Last September, I was lucky enough to get a chance to visit Taal Volcano. I was trying to get a new part time job as a local tourist guide for foreign travelers and apparently, this was my first solo tour. Anyway, this was also my first time to visit the famous volcano. I used to see a portion of it every time we head to Tagaytay and Batangas but I have never been to the actual island. What’s happening to Taal right now is really depressing especially on how it affects all the nearby towns. I wonder how long will it take for Taal to recover and when will it ever go back to its former glory.
Although most of our text books showcased this part of Taal, this portion is actually not the main crater at all. Taal has 47 craters and this so-called Binintiang Malaki (Big Leg) is just one of them. Taal is a complex volcano and it doesn’t just have one but multiple eruption points. They said that Taal has erupted in Binintiang Malaki Crater at least twice through out its history. There have been 33 recorded eruptions at Taal since 1572 (that excludes all those prehistoric eruptions).
The only way to reach the Taal Volcano is through a boat ride. It was a 30-45 minute boat ride and the weather was quite tough when we get there. We were warmly welcomed by their locals and we were asked to visit their reception center to pay for some environmental fees. Visitors have two ways to reach the crater, you can either hike the trail or ride a horse.
Taal is truly a geological wonder. Taal has an island within a lake, that was on an island within a lake, that was on an island within the sea: Vulcan Point Island was within Main Crater Lake, which is on Volcano Island. Sounds complicated right? Unfortunately, after the 2020 eruption the Main Crater Lake was almost completely dried up due to volcanic activity.
Our guests decided to take a horse ride and I decided to go on a hike. Travelers were encouraged to have a tour guide who will accompany you til you have reached the main crater. Tour guiding is seemingly one of their major means of livelihood in the area. Each horse ride was actually worth Php500. I’m so glad the locals and rescuers did not leave their horses behind after the eruption. According to news, the rescuers went back to the island to rescue all the abandoned horses, pets and livestock.
It was an easy trail especially if you are riding the horses. It will take more or less an hour to reach the top. There are separate trails for hikers and another trail for horses.
The Binintiang Malaki as viewed from the Taal Volcano island.
It was also interesting to note that the Taal Volcano was in Alert Level 1 when we get there. There’s a PhilVocs center near the area that informs locals in a regular basis. We were also informed that the volcano is still open for tourists and travelers even in Alert Level 1. Although, you can evidently see fumes steaming out of the soil and you can smell strong sulfur from them.
The trail was once covered in greens.
Fumes steaming out from soil
The Taal Volcano island before the erruption
After more than an hour of hiking, you’ll reach the main crater. The weather was not really cooperating with us during our visit so it’s quite cloudy and foggy.
That small rock formation in the center of lake is the Vulcan Point.
Taal Volcano’s greatest recorded eruption occurred in 1754 and lasted from May 15 to December 1. The eruption caused the relocation of the towns of Tanauan, Taal, Lipa and Sala. One of the more devastating eruptions of Taal occurred in January 1911.The eruption claimed a reported 1,100 lives and injured 199, although it is known that more perished than the official records show.The last major eruption took place in 1977.
The Main crater. Once covered with greens.
This is a natural calamity and everything is beyond our control. All we can do is to help the victims and pray for their safety especially now that the Taal Volcano is still showing signs of unrest.
Over 24,000 people living near the volcano have already evacuated their homes and there are many ways to help them. Many organizations, LGUs and NGOs are still looking for volunteers to help them gather and distribute relief goods. You can also also visit those evacuation areas and donate cash and goods. They need water, food, and clothes.
Feel free to check this list of organizations compiled by Philippine Tatler and see how you can help. (Check the link here)
I wonder how long will it take for the Taal Volcano to recover from this disaster but let us all pray for everyone’s safety because that’s what matters most.