Smoking Mt. Mayon and Legazpi
There were several conquistadors in the 16th century, all who claimed the Philippines in the name of Spain, but Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who arrived in 1565, was the one who cemented Spain’s hold over the archipelago for the next few centuries.
I won’t go into the nitty gritty of the history of the Philippines, but the thing about Miguel Lopez de Legazpi is that he was actually a Basque sailor, one who came from Xiker’s own hometown, Zumarraga. There’s a statue of Legazpi in the town plaza of Zumarraga, where he is depicted in full conquistador regalia, standing on—no kidding— a Filipino’s head (body not included).
When we went to see it, before embarking on our trip, I was appalled by the statue and muttered that considering Basque Country is fighting for independence, it is mighty ironic they have a statue of a conquistador who once supported Spain in its attempt at world domination.
Well, history is history, and now there is a town in Southeast Luzon called Legazpi, after this very same person.
However, we were not there to celebrate this person nor his bloody deeds, but to admire smoking Mt. Mayon, deemed the world’s most perfect volcano.
Rising from the flat terrain of the region, Mt. Mayon stands as a symmetric cone, topping out at 2462m (8077 feet). It is far from dormant, though, and is the most active volcano in the Philippines. It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, standing near the Philippine Trench where a plate is being pushed under another oceanic plate. There is a constant plume of smoke coming from the top, and the lava formations near the mouth of the cone seem purple from a distance.
There have actually been several eruptions in the last decade alone… In the fall of 2009 thousands of people were evacuated from their homes because of so much volcanic activity; and the most recent eruption happened in May 2013, which killed 5 climbers.