The Inbox

Romancing Mayon and death in Cagsawa

Cagsawa ruins with Mayon Volcano in the background

By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

Things Bicol are once again in the news because its life and lore are once again recalled in Tanghalang Pilipino’s musical epic “Ibalong” opening February 8 until March 3 with a formidable cast that include Jenine Desiderio of Miss Saigon fame.

The colorful Ibalong epic managed to survive by oral tradition and interpretations vary from one chronicler to another, depending on the quality of scholarship of researchers taking another look at Bicol’s oral tradition.

Over in Albay, the legend surrounding the majestic Mayon Volcano, will come to life in the ballet version of “Daragang Magayon: Ang Istorya ni Mayon” due at the CCP on February 8 with choreographer Gerard Mercado teaming up with poet Virgilio Almario, composer Ramon Santos and Albay writer-researcher Abdon Balde, Jr.

Legend and mythology will unfold by multi-media in “Daragang Magayon” with the story danced to the rondalla music of composer Santos.

The good thing about this renewed interest on Bicol myth and legends is that they are used to promote tourism in Albay largely due to the cultural insight of Governor Joey Salceda who is one of the few with excellent track record on disaster-preparedness in his turf and still manage to help other disaster-prone provinces like Compostela Valley.

Apart from exploiting Bicol myth and legends and packaging them as entertainment fare in the country’s leading temple of the arts, Salceda has turned nature’s wrath into tourist attraction by promoting the month-long Cagsawa Festival in Daraga town in close partnership with Daraga Mayor Gerry Jaucian.

Daragang Magayon posterThe ruins of Cagsawa Church (just 11 kilometers away from the crater of Mayon Volcano) in barangay Busay in Daraga town are all that were left of the catastrophic 1814 Mayon eruption. That volcanic upheaval killed 1,200 inhabitants most of whom took shelter in the Cagsawa Church and ended up buried when the church was overwhelmed by boulders and boiling lavas.

Cagsawa’s first parish priest, Fr. Alfonso de Jadraque, took over in 1605 and he witnessed the relative prosperity of the settlement until 1634. Barangay Busay – which was part of Cagsawa – was where the first bullfight in the Philipines was staged according to the late Albay Bishop Teotimo Pacis.

Some 179 years before the cataclysmic eruption – on July 25, 1635 to be precise -- the town was ravaged by Dutch pirates and left it in total ruins.

Salceda likes to think that the Dutch pillage of 1635 to the tragic Mayon eruption of 1814 and to the equally disastrous Typhoon Reming in 2006 have given way to the resiliency of the Albayanos who have learned to cope with all kinds of natural and even man-made disasters.

The province is proud of the fact that it has been named a United Nations global model in disaster risk reduction.

Some 150 years after the 1814 tragic eruption, both Mayon and the Cagsawa Ruins have become favorite tourist destinations.

Ibalong posterIn 1963, former Education Secretary Alejandro Roces was able to scale Mayon with flying colors.

In the ‘70s, a mountain guide named Ricardo Dy had climbed Mayon more than 23 times.

A Japanese mountain climber who climbed Mayon in the ‘70s said, “Except for the absence of snow, Mayon measures up well to anything Fujiyama, Annapurna, the Alps, the Himalayas and other formidable mountains can offer and for so much less.”

In the 70s, a Swiss mountaineer named Jan Trangott made news when he observed his 46th birthday right on the mouth of Mayon Volcano. “This is one birthday I will never forget,” Jan said as he clinked glasses with his four companions. This mountaineer climbed on an early morning and reached the peak as the early morning sun broke through the clouds.

In Daraga town, an Albay chronicler also noted a wedding in his history book thus: “1974 (December 14). For the first time in 160 years, a Catholic wedding was solemnized in the Cagsawa Ruins at 4 p.m. Pablo A. Tariman of Baras, Catanduanes and a bride (from Daraga, Albay) were joined in a marriage by the Daraga assistant curate Fr. Eliakim Suela, OFM.”

The Cagsawa Festival -- which starts February 1 exactly 199 years after the 1814 tragic eruption – will see a gathering of healers (a herbolario convention it is called), a trail run and a cross-country bike race among others.

But outside the chicken eating competition and the pamaypay (fan)-making contests of the festival, it is best to remember Cagsawa for what it is, history and memory of nature’s wrath captured by Albay poet Marne Kilates thus:

Behold the goat-path, bramble, cogon

Over cobblestone, mortar crumbling.

Brown hands shaped this roofless wall

Now leaning; alien vision instructed

Their worship and submission, held

Their awe and selfhood in thrall.

Both are clutched by vine and root:

When sky dimmed and the Volcano's mouth

Glowed, the priest shuddered at the Elevation;

When stones rained and the earth shook,

Death brought its vague and fearful liberation,

The past preserved its durable ruin.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

  • Gaga's un-retouched images cause uproar
    Gaga's un-retouched images cause uproar

    Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott are said to be upset that un-retouched images they took of Lady Gaga for her Versace campaign were leaked. …

  • Centipede Bursts from Snake's Stomach
    Centipede Bursts from Snake's Stomach

    A group of researchers stumbled upon a grisly scene during a field study in Macedonia last year: a dead nose-horned viper with a centipede's head sticking out of its ruptured abdomen. "All of us were astonished, as nobody has ever seen something like this," Ljiljana Tomovi?, a herpetologist at the University of Belgrade, told Live Science in an email. The remnants of the death match were discovered when one researcher, Dragan Arsovski, turned over a stone, Tomovi? The unfortunate nose-horned …

  • 5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus
    5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus

    As Christians worldwide gather for Easter to celebrate their belief in the death and rebirth of Jesus, researchers continue to delve into the mysteries that surround the man. The following are five questions about Jesus that, for now, at least, remain unanswered. In 2008, astronomer Dave Reneke argued that the Star of Bethlehem (a celestial event long associated with Jesus' birth) may have been Venus and Jupiter coming together to form a bright light in the sky. Other researchers have …

  • Laptop used for first US presidential email finds a buyer
    Laptop used for first US presidential email finds a buyer

    The laptop computer that Bill Clinton used in 1998 to send the first-ever US presidential email has sold for $60,667 in an online auction, the Boston auction house that handled the transaction said Thursday. RR Auction did not disclose the name of the buyer of the still-functional Toshiba Satellite that Clinton borrowed to email veteran astronaut John Glenn, who was orbiting Earth aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The laptop, with accessories and full documentation, originally belonged to …

  • Stars and sacrifice this season
    Stars and sacrifice this season

    [caption id="attachment_127550" align="aligncenter" width="780"] From left: Julia Barretto, Miguel Tanfelix, Bianca Umali, Robi Domingo, Rovilson Fernandez, and Maria Isabel Lopez[/caption] Holy Week is not just about taking a break from work or school. Here is a list of things celebrities have opted to give up and their prayers during this solemn season: Leisure "Mira Bella" star Julia Barretto is really hoping to hit the beach during Holy Week break but it seems her production won't let …

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • 5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus

    5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus

    LiveScience.com - 18 hours ago
    5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus

    As Christians worldwide gather for Easter to celebrate their belief in the death and rebirth of Jesus, researchers continue to delve into the mysteries that surround the man. The following are five questions about Jesus that, for now, at least, remain unanswered. In 2008, astronomer Dave Reneke argued that the Star of Bethlehem (a celestial event long associated with Jesus' birth) may have been Venus and Jupiter coming together to form a bright light in the sky. Other researchers have …

  • 4 questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

    4 questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

    Associated Press - Sat, Apr 19, 2014
    4 questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

    Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers. …

  • Dear Ms. Kris Aquino

    MB - Sat, Apr 19, 2014

    Sometime in October, 2013, you assumed a new role as member of the board of directors of Central Azucarera de Tarlac. The news spread quickly among the good, decent, and hardworking farm workers and farmers at Hacienda Luisita and their supporters inside and outside of Tarlac. Your new role comes with corporate responsibilities to CAT, social responsibilities to farm workers and farmers of Hacienda Luisita, and civic responsibilities to the country.  The nation and the world now looks at what …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options