I blinked my eyes, surprised and confused at what I saw. My duty as a medical intern just finished and it was the first time in 24-hours that I went out of the hospital. This was in 1991 and we still didn’t have cellphones, iphones, Twitter or Facebook. Most of us didn’t have cable TV with CNN either. So I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.
It was already eight o’clock in the morning yet the sky was dark and everything was covered with a white material I wasn’t familiar with. It was as if we had a snowfall. (Note: The Philippines is a tropical country and we NEVER have snow.)
Then I heard the BAD news: Mount Pinatubo, a volcano fifty miles north of Manila has erupted. That white material was volcanic ash.
Actually, there were volcanic explosions occurring since about two months back and people already started to evacuate.
Maybe it was my youth or my very difficult intern job, but I wasn’t aware about those things.
On June 15, Saturday, Mount Pinatubo erupted. Lasting nine hours, it was the second largest volcanic eruption on earth in 100 years.
A giant cloud rose twenty miles in the air and spread a 2-inch layer of ash and sand over a 30-mile radius. The air filled with white ash so thick it reduced visibility to almost zero.
Look at this world-famous photo. I’m happy to say that the photographer lived to show it to us 🙂
To make matters worse, we also had Typhoon Yunya. The volcanic ash mixed with rain and then carried by the wind blanketed Luzon, the Philippine’s biggest region. More than 800 people died and the economic destruction was staggering.
That day, June 15, 1991 became known as Black Saturday.
I remember this painful incident because four days from now, I will be joining the Mount Pinatubo Trail Run.
I’ve done a full marathon, four half-marathons, and many shorter races. But, this will be my FIRST trail run.
This is what awaits me:
I’m glad I registered for this race. It’s going to be an extraordinary event I’m sure. For then we will run remembering that painful event in our history. More importantly, we will run appreciating how resilient the Filipinos are: