June 3, 2023

Correcting interpretation of events on Mt Sto Tomas

I refer to the column of Atty. Pablito Sanidad in the Jan. 19, 2020 issue of the Baguio Midland Courier entitled “Can Mt. Sto. Tomas be like Taal Volcano?”
I noted that Atty. Sanidad got his information on Mt. Santo Tomas from Wikipedia. This letter is to correct his interpretation of events.
Mt. Santo Tomas is considered inactive with last dated eruption over one million years ago, which blanketed much of southern Cordillera (this is the red soil we see all around us, called Pico pyroclastic formation).
Mt. Santo Tomas is one of the three volcanoes in the Cordillera (the other two being Mt. Binuluan in Kalinga and Mt. Patoc in Bontoc, Mountain Province) with deep magmatic pressures released through vents of hot springs and solfatara, unlike Taal, Mayon, or Pinatubo.
The Jan. 4, 1641 geological event was an earthquake, possibly similar in magnitude to the 1990 Luzon earthquake that hit Baguio. The Wikipedia stated a “report of eruption or displacement,” described as “outburst of water accompanied by an earthquake,” which occurred on the same day Mt. Parker erupted. Mt. Santo Tomas did not erupt because there is no evidence of pyroclastic materials that can be dated to that year. The actual fact is that the outburst of water during or after the earthquake rather than “accompanied by an earthquake” resulted in the formation of a lake in southern Cordillera that became the valley of La Trinidad (see Scott’s “The Discovery of the Igorots; The Cordillera valley of La Trinidad-Early History”).
On the potential negative impacts of a nearby volcanic eruption on the Cordillera highland, it will not be as disruptive like displacement of people and destruction of farms and settlements. The Americans left following the eruption of Pinatubo and never to return because the Philippines is not their homeland. In our case, evacuation would be a temporary option as our resilience will always bring us back home. — JAMES PAW, La Trinidad, Benguet

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