A photo of the erupting Mayon Volcano, in Albay, Bicol Region in southeastern Luzon, caught the attention of local netizens as clouds of volcanic ash and smoke eerily resemble an iconic scene from its own folklore.
The widely shared image, taken by photojournalist Ciriaco Santiago III, is being celebrated online as a representation of an ancient myth featuring tragic lovers Panganoron and Magayon, reports ABS-CBN News.
According to the legend of Mt. Mayon, a woman named Magayon (meaning “beautiful”) ran away with her warrior lover Panganoron to escape her suitor Pagtuga. As the couple made their escape from her father and his tribesmen, a poisoned arrow struck Magayon. Then, as Pangaronon was kneeling over the dying Magayon, a warrior stabbed him from behind.
The tale states that years after their death, Magayon’s father decided to bury her and Pangaronon together. Over time, the ground where the couple was buried began to rise and take the shape of a volcano, which is renowned for its near-perfect cone.
It is believed that when the volcano is about to erupt, Pagtuga is bothering Magayon. Some also believe Pangaronon is hugging Magayon when the volcano is calm, while others say that the two are kissing when clouds emerge at the top.
Santiago’s photo became viral after it was placed side by side with an illustration by artist Kerby Rosanes, which was slightly digitally manipulated to highlight its connection to the Mayon’s creation myth.
Some netizens also pointed out that the broken-hearted pair can be seen in the formations of lava flowing from Mayon’s crater in this video:
Video isn’t mine, if you look closely you’ll see an image of a girl w/c we believed is Magayon (at maganda nga talaga siya). And the Mom said, binabantayan talaga niyan si Mayon, idk I just wanna share it.
— A (@lykaaaaaaaa_) January 15, 2018
Meanwhile, other social media users dismissed the fantastical interpretations of the shapely smoke and lava, stating that the images signify nothing but a warning to nearby residents to evacuate immediately.
As of this writing, about 15,000 people have been evacuated since Mt. Mayon started to show signs of impending eruption last week. Local volcano monitoring agency Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the volcano’s alert level to three on a scale of five.