06 - 08 - 17
Rizal Technological University News


Posted on June 8, 2017

When I was in Chiang Mai last May, I met Prof. Wayne Orchiston. He was one of the lecturers in our workshop on the field techniques in Ethnoastronomy. The first thing he told me is about the need of English translation of the late Dante L. Ambrosio’s classic work and he asked if I could translate it! I finally got a copy of the book Balatik, Etnoastronomiya, Kalangitan sa Kabihasnang Pilipino, yesterday (June 7, 2017) through the efforts of Maria Rose Ann Bautista. I eagerly flipped through the pages and started reading some paragraphs while mentally translating them into English. I told myself this is going to be a big job.

Prof. Dante L. Ambrosio in the Rizal Technological University

Nonetheless, reading the book gives one ideas. I hardly got through the first page when I thought of writing this article. Why do we get interested in Astronomy?

Dante Ambrosio writes:

“Bata pa ako ng unang mahalina sa langit. Naakit ako ng bughaw nitong kulay na unti-unting pumupusyaw habang bumababa sa abot-tanaw. Hanggang ngayon may mga pagkakataong nagpapalipas pa rin ako ng oras sa pagmamasid sa nagbabagong anyo ng mga ulap. Narahuyo rin ako sa tila paglalaro ng mga kulay ng langit at ulap sa pagsikat at paglubog ng araw. Sadya ko itong inaabangan lalo’t nasa labas ako ng Maynila. Sa gabi, inaaliw naman ako ng buwan at ng maraming nagkikislapang bituin. Ilang panahon pa ang lumipas bago ko nalamang may iba pang rikit at misteryo ang langit bukod sa mga ito.”

Translated into English, it should go like this:

“I was still very young when I was first fascinated by the heavens. I was attracted to its blue colour which faded slowly as twilight approaches. Until now there are times when I while away the time looking at the changing shapes of the clouds. I was also attracted to the seeming play of colors in the sky and in the clouds during sunrise and sunset. I wait for these whenever I am outside of Manila. At nights, the Moon and the many twinkling stars comfort me. Some time passed before I realized that there is beauty and mystery in the sky more than these.”

The generations which look up at the sky may be on their way to extinction if we do not do something. The attention of our young people is constantly being taken captive by the cellphone, the laptop, the social media, and by changing lifestyles. The night sky is almost gone in the city. Light pollution makes the things that we can see in the sky extinct.

Astronomers must do something fast. There is no time to lose.

Dante Ambrosio further writes:

“Oktubre 1965 ng una akong makakita ng kometa. Nagaaral ako noon sa Philippine Science High School at nakatira sa dormitory nito sa UP Village, Quezon City. Kaunti pa ang mga bahay rito, at may burol pa. Isang madaling-araw, umakyat kami ng aking mga kadormitoryo sa isang burol para tignan ang Kometa Ikeya-Seki, isa sa pinakamaliwanag na kometa ng siglo 20. Kapwa pagkamangha at pagkabahala ang naramdaman ko. Namangha ako sa angkin nitong kariktan ngunit nabahala naman sa tila panghihimasok nito sa karaniwang larawan ng langit. Noon tumindi ang pagnanais kong tuklasin pa ang ibang ‘lihim’ ng langit. Noon ako nagsimula ng maging stargazer at amateur astronomer.”

In English, it should go like this:

“I first saw a comet in October of 1965. I was then studying in the Philippine Science High School and was living at its dormitory in UP Village in Quezon City. There were still few houses and there were hills. During an early morning before the Sun rose, myself and my dorm mates climbed a hill to look at Comet Ikeya-Seki, one of the brightest comets of the 20th century. I was both amazed and bothered. I was amazed by its natural beauty but bothered for its seeming intrusion on the appearance of the sky. I started feeling a strong desire to know more about the ‘secrets’ of the heavens, and I became a stargazer and amateur astronomer after this experience.”

Comet Ikeya-Seki, http://www.daviddarling.info

I also saw a comet when I was in the elementary grades, but I could not recall when that was exactly and what its name was. It could be the same Ikeya-Seki. I remember I really made an effort to look for it. In one of our science classes (in Grade 4 maybe) I was asked by my teacher to draw a comet on the board. It looked like this:

When I asked some of the students and faculty of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences their passion for Astronomy could have been triggered by childhood interest or they were inspired by some people, or perhaps due to just plain chance. Pauline Divinagracia kept on looking at the APOD when she was 14 which prompted her mother to look for a school which offers Astronomy and so she found the RizalTech. Ramcis Allen Chan initially wanted to be a meteorologist but saw the first three Astronomy graduates of the RizalTech on TV, namely Lordnico Mendoza, Chito Coronel, and Kelvin Martinez. Ramcis was inspired to take up Astronomy himself.

Kelvin Martinez when he was 6 years old kept on asking his grandfather about that band of light they see on the shores of Laguna De Bay in Pillilla, Rizal during evenings. It was the Milky Way, and it developed in him his lifelong interest in Astronomy. Ryan Guido was inspired by no less than one of the pillars of Astronomy in the RizalTech, Dr, Ruby-Ann Dela Cruz when he saw her using the Astroscan in the Quadrangle studying the Sun. Jason Kalaw wished to be an architect but changed his mind and took up Astronomy and only then realized that he discovered his passion.

Jhan Jhan Abel owed it to one of his teachers who asked him to report on Astronomy. Evan Formentera developed his interest in Astronomy when his mother gave him a gift of a set of books in science which developed his interest in the planets. Maria Rose Ann Bautista discovered her interest in Astronomy when she got late in enrolling in Civil Engineering in the RizalTech and found herself in Astronomy instead.

They are all in the RizalTech now.

First Appeared on Rizal Technological University

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