Last June 4, one of my orgmates in U.P. AstroSoc told us the sad news that Dr. Dante L. Ambrosio, a former adviser of our organization and a notable promoter of Philippine Ethnoastronomy, has already passed away.
Dr. Ambrosio – a History professor of the College of Social Science and Philosophy in U.P. Diliman – was considered by many as the “Father of Philippine Ethnoastronomy”. He has proven this through a lot of his works regarding the field, including his book entitled, “Balatik: Katutubong Bituin ng mga Pilipino” which discusses our very own version of the constellations and interpretation of the skies which were developed by our early Filipino ancestors. Just like the other early civilizations, they made the sky part of their culture and consult them as they go on with their everyday lives (as in determining the propitious times for planting, fishing and hunting).
Balatik which is an equivalent of the constellation Orion, is a local term that means a trapping device used by hunters.
Dr. Ambrosio spent a considerable amount of time interviewing the Badjaos of Tawi-tawi in an effort to record the rich knowledge retained by the elders of indigenous communities which may be lost if not passed on to the next generation.
The following were also his written articles that were published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI):
- “Balátik and Moropóro : Stars of Philippine skies” – February 2, 2008
- “‘Mamahi:’ Stars of Tawi-tawi” - January 26, 2008
- “Eclipse and the Snake in the Sky: Bakunawa and Laho” - February 8, 2009
A lot of Filipinos around the country were still not familiar with our local astronomy culture, that’s why Dr. Ambrosio’s works on Ethnoastronomy were really commendable. I salute him for being an outstanding Filipino in the field of astronomy who gave valuable and inspiring contributions in promoting our own culture and developing a sense of pride among fellow countrymen.
It’s too bad that my friend who was supposed to interview him for her thesis didn’t got the chance to meet him again.
Nonetheless, he and his works will always leave a mark on our hearts. I hope that more Filipinos will be interested to continue what he had already started and will keep on promoting astronomy in the Philippines just the way he did.
I know that Dr. Ambrosio is now among the stars in the heavens now.
And for sure, he will always be missed.