He is a young man with haunted eyes, on a cane, moving slowly up the line of cars at a Maharlika stoplight with the jerky, quivery gait of a sufferer of cerebral palsy (no, not MS -- I had to look these up). He seems to be new at asking for handouts from strangers, which is what he is doing. Observing him, I become more sad when the light changes and he must move to the side of the road one car short of reaching my own car. I'm on the inside of a double lane, and traffic is traffic, so I drive on. The Philippines has a social safety net, which is more than one can say for some other Third World countries, but the net does not spread wide enough, and it is frayed.
I'd been looking for a couple of decent lamps capable of being cat-proofed for my room, and had given up the chase after being disappointed at two stores. Now I was heading for the supermarket at the SM Mall to pick up some items for Jheng's family and for myself. After pushing a cart up and down the aisles with face mask and face shield dutifully in place, I drove over to the duplex to drop off the items and for a car switch-off: Jheng would need the Avanza tomorrow to bring her grandmother to the doc for a followup checkup, and for a longganisa run as well (you may remember that she preps and transports Philippine sausage). Her three children came along for the ride as she took me back to my place, and during the ride she mentioned that police had visited the guy with the street pool table to investigate the crime scene and question witnesses. The funeral and burial of David have already taken place.
Taal Volcano, about one hundred miles south of Cab City, continues to sputter and emit large plumes of sulfur dioxide, but nothing like the eruption of July 1 (which killed no one, thankfully) has taken place since then. Volcanologists report that magma within the Taal chamber is continuing to rise, and about 5,500 lakeside residents -- the volcano is an island in Taal Lake -- have been moved to evacuation centers. The Alert Level remains at 3.
As you probably know, the Philippines sits smack on the Pacific Ring of Fire (it's more of an arc, really) that runs on roughly contiguous plate boundaries from New Zealand to the Philippines, to Japan, to Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, to Alaska, to the Pacific coasts of both North and South America. Areas girdling this ring are prone to earthquakes and peppered with extinct, dormant, and active volcanoes. The Philippines has many earthquakes each day between 1 and 4 on the Richter Scale, with an earthquake above 4 happening almost daily somewhere in the islands. Phivolcs, a governmental agency whose bailiwick is volcanoes and earthquakes, keeps track of them here:
Luzon Island has most of the country's volcanoes, with 33 on the island: 16 labeled extinct, 13 dormant, and 4 active. Taal, of course, is one of the active ones. Of the other three, one provided a volcanic eruption that in its explosive power was second only to Alaska's 1912 Novarupta eruption in the 20th century: Mt. Pinatubo.