WHEN DO WE FIRST BECOME AWARE OF ASTRONOMY?

 06 - 14 - 17
Rizal Technological University News

WHEN DO WE FIRST BECOME AWARE OF ASTRONOMY?

JUNE 14, 2017

Prof. Dante Ambrosio tells us the story of how he got interested in Ethnoastronomy. In a way, this is similar to our own experiences. I remember having brought the old geological alidade that happened to arrive at our home brought by my father to an open-air restaurant in a place called Rotonda in Pasig City to see the blood-red lunar eclipse that happened on May 4, 1985.

The geological alidade at home looks very similar to this. I used to see the Moon and some stars through this when I was young. It has been on the window of our house since I cannot remember when anymore. It is still there. This instrument developed me in a life-long passion for Astronomy.

Prof. Ambrosio in the following account tells us about how he realized that Filipinos have their own way of looking at the stars and have their own unique method of astronomy. I have translated the account myself:

“Noong 1982 una kong nabasa ang salaysay ng buhay ni Magbangal ng mga Bukidnon. Noon ko natuklasan na may sarili palang pangalan sa mga bituin ang mga Pilipino. Dati ko nang alam ang Tatlong Maria at Supot ni Hudas ng mga Tagalog na itinuro sa akin ng aking lola. Narinig ko na rin ang Krus na Bituin at Koronang Tinik, bagaman di ko pa ito nakita noon. Alam kong mga katawagang Kristiyano ang mga ito kaya di ko gaanong bingyang-pansin. Pero ng malaman kong may sariling bituin ang mga Teduray na kinilala pa ni Schlegel ayon sa katawagan ng modernong astronomiya, saka ko napag-isip: may sariling bituin ang mga Pilipino! Mayroon din kaya silang masasabing tradisyon ng astronomiya? Ito ang tanong ko sa isang artikulo sa Diliman Review. Pinagsama-sama ko roon ang mga tuklas nina Cole, Schlgel, at Casino ukol sa mga katutubong bituin. Noon nagsimulang magkaroon sa akin ng halaga ang katutubong kaalaman ukol sa langit at sa mga penomeno rito, lalo na ang mga bituin. Noon din nagkaroon sa akin ng katuturan ang Tatlong Maria at Supot ni Hudas ng mga Tagalog.” (Ambrosio, p. 1-2)

“It was in 1982 when I read for the first time the story of the life of the Magbangal of the Bukidnons. It was then that I discovered that Filipinos have their own names for the stars. I have known the ‘Tatlong Maria’ and the ‘Supot ni Hudas’ of the Tagalogs from the stories told me by my grandmother. I have also heard about the ‘Krus na Bituin’ and the ‘Koronang Tinik’, though I have not yet seen them then. I did not pay much attention to them because I knew that they were Christian names. But when I learned that the Teduray had their own stars which Schlegel himself recognized as corresponding with modern astronomy designations, then I thought, Filipinos have their own stars! Would they also have their own version of astronomy? I asked this question in one article I wrote for the Diliman Review. There I gathered the discoveries of Cole, Schlegel, and Casino on native Filipino stars. It was then when the native knowledge about the heavens and its phenomena began to have importance to me, especially regarding the stars. It was then also when the Tatlong Maria and the Supot ni Hudas of the Tagalogs assumed meaning to me.”

(Note: The Tatlong Maria can be translated into “Three Marys” while the Supot ni Hudas can be translated into “Bag of Judas” or “Pouch of Judas”. This is supposed to be the pouch or small bag where the 30 pieces of silver given to Judas as payment for his betrayal of Jesus Christ was placed.)

I asked Ryan Guido, the Chairman of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences of the RizalTech to find out if the students know the Tatlong Maria and the Supot ni Hudas. Kelvin Martinez interviewed 20 students with ages ranging from 18 to 21 years. Sixteen of them said they know the Supot ni Hudas as the Pleiades but five of these sixteen also know its other appellation as the “Rosario” or Rosary. I also knew since I was very young the “Rosario” but not the “Supot ni Hudas”.

All of the twenty students know the “Tatlong Maria” as the Orion’s Belt. We can be assured that these students will pass on to their descendants these appellations.

First Appeared on Rizal Technological University

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