20th Anniversary of the Mt. Pinatubo Eruption: The Triumph of the Pampangueno Spirit

Top Quote Twenty years ago, the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century took place at Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) June 23, 2011 - The human spirit is always unmistakably tried and measured by adversity.

    Twenty years ago, the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century took place at Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. The eruption produced high-speed avalanches of hot ash and gas, massive lahar flows for years on end, and a cloud of volcanic ash hundreds of miles across the Asian region, and altering the climate around the globe.

    The human impact of the Mt. Pinatubo disaster is staggering. The eruption brought a swath of devastation, as some 800 people lost their lives and almost half a billion dollars in infrastructure, property and crops were destroyed.

    Rebuilding from the Ashes

    In the wake of this unprecedented natural disaster, Pampanga was hardest hit, with 173 barangays and close to 250,000 people affected, and the province seemed to face a bleak, almost hopeless future.

    But yes, the Pampangueños were hurt, but they were not defeated. They focused and willed themselves on rebuilding and recovering from this catastrophe. Armed by a firm resolve and an indomitable faith in God, the people of Pampanga united together to clean up the mud and debris and to reconstruct again their homes, brick by brick, and rebuild their livelihood, piece by piece.

    The government did its part, as it spearheaded the biggest rehabilitation effort ever seen in recent times. The national and local governments in Pampanga initiated immediate emergency relief for the thousands of evacuees and people affected by the disaster.

    To support the massive reconstruction, the Mt. Pinatubo Task Force was organized by then President Corazon Aquino, which was later expanded into the Mt. Pinatubo Assistance, Resettlement and Development Commission under Republic Act 7637 under President Fidel V. Ramos. The national government approved the appropriation and release of P10 billion for the victims of the eruption also under Pres. Ramos.

    The international community galvanized together to lend support as global aid agencies poured in billions of pesos to provide emergency relief, medicines and basic social services and later on to contribute to the repair and reconstruction of damaged infrastructures.

    Initially, quick and timely intervention to construct dikes and dams in the river channels from the volcano were initiated to stem the tide of lahar and mudflows that threatened many areas in Pampanga and nearby province. Later on, a comprehensive infrastructure development rehabilitation program was laid out to rehabilitate river systems infrastructures and repair and reconstruct damaged roads, bridges, irrigation systems and schools health centers and other public buildings.

    To complement the infrastructure program, the government led efforts to help the Pampangueños back on their feet through livelihood programs focused on agriculture and industry. Funds were allotted for the rehabilitation of farm lands and the installation of poultry and livestock industry programs, supplemented by agricultural financing and the repair of irrigation systems.

    Moving Forward

    Twenty years after that horrible event, the Pampanguenos have turned tragedy into triumph. Pampanga has not only survived - it stands proud and created human progress that demonstrated to the world its resilience and resolve.

    As Pampanga commemorates the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, it is not so much to re-create the devastation, but to celebrate the indomitable spirit that has brought out the best of the Kapampangan now and in the future.

    The province is on the next stage in its drive to be one of the most progressive in the country, as the provincial government led by Governor Lilia G. Pineda and Representative (and former President) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo forge a united front to utilize the economic opportunities and strengths it offers, and to promote the new Pampanga to the Philippines and to the world.

    Mabuhay ang Pampangueños, Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

    Rebuilding Programs and Projects

    Basic social services:
    Relief services (P370.5M)
    Health and nutrition service ((P367M)
    Infrastructure rehabilitation and reconstruction:
    River Systems Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (P2.9B)
    Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of Roads and Bridges (P1.5B)
    Development of Alternate Routes in Capas-Botolan Road (P537M)
    San Fernando-Dinalupihan Road (P1.4B)
    Angeles-Porac-Floridablanca-Dinalupihan Road ( (P169M)
    Rehabilitation of Damaged Schools and Public Buildings (P982M)
    Mobile Health Facilities (P40M)
    Repair and Rehabilitation of Damaged National and Communal Irrigation Systems (P228.6M)
    Rehabilitation of Railway Facilities (P70M)
    Resettlement for the Aeta highlanders (P349m) and the lowlanders (P1.689B)
    Livelihood programs focused on agriculture and industry
    Bamboo Development Project (P80mn)
    Agricultural Rehabilitation Program (P197.4mn)
    Agricultural Development Program (P615mn)
    Productivity Centers (P1.12bn)
    Integrated Cattle Fattening Program (P120mn)
    Integrated Poultry Livelihood Program (P40mn)
    Deep Sea Fishing (P58mn)
    Financing Programs (P3.718bn)
    Common Service Facilities (P50mn)

    The eruption Mount Pinatubo spewed gases and ash that reached an altitude of 34 km (21 miles) high into the atmosphere within two hours of the eruption, and spread over an area 400 km (250 miles) wide. This eruption was the largest disturbance of the stratosphere since the eruption of Krakatau in 1883, and was ten times larger than Mt. St. Helens in 1980.

    The province of Pampanga was hit hard with extensive damage to agriculture, buildings and infrastructure that cost billions of pesos to repair.

    A total of 364 communities and 2.1 million people were affected by the eruption, with personal livelihood, crops and houses and government facilities like school buildings, health centers, barangay halls and even churches damaged or destroyed.

    More than 8,000 houses were completely destroyed, and thousands of Kapampangans had to flee and evacuate from the onslaught of ashfall and massive lahar flows throughout the areas surrounding the volcano.

    Facts About the Mt. Pinatubo Eruption

    *Deaths -About 800 people in 1991; 79 people in 1992
    *Damage to agricultural crops- Infrastructure and property; At least P10.1B (US$ 374M) in 1991; Additional P1.9B ($US 69M) in 1992 ;The estimated cost of repairing the damage to infrastructure was P3.8 billion.
    *Foregone business - Around P454M ($US 17M) in 1991, and additional P37M ($US1.4M) in 1992; Approximately 800 square kilometers (200,000 acres) of rice-growing farmland destroyed, and some 800,000 head of livestock and poultry killed ; The damage to agriculture was estimated to be P1.5 billion
    *Macroeconomic impact - The gross regional domestic product of the Pinatubo area accounted for about 10 percent of the total Philippine gross domestic product. The GRDP fell from an average of 5 percent annually before the eruption, to -3 percent in 1991.

    Tourist Destination to Visit

    Pampanga Baguo River Cruise - witness hundreds of species of birds feeding at early morning or late afternoon; go fishing, crabbing and shrimping at the number one supplier of tilapia, crabs and prawns;or simply enjoy boating along calm waters.

    Heritage Tour to Betis, Lubao and Sta. Rita churches - see the elaborate carved ceiling, omate altar, and old bells of these churches.

    Florida Blanca View Deck - be amazed with the expansive view of the mountain ranges of Pampanga and with the extent of the SCTEX connection;

    Porac Trek/ATV Route to Mt. Pinatubo - experience the climb to the legendary Mt. Pinatubo thru trekking or riding an All-Terrain Vehicle; meet the Aetas along the way and share their way of life thru a meal or learning indigenous survival techniques then relax in the Mt. Pinatubo lake.

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