February 14, 2015

Clingy Pinatubo

Photos © Erika Ochosa | Ron Miranda | Andi Comia

Ever since social media assumed a constant position in my life, photos of the enchanting green waters of the Mt. Pinatubo crater lake have been popping on my feed and has made its way to every suceeding new year’s resolution I’ve made. I promised to dedicate this year to exploring the Philippines and traveling and I'm delighted to say that I am finally able to cross it off my list.  

The majestic hue of the lake was something I had been dreaming of seeing with my own eyes. But through the years, word about its changing color had spread. As I was expecting an animated scene that was straight out of a pixar film, what we saw was oddly familiar. Much to my dismay, it had a dark blue tone with touches of moss green  the exact opposite of what I was expecting. It was quite disappointing as a certain website had cited that the perfect time to visit is from December to February. This is where the the lake supposedly radiates with a stunning hue. Seeing what was before me only confirmed my fear of the changes that could be taking place within the crater lake over time. Well, just my luck. It was still a pretty sight, but I could just imagine how jaw-dropping it would’ve been if it were the postcard image that welcomed me after walking under the unforgiving heat. I couldn’t get it off of my head and though I couldn’t find any concrete sources, Google led me to a possible explanation:

Sulfur generally initiates a green color and green it should have been unless there was a decrease in volcanic sulfur. When a body of water is as deep as the crater lake, which is at 800m (deepest in the Philippines), the particles in it usually settle at the bottom. This phenomenon allows light to penetrate through and reflect such a color for our eyes to feast on. Disturbance of such state, caused by a recent rainfall, or a large mass of earth, due to a landslide, or if a giant suddenly grabbed a handful of mud and dumped it on the lake, would equal a corresponding change in hue.

There you go.

Our tour guide even added that the locals had no basis of foretelling the changes in the lake. Rapid color change happens and lasts in different time periods, with the cyan color sometimes lasting only a week. It’s a good thing the Mt. Pinatubo crater lake wasn’t the sole attraction. 
The whole trip was a treat. 

Getting to the crater lake required us to ride through the scenic aftermath of the volcanic eruption in 4x4 vehicles. It’s definitely a thrill for anyone who enjoys roughing it. At this point, I was already thinking of coming back with my own ride. Imagine stepping into what looked like the surface of the moon with practically no vegatation and plenty of earth. It was a long and rugged, yet visually pleasurable drive along a glorious terrain that made us cling on to the rails for our lives. There was water splashing and a whole lot of dust. 

If you enjoy getting wet and dirty, You'll definitely have fun. 

I ain't done with you Pinatubo. I’m coming back.