Mount Mayon, the worlds most perfectly formed volcano is showing signs of activity. I've been fortunate to encounter this world wonder, and experience the sheer awe-inspiring grandeur by standing under her slopes - the last time as recently as eighteen months ago.
Then it was just one year after typhoon Reming had caused landslides killing over 700 people and flattening neighbouring villages with a lahar which had formed from an eruption the previous year.
At over 8000ft high she is the Philippines most active volcano and has erupted 47 times in the last 400 years. She sleeps little but dozes often.
The most devastating event was on February 1st, 1814 when the village of Cagsawa was completely buried along with more than 1000 men, women and children.
They sought refuge in the church, and the only thing standing today is it's bell tower. The 2007 typhoon buried the village again. Once again, the tower survived! (In my pic below Mayon in the background is shrouded in cloud).
The current alert level is 2, and if it increases, over 7000 people, now on standby, will have to be evacuated. The beauty and overwhelming presence which Mayon exudes is difficult to express in words. There is an incredible sense of nature's power and she dominates everything around her.
No matter how violent she can be, people return continually to her fertile slopes.
Farmers are reluctant to abandon her for it would mean abandoning their livelihoods also.
The nearest city, less than five miles away, is Legazpi, a hustling, bustling place whose port nestles in the shadow of the volcano.
Driving there from Manila is an arduous 10 hour journey. It's possible to take a flight to Legazpi to see the volcano, without actually entering the city.
This is preferable unless you're planning on sailing across the Albay Gulf or heading off to Donsol to see the whale sharks, as the city itself is a hotch-potch of uncoordinated, uncontrolled and shabby town planning - although for shoppers there are some huge malls to satisfy addictive consumer cravings which seems at odds with the general downtrodden state of the place.
These regular eruptions and typhoons force the south-east Luzon provincial government of Albay in the Bicol region to struggle with maintaining infrastructure, which no doubt accounts for Legazpi City's seeming lack of investment and run down appearance.