Way back in 2001, I wrote an essay for school that compared the volcanic eruptions of Mt. Pinatubo to Mt. St. Helens. Mt. Pinatubo is considered one of the more powerful eruptions of the 20th century. When I was living in Angeles City, Philippines, the volcano wasn’t too far away. The main eruption happened on June 15, 1991.
This post will go over three lessons I learned as a result of the volcanic eruption.
I know what it feels like to be involved in a volcanic eruption
As stated earlier, the main eruption happened on June 15, 1991. My brother and I were playing outside when we saw a large mushroom cloud erupt into the sky. We ran inside not knowing what it was.
I had seen nuclear bomb specials on TV before and I thought that’s what the explosion might have been. My mom informed us that it was the volcano erupting.
That sky grew dark quickly as both a volcanic eruption and a typhoon struck at about the same time. The rain soaked the ash and it began to literally rain rocks.
The rain-soaked ash collapsed many structures, including a small part of our house. The night of the major eruption, we had to deal with raining ash, a major typhoon, and non-stop earthquakes.
The next day was fairly sunny. It looked like it had just snowed.
Soon after the eruption, my family and I evacuated to Manila where we awaited our trip back to the United States.
I know what it feels like to be poor
While in the Philippines, my family lived in a fairly nice neighborhood with a nice house. We had a yard boy, a nanny, and a guard dog. We had people cook for us, and had people to buy our groceries.
My family and I arrived around June 22nd, 1991 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gone were the luxuries we were used to.
My mom was familiar with Las Vegas and decided on this city to live in. My mom had a friend with a small apartment and he allowed us all to stay in it until she could afford her own place. For a month, my brother, my sister, my mom, my mom’s friend, and I, all stayed in a small, one-bedroom apartment.
All of our things in the Philippines had to be shipped over, so we literally only had what was in our suit cases. I was ten at the time and when you are that age, you grow out of clothing fast. As a result, my brother and I would always go to school with bad shoes and clothes that didn’t fit. My mom simply couldn’t afford to buy us clothes but once a year.
My mom could only initially find a job cleaning motel rooms, so her income wasn’t that great. We were eventually able to move into our own place in Vegas, but we had absolutely no furniture and had to sleep on the floor.
It was during this time that my brother and I grew very independent (with our mom always working) and tried to make our own money to buy our own clothes, food, school supplies, and more.
I know what it feels like to be an outsider
When I arrived into the US in 1991, I was in culture shock. I could never quite grasp why stores charged $1.99 for something instead of just $2. Beverly Hills 90-2-10 was now Beverly Hills 90210. Power Rangers were just starting to become hit in the US when my brother and I were exposed to them long ago in the Philippines.
My brother and I wore very “non-US” clothes and weren’t used to the slang. We both loved to play in the dirt, which was a no-no at an apartment complex. My brother and I were exposed for the first time to gang violence and the American school system.
I also marveled at how large a US city really was. In the Philippines, I would always walk around my neighborhood. In Vegas, I was kinda afraid to.
Thank you for reading the things I learned from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about my experiences in the Philippines.