Tragic Mistake on February 1, 1814

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Rehabilitation, considering the magnitude of the catastrophe came very slowly. Fr. Aragoneses rushed to Manila and organized a relief center for the victims, but taking into consideration the normal slow pace of such operations and the distance from Manila, what he was able to gather from the good-hearted inhabitants of the capital city did not reach the victims until months later - too late for many of the victims.

When Fr. Aragoneses returned from Manila, the local authorities had already decided to relocated the survivors in a place they could both insure their safety and provide them their good land where they once more put up their houses and till the land. They seemed to have been only two alternatives: Putiao and Daraga. After some hesitation, Daraga was chosen as the best place.

We are unable to describe life in what we could not call New-Cagsawa during the first years of its existence at the food of the hill of Daraga. All we know is that a new months were enough to convince the government and ecclesiastical authorities that the decision, due to the dynamism of the people of Daraga, was irreversible, for in few months, Daraga became a real and normal town. The convento and the church, the present imposing and artistic church, were already completed as early as 1836, when Fr. Manuel de Jesus Maria, who had served the people of Daraga as parish priest since 1816, passed away.

After the church was completed, the Daragueñous concentrated their efforts on social developments, and, led by a very dynamic and dedicated parish priest, Fr. Vicente Lilio, built a modern draining system for their town, constructed dams and canals for irrigation purposes in 1851, and built a good number of bridges along the roads going to Camalig and Albay, thus making commuting between these towns faster and safe. With these improvements, Daraga soon recovered its former wealth and fame, and entered a new ear of progress, far enough from the Mayon to be safe in case of future eruptions, yet now so far as to be deprived of its fascinating sight.

It was with accuracy, therefore, that the well-known German traveler and naturalist, Fedor Jagor, after visiting Daraga in 1860, described it as a "well-to-do town of twenty thousand inhabitants." Jagod rented a house in Daraga to serve as his base for hos exploration and study of Mayon Volcano. His stay in Daraga was supposed to be a rather short one, but during his climb of the volcano, he sprained one of hos feet so badly that he was forced to stay in Daraga for a month. This enabled him to know well the Daragueñous and to observe their way of life.

"Monday and Friday evenings," the German traveler wrote, "were the Daraga market nights, and during fine weather these always give a pretty sight. The women, neatly and cleanly clad, sat on long rows of benches and offered their provisions for sale by the light of hundreds of torches; and when the business was over, the slopes of the mountains were studded all over with flickering little points of brightness processing from the torches carried by the homeward market women. Besides eatables, many had silk and stuffs woven from the fiber of pineapple and banana for sale. These goods they carried on their heads; and I noticed that all the younger woman were accompanied by their beaus, who relieved them of their burdens."

On July 24, and 25, 1897, the Daragueñous experienced a new violent eruption of the volcano, reminiscent of the tragic one of 1814. It was so powerful that people left the town en masse and fled to the neighboring mountain barrios, though no considerable damages seem to have been caused by this new display of fury by the Mayon.

Sanchez, Cayetano, OFM. "A Town Called Daraga". 
DPI Bulletin Vol. I No. 7. 
7 September 1976. Print

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