On June 1991, a few days after my parents tied the knot, the second-largest volcanic eruption of the century occurred thanks to Mt. Pinatubo which, prior to said activity, was in dormancy. I remember my parents telling me that you can see the cloud of volcanic ash in the horizon all the way to Isabela (for more info about the mountain, visit its Wikipedia page at your own risk). Years later, the new landscape that the eruption created is now an attraction to tourists. It became even more popular after KathNiel’s movie, Crazy Beatiful You was shown in cinemas nationwide. Suddenly, there’s always a picture or two taken at the crater on my social media feed.
When my forever dependable travel buddy Fae organized a Pinatubo trip with some high school friends and their “plus ones”, I gladly joined and looked forward to posting a picture of me at the crater with Daniel and Kathryn’s convo about beautiful disasters as the caption (lo and behold HAHA!)
I’m not going to write about the tips on how to get there, things to do and other whatnots because the Internet is teeming with blog posts from people who are way better than me at giving advice.
What I’ll write about are my realizations.
(1) GoPros take really awesome or really bad pictures, nothing in between. Also, almost every group has a member who owns one. Thanks to my schwester for lending me hers!
(2) When you start being condescending of people who look like they’re going to die from exhaustion despite the hike being less than 20 minutes and the trail being anything but hard, repent! You have no right to judge the physical capacities of another.
(3) Thought of a hashtag, #PinasMuna. Because our country is beautiful (bias and all).
(4) Taking pictures of locals, especially if they’re indigent and more so if they’re children, makes me uncomfortable (but I’m still guilty of doing it from time to time out of habit). Imagine half a dozen cameras shoved on your face. It also breaks my heart when they hold out their hands afterwards asking for money, I don’t give them anything because it harbors begging, and I walk away feeling like an asshole. Tourism is a double-edged sword.
(5) Visiting natural tourist spots is always a gamble (paano kung pangit ang view/umulan ng malakas/sorang uminit/puro ulap ang makita mo?). That’s why you always have to pray for it.
Thank God for the chilly morning weather and gentle winds, the (relatively) easy hike, the amazing view, my friends and their friends, and our safe return. It is only you who can create something so beautiful out of something so violent.
Visitors before the spot became famous experienced swimming in the crater as well as a boat ride across. For some reason, almost every other activity has been prohibited (the spa town is closed, if you insist on going to the water falls your driver gets suspended, etc). Dear Capas Tourism, pakiayos please (because when you ask people why, they give different answers)!