Lessons from 1911: Taal Volcano, American Colonialism, and Philippine Disaster Nationalism

When Taal erupted in January of 1911 the Philippines were the largest overseas colony of the United States. Residents on what was then called Bulkan ng Isla—Volcano Island—awoke to a strong earthquake on January 27… Bulkan ng Isla, wrote an observer, “was devastated, not a blade of grass escaping,” and an estimated 1200-2000 people lost their lives. As Taal quieted, a new storm over the American response brewed.