The Philippines’ most popular active volcano is Mt. Mayon also known as Mayon Volcano. It is stratvolcano similar to Mt. Apo only that it is active. Mt. Mayon is located in the province of Albay in Bicol region. It forms the northern boundary of Legazpi City. Local folklore refers Mt. Mayon as Bulkang Magayon which is after the legendary heroine Daragang Magayon (which means Lady Beautiful).
Mt. Mayon is the Philippines’ most active volcano and is considered to be the world’s most perfectly formed volcano because of its symmetrical cone. The current cone was formed through pyroclastic and lava flows from past eruptions. The upper slopes of the volcano are steep averaging 35-40 degrees and are capped by a small summit crater. Its sides are layers of lava and other volcanic material. Mt. Mayon rises 8,077 ft above the gulf.
Last October 13, 2008, Mayon Volcano is included in New 7 Wonders of Nature Top 10 list but unfortunately, it did not make the cut to the Top 25 finalists. This gives a way to another Philippine site which is Puerto Princesa Subterranean River.
Mt. Mayon has undergone forty-nine eruptions in recorded history and the first recorded major eruption was in 1616. The most destructive eruption of Mayon occurred on February 1, 1814 which buried the town of Cagsawa. During that time, Mt. Mayon was belching dark ash and eventually bombarding the town with tephra. Trees were burned; rivers were certainly damaged and 2,200 Albay locals perished in what is considered to be the most lethal eruption in Mayon’s history. Now, only the bell tower of the town’s church remained.
In June 23,1897, Mt. Mayon erupted again to what was known as the longest uninterrupted eruption with lava flowing down to civilization. The village of Bacacay was buried 15 meters beneath the lava along with 100 people declared dead in Libon, Albay. They were burned by steam and falling debris or hot rocks. In the 1993 Mt Mayon eruption, Pyroclastic flows killed 77 people which were mainly farmers.
Since Mt. Mayon is the most active volcano in the Philippines, it is regularly monitored by PHIVOLCS from their provincial headquarters on Ligñon Hill which is 10 kilometers away from the summit. There are three telemetric units that are installed in the volcano’s slopes which is responsible for sending information to seven seismometers in different locations around the volcano. These instruments send information to the Ligñon Hill observatory as well as to the PHIVOLCS central headquarters in UP Diliman campus. To monitor the volcano’s daily activity, PHIVOLCS deploys electronic distance meters (EDMs), precise leveling benchmarks, and portable fly spectrometers.
Despite Mt. Mayon as being an active volcano, many would still want to climb especially professional mountaineers. But because of its changing environment, PHIVOLCS advises people to see the majestic volcano at the view point instead of climbing. There are skilled mountaineers who have already reached its crater but only a few encourages others to go. Climbing Mayon Volcano is tough and may require strong endurance, courage, and knowledge on volcanic topography. For those who are really interested, consulting PHIVOLCS of the recent volcanic activity of Mt. Mayon is a must before climbing. Be sure to have an experienced guide or take someone who have been there. Climbing and descending from the volcano takes about 2 days.
There are a lot of legends as to how Mayon Volcano was formed. One of the famous legends was the one narrated by Laura Agpay, a native of Bicol
Legend of Mayon Volcano
Once there was a princess named Daragang Magayon (Daraga means lady, Magayon is beautiful) who lived in Bicol. She’s so beautiful. She came from the family that reigns over the entire Bicol.
Because of her beauty and influence, warriors, princes and datus from different parts of the country desired to have her as their wife. But Magayon fell in love with a warrior named Handiong, a prince who came from a tribe that was, unfortunately, the rival of Magayon’s tribe. The two suffered so much from their respective family’s attempts to separate them that they finally decided to flee. Unfortunately their families found out and fought a bloody tribal war. This caused the young couple so much pain they decided together to commit suicide.
The tribes buried the lovers separately. Months passed when Magayon’s tribe saw a volcano growing in the place where Magayon was buried. They named it for Daragang Magayon. “Bulkang Magayon” describing its perfect shape likes their beautiful Daraga.
Getting to Mt. Mayon is through air from Manila to Albay (Legazpi Airport) which has 3 flights daily. Alternatively, you can take the bus from Manila to Legazpi which will take approximately 11 hours. Currently there are 10 bus companies which operate daily transport.
Visit Legazpi City and have a glimpse of the majestic Mt. Mayon up close.