Philippine farmers face bleak future in Taal's shadow

Volcano remains a danger, experts say, as people sneak back to save livestock

A man clearing volcanic ash from the roof of his house in Batangas province. Tens of thousands of people have fled villages blanketed by heavy ash from Taal.
A man clearing volcanic ash from the roof of his house in Batangas province. Tens of thousands of people have fled villages blanketed by heavy ash from Taal.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
A man clearing volcanic ash from the roof of his house in Batangas province. Tens of thousands of people have fled villages blanketed by heavy ash from Taal.
There are about 250 evacuees at Padre Pio Shrine in Santo Tomas, Batangas (above). PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
There are about 250 evacuees at Padre Pio Shrine in Santo Tomas, Batangas (above left). Residents unloading their horses from a wooden boat after rescuing them from their homes and transporting them to Balete town, Batangas province.
(Above). Residents unloading their horses from a wooden boat after rescuing them from their homes and transporting them to Balete town, Batangas province.PHOTOS: CRISTINA MENINA FOR THE STRAITS TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Ms Estela Mendoza was looking forward to a full harvest of corn by the end of this month when a volcano which had been a majestic, if silent, presence for most of her life started roaring.

In a matter of hours, she saw her husband's entire crop blanketed with a thick layer of ash and mud as the volcano, Taal, spewed massive columns of earth and debris on a clear Sunday afternoon.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2020, with the headline 'Farmers face bleak future in Taal's shadow'. Subscribe