to record my first videos in front of the camera. So instead of just pointing my camera at random parades or waterfalls I happen to encounter along my travels I have decided to record my experiences in a more personal manner.

And I blame it all on the Volcano.

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