JUNE 15, 1991, felt like Armageddon in the Philippines. Twenty-seven years ago today, Mount Pinatubo erupted in the country’s north, blowing a cloud into the sky that would cast its shadow over the entire planet.
Its effect was greatly felt by the Kapampangans who were the primary casualties of what is considered the strongest terrestrial volcanic eruption in the past 100 years.
Now, after almost three decades, the historic event that shaped the fate of the province and its people seem to have led more good than the bad.
This, according to one of the Pampanga’s visionary and primemover, Levy Laus, who shared that while there is little comfort in the devastation of a natural disaster, it gave the people an opportunity to go not only beyond rebuilding the province but also in revitalizing its future.
“Everything has its own time and purpose. So whatever suffering we had then, clearly helped us to look forward and in turn allowed us to become who we are today and how the province has positioned itself,” he said.
“We can say that we have succeeded in overturning the fate, as our beloved province and the whole Central Luzon in general is now so blessed and steadily riding in the momentum of our country’s strong economy,” he added.
Laus, who spearheaded the Save San Fernando Movement, said that the now eminent success of the province is the huge contribution of the Kapampangans who deliberately took community-driven actions to save Pampanga during the catastrophic period.
One of the most notable moves his organization of volunteers did was taking up the challenge of raising money to rehabilitate the province, instead of mourning and waiting for the government to help with the effort.
“We led a private fundraising that involved not only big businessmen and political leaders but also local citizens and students. Though our mutual vision and unity, we were able to raise as much as P20 million to construct the San Fernando Tail Dike,” he noted.
Another post-disaster initiative the group pioneered was to launch a campaign where they encouraged fellow Fernandinos and Kapampangans to reflect on the slogan “If future Fernandinos would ask, ‘what have you done to save the city?’ what will you answer?”
“Now we have the answer for that, and our present generation can see it for themselves. They can look around and can actually agree that we have a thriving province, bustling infrastructure, and sound business climate. With that said, we can always proudly look back and tell them that we did everything we could, and we succeeded in defending our beloved Pampanga,” he relayed.
Laus said that Kapampangans should continue to commemorate the Mount Pinatubo eruption to enlighten the present generation on how the calamity proved their race can triumph over any form of adversity.
“It’s always necessary that people should be reminded, particularly the young ones, who have no idea at all what happened during those trying times where their elders did something heroic to make sure that the future Fernandinos and future Kapampangans will be saved from the destruction,” he quipped.
“We should continue to tell them the stories all over again, for them to pass it on to the next generation who will then pass it on to the next. The lessons of those years should be kept alive, as it is the manifestation of our resilience, indomitable spirit, and how we survived and rose from the ashes,” he concluded. (With JTD)