Blue, Green, and Grey (Mt. Pinatubo)

Yours, truly, stretching before taking a dip in nature's giant bathtub

Yours, truly, stretching before taking a dip in nature’s giant bathtub

Mt. Pinatubo is half-dead, half-alive.

My first look at the grey terrain revealed the chasm between life and death—shrubs, grass, and scattered miniature rivers thriving on the remnants of lahar (infamously known for killing thousands of people almost 20 years ago).

The indigenous Aetas, occasionally getting distracted as our 4×4 cars passed by their homes, reside in tents among the vast area filled with rocks and sand.

You can find volcanic rocks at the other side of the crater.

You can find volcanic rocks at the other side of the crater.

Don't go near the cliffs since landslides occasionally occur. Admire them from a safe distance.

Don’t go near the cliffs since landslides occasionally occur. Admire them from a safe distance.

And yet, amid this constant and contradicting pull between extremes, there is beauty. I felt that most when I reached the volcano’s peak, put on a life jacket, swam towards the middle of the crater, and allowed myself to float while looking at the sky.

No, this isn't the sea. This is the crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo.

No, this isn’t the sea. This is the crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo. This is a shot of (a sleep deprived) me before I took a dip in the water.

I’ve conquered this volcano twice: once in 2010 and another instance in 2011. Back then, tourists could still swim in the crater lake. The slightly acidic sulfur water is good for the skin. But ever since a white tourist drowned, swimming has been banned ever since. Shame.

The peak of Mt. Pinatubo

Mt. Pinatubo is near the tripoint of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga in Luzon, Philippines. There is an “easy” and a “hard” version of the trail to the peak.

All photos by Raydon L. Reyes

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