Dubbed as the second-largest volcano eruption of the decade (1990-2000), the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo still remains a nightmare to Filipino families – even those who were not directly affected by it.
It was a fine and sunny day on the 15th of July 1991 when the sky suddenly turned dark and gray sending people into a chaotic moment of trying to run away from the disaster and saving their own lives.
During this time, photojournalist Albert Garcia was one of the few in the media industry who was courageous enough to take on the difficult challenge of covering the drastic eruption of the huge volcano.
In his interview with Inquirer, Garcia recalls that during the major eruption, he and his team were about 20 to 30 kilometers away from the mouth of the volcano. They immediately jumped into their car in an effort to stay away from the raging volcano.
When he turned back, he saw this blue pick-up truck ahead of the wall of gray smoke. So, being the photographer that he is, he quickly took out his camera, (which during that time was still a film camera) and took snaps of the majestic view before his eyes.
Although he was only able to take 8 shots, he decided to rewind his entire roll of film and had it safely hidden in his pocket.
In his own words, Garcia said, “When I took the picture, my heart didn’t stop, it beat so fast and my body was shaking. I knew we might die and before I die, I wanted to tell a story using my camera.”
True enough, the said photo become iconic as it was recognized in several photography competitions across the world. In 1992, it won first place in the World Press Photo Competition in Amsterdam.
In 2001, it was included in the book called “100 Best Pictures” published by the National Geographic Magazine. In the same year, it was also featured in “Time: Great Images of the 20th Century,” a book published by Time magazine. In 2014, it was also included in “32 Heart-Stopping Moments You Can Only Experience Thanks To A Camera,” by the Huffington Post.
Now, even after 30 years since this photo was taken, it still remains as iconic as it was before and still portrays the same intensity of emotions that the people felt during that time.