March 17, 2018

Adventists in the Philippines Assist Volcano Evacuees

Teresa Costello, Southern Asia Pacific Division News

Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is home to Mayon, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.[1] Since the beginning of the year, Mayon’s volcanic activity has increased until it began erupting on January 13.[2]

On January 14, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS) issued a level 3 alert indicating that area residents should prepare for evacuation if the Mayon volcanic activity level rose.[3] Potential dangers included explosions, landslides, and falling rocks.[4]

Families began moving into evacuation centers the next day with the numbers increasing as PHILVOLCS raised the alert to level 4 (hazardous eruption imminent) on January 22.[5] By January 29, more than 90,000 people had been evacuated.

Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Philippines has responded twice so far to the Mayon volcano situation. They are working in conjunction with Adventist Community Services (ACS) volunteers from the Southern Luzon Mission (SLM). On January 28-30, volunteers distributed bedding kits and bottled water to 600 families. The water was donated by the Manila Water Foundation for these families. On March4-5, they distributed bedding kits to 800 families. SLM leaders also assisted in the distribution.

The bedding kit consists of a sleeping mat, bedding and a mosquito net. "The community members who received these were extremely grateful for ADRA Philippines and the church's response since evacuees have been living in evacuation centers for over a month," said Tom Pignon, ADRA Philippines director.

During the first few weeks, ADRA Philippines monitored the situation closely. “Through SLM who has ACS people in the area, we were talking with government groups and offering assistance when needed,” said Pignon. Once the provincial government declared a state of calamity, ADRA Philippines could then submit a funding request to ADRA International and the regional office. These funds, including a contribution from the church, provided the supplies for the two distributions.

In terms of support, Pignon values the work of the local members, churches and institutions. He explains, “From ADRA Philippines’ perspective, ACS and the church members on the ground are really the lifeblood of how ADRA responds. One of the real advantages ADRA has as a humanitarian agency is the fact that we have a presence on the ground in the community so it’s not that we are coming in and having to set up our operations. We’re already there through the church. We have members there to help with distribution. We have the church structure in place...ADRA has a long history of responding to disasters in the Philippines but...if it wasn't for that partnership between ADRA and the church, we wouldn't be able to respond in the way that we do.”

Current information about how to help with this and other ADRA projects in the Philippines can be found at

Mayon is near Legazpi City, approximately 205 miles (330 kilometers) southeast of the country’s capital in Manila. Mayon has erupted almost 50 times since 1616 with four eruptions recorded in the last decade.[6]

ADRA Philippines has a 30-year history of assisting those in need throughout the Philippines. It is part of an international network of independent ADRA country offices that operate in more than 130 countries around the world.

[1] The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Mayon Volcano. Encyclopaedia Britannica. March 1, 2018.

[2] Volcano Group. Eruption at Mayon Volcano, Luzon Island, Philippines. Earth Observatory of Singapore. January 19, 2018.

[3]Department of Science and Technology. Mayon Volcano Bulletin January 2018 8:00 pm. Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

[4] Philippines: Mayon Volcano – January 2018. Reliefweb.

[5] Cheung, Eric. Mount Mayon volcano alert raised after ash and lava spill out. CNN. January 22, 2018.

[6] Wei-Haas, Maya. Geology Makes the Mayon Volcano Visually Spectacular—And Dangerously Explosive. January 19, 2018.