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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

News article: Zambales after Pinatubo

19 years after Pinatubo’s ‘big bang,’ a lot of changes for these folks
By: Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Norther Luzon Bureau

WITH SIX GOATS IN TOW, Miranda King stands on the edge of a cliff, surveying the grass and shrubs below before the sun sets over Inararo, the closest village to Mount Pinatubo on the side of Porac, Pampanga.

King, 80, makes a slow descent, wanting to feed his goats with plants wet by the morning dew. To his far right, layers of charcoal-colored rocks cover the slopes in this part of the volcano that erupted in June 1991 and changed Central Luzon’s landscape.

The sand, ash and pumice stones that the eruptions spewed out are gone, washed down by rains. No one in his Aeta tribe ventures here, though, because the rocks chip off from the weight of climbers.

Far down, to King’s left, the river in San Marcelino, Zambales, looks every bit like a winding highway leading straight to the South China Sea. Houses dot what is now a green sweep.

In Inararo, two waterfalls gurgle off water, feeding streams in the village. But irrigation is not enough because farms covered by volcanic debris need lots of water.

And so members of King’s clan planted banana one would think a plantation is out here. They were so desperate to earn that they cultivated the plant even on steep rises.

Villa Maria resettlement, a half-day walk from Inararo, offers a bird’s eye view of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway that cuts through the highlands of Hermosa and Dinalupihan towns in Bataan, and Floridablanca and Porac towns in Pampanga.

King’s grandson, Joseph, left for Saudi Arabia two years ago to work as a welder.

“Dakal na ing menibayu (A lot has changed),” King said of his clan’s life and their environs.

Read more: 19 years after Pinatubo’s ‘big bang,’ a lot of changes for these folks


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