Taal Lake (and Volcano) is the heart of Batangas!
According to Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles, it was His Emminence, Gaudencio Cardinal B. Rosales who has implanted this in the minds of Batanguenos. That is the reason that the official logo of the Archdiocese and many Catholic institutions always include this God-given gift of nature that belongs to the 7 wonders of the world. The same Lake cum Volcano finds its way to many a government logo, making it the identity of Batangas, alongside the famous balisong.
Ironically, it took an outsider to come up with the brilliant idea of a Marian Regatta to be held around the Lake and Volcano. The date set is September 8, the Church’s date for the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The local church authorities, led by our outspoken Archbishop, saw this as an opportune kick-off event in preparation for the well-established Marian Pilgrimage to Lipa to culminate on September 12. This year is the 9th of such event which aims to pray for world peace and reconciliation, and the sanctification of the Clergy, calling on the intercession of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace. This is a devotion surprisingly more actively attractive for the people in Mindanao and Northern Luzon. This year a group of around 150 Malaysians informed the organizers that they will be coming to pay tribute to the Lady, whose alleged appearance in 1949 to 1950 has caused a stir in the local church, reaching the very halls of Vatican.
This is not only a religious event; it is cultural as well. Taal Lake cum its volcano is a money-maker. Local and foreign tourists usually flock to Tagaytay City, who actively sells and earn from the Taal scenery. Tagaytay makes money from a Batangas property. That is why a year back, it was erroneously reported that our Governor Star-for-all-Seasons planned to build a marker ala-Hollywood to declare and remind everybody that this is Batangas Province’s landmark and not Tagaytay’s. Admittedly, Tagaytay has the better view from atop.
What made Archbishop Ramon Arguelles agree at once to the proposal of a Marian Regatta is the fact that this occasion can very well be an evangelization event. After all he has called for a Decade of Evangelization and Renewal, following the Ruby Jubilee of the Archdiocese.
It is timely to remind Batanguenos of how they have mis-used and abused this God-given gift to us. The regatta which would entail a procession around the Volcano, moving clockwise from some 12 or 13 points around the Lake while reciting prayers invoking the Almighty to spare Taal (and the whole of Batangas Province) from the destructive activities of the very people to whom this was entrusted for them to use and enjoy.
While the local church fully supports the provincial government’s drive against illegal fish cages and other unlawful practices by the so-called legal ones, the Archdiocese maintains that there should be no commercial and big-time fish cages at all to maintain the freshness of the waters, home to indigenous tawilis and maliputo. The local church frowns at the burgeoning fishing industry in the area, which grows tilapia and bangus, and other species posing danger to the native fish of Taal Lake.
Care for environment is what this regatta highlights, aside from the devotional aspect of the event. This first-time activity is jointly sponsored by the church, the provincial and local governments, and the private sector, including the resort owners around the lake. This writer prays that Batanguenos see beyond the religious and cultural aspects of the regatta. This should put our feet on the ground and see the importance of taking good care of Taal Lake! Otherwise, its volcano might take an active part in reminding us of our responsibility – to keep Taal Lake clean, productive and aesthetically picturesque!