TAAL, Batangas—While residents have been barred from returning to their homes in this town, one of the at-risk zones around Taal Volcano, officials and watchmen of neighboring villages decided against leaving to fulfill their duties.
Rodelio Mendoza, a councilman of Taal's Barangay Zone 12, said he — along with 15 of his counterparts from Barangays 3, 8, and 9 — stayed behind to guard their neighbors' houses from thieves.
Some also cleaned houses filled with mud from the Taal ash fall and rains.
"Bilang mga barangay official, kami pa naman inaalagaan namin ang kanilang mga bahay, dahil baka sila'y pagnakawan. May ibang bayan na napagnakawan ng hayop, mga gamit sa bahay," Mendoza said.
"Sa araw ay tulog, sa gabi kami po ay gising."
They stationed themselves at a common multi-purpose hall in between their areas of responsibility. With electricity still cut off, it is run by a generator. At night, they have flashlights to patrol the streets.
Mendoza said they were granted permission by authorities enforcing the lockdown to stay behind.
Should the volcano erupt again, they each have motorcycles to ride to safety.
He said he has seen worse, having lived through the 1965 eruption of Taal Volcano.
While police are stricter at residents violating the lockdown, Mendoza and his colleagues are more lenient with those they chance upon returning to their homes.
He said residents only drop by to feed their pets and livestock and then go back to the evacuation centers.