The Revered Mountain
To the Aetas, the country’s semi-nomadic Negrito tribes, Pinatubo was no ordinary mountain. The 1,745 meter peak straddling the provinces of Pampanga, Zambales, and Tarlac in the central part of Luzon Island in the Philippines is home to this ethnic people. Considered an inheritance from their ancestors, Pinatubo is the place where the Aetas believe they can freely commune with departed spirits of their forefathers whom they believe inhabit the animals, trees and mounds of earth that abound there. Traditionally animists, the Aetas have considered Pinatubo as sanctuary as they struggle to survive through game hunting and crop-gathering while holding fast to their pagan practice of animal and tree worship. More than a home and a sanctuary of worship, however, Pinatubo is the Aetas’ ‘Holy of Holies’, the inner sanctum where their supreme God, the Apo na Mallari, dwells.
The Fearsome Volcano
Pinatubo Volcano, one of the 22 active volcanoes dotting the Philippines, is part of the chain of volcanoes which borders the western side of Luzon and lies in the central portion of the Zambales Range (15 degrees 08.20’N and 120 degrees 21.35’E), a NNW-trending mountain belt that extends 220 kms. from Lingayen Gulf in the north and Bataan in the South. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS) says that as early as 7 million years ago, the eruptive activity of the Zambales range had already begun. This lasted for millions of years, subsiding only 450 years ago. Radiometric dating on Pinatubo Volcano indicates that it has been active for over 1.1 million years while older eruptions yielded as much as 6.7 cubic kilometers of materials deposited on its western flanks.
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