Nature is cruel. It seems even crueler when you know the place that is being devastated — like New South Wales and Victoria — the victims of ravaging fire, and Lake Taal in Batangas.

Lake Taal is a drive of about an hour and a half from Manila in the province of Batangas. A trip there typically makes for a pleasant diversion that underscores how much more there is to see and do in the Philippines when you can venture outside of Manila. But now the volcano has come to life, with devastating results.

When I first went to Lake Taal, there . . .

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