LOVE CONQUERS ASH

“Deep waters cannot quench love, nor rivers sweep it away.” ~ Song of Solomon 8:7 A fisherfolk in Talisay, Batangas was able to save his most cherished possession: his wife’s wedding picture. Although made old by time and the elements, the photo, tinged by ash and soil, is a testament of Mang Rodrigo’s unwavering love for his wife, Aling Nectar. After the phreatic eruption of January 12, 2020, he immediately set out for the lake and went for their old place of residence in Pulo in order to recover what still remains of their belongings. He recounted that among the appliances and furniture they own, their first picture as a couple is the most indispensable one. It is beyond worth. “Lahat ay malilimutan at maiiwanan, huwag laang areng litrato namin ni misis,” Mang Rodrigo shared. In an interview with LASAC’s surge team, the couple recounted their early years of courtship, along with their shared experiences whenever the Taal volcano would erupt. “Iyang bulkan ay kilabot kung sumabog. Noong araw nama’y walang mga speed boat para lumikas agad. Talagang mag-aagwanta at magtitiis sa pagsagwan.” They recounted the numerous times of Mt. Taal’s unrest which wreaked havoc on their crops and livestocks, prompting the residents in the island to seek temporary respite into neighboring towns such as Talisay, Balete and San Nicolas. His wife later recalled the manner of how Mang Rogrigo would sneak out from fishing to see her and “woo” her. “Iyan ay kunwari’y mangingisda, pero ang tungo ay dine sa amin. May kalayuan kung mamamangka pero ang lagi niyang sabi ay sulit naman, basta’t magkita lamang. Madalas ay ginagabi kaya nauubos ang aming pailaw.” The temporary lamps in Aling Nectar’s place, however, were no match to the spark and joy it brings whenever Mang Rodrigo would stay in their abode, sharing stories and accounts from the previous days of toil in the lake and in school. Mang Rodrigo and Aling Nectar has been deeply in love since their younger days. Last January 15, they have celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary, and no matter how many eruption, ashfalls and hazards they may witness, nothing would compare to the intensity of their love for each other.