Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

Dr. Dante L. Ambrosio and Ethnoastronomy in the Philippines

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):

I had the honor of meeting Dr. Ambrosio once when I was still an officer of my organization, U.P. AstroSoc and we  invited him to discuss Philippine Ethnoastronomy for our Alternative Classroom Learning Experience (ACLE) presentation last August 2008.

U.P. AstroSoc’s ACLE 2008 Poster
 Taking from how he discussed the topic, I can honestly say that Dr. Ambrosio was very passionate with his research. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to talk to him personally after the event.
Dr. Ambrosio during the ACLE last 2008

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. 

4 responses

  1. -jen

    once o twice q lng n meet c prof., pro dahil s galing nya y tlang ntandaan q xa… WE WILL MISS YOU PROF. DANTE.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm

  2. Thank you for sharing this post! My mother is an amateur astronomer who will be pleased to know of Dr. Ambrosio’s research and I am a performance storyteller eager to share these tales from heritage with others!

    June 21, 2011 at 11:51 am

  3. melchor e. orpilla

    Good day Sir, may i share also the old knowledge of our ancestors about constellation in Pangasinan. I hope it can be of help. thank you. I posted this in one of our blogs in Pangasinan.

    Pangasinan Blog


    January 4, 2008
    Banwa, Bulan tan Bitewen

    Mel Orpilla posted in the Ulupan na saray taga-Pangasinan’s Yahoo! group about an endeavor to collate and collect Pangasinan words regarding astronomical bodies. This will eventually be sent to PAGASA. You may send your contributions to pangasinanblog@gmail.com or to ulupannasaraytagapangasinan@yahoogroups.com.

    Here are examples as contributed by Mel Orpilla:
    1. kabuntatala- samay marlang a bitewen ed dapit letakan sakbay ya ombutay so banwa.
    2. Bitewen Babuy- say planitan Venus.
    3. Makoyot- abasak yad lunario ya ikukuan ton ambalanga yan bitewen, nayarin samay planitan Mars iya, sukayan ti oa yan maong.
    4. Mananipor o Manipor- Saya may bitewen ya onkikilat ed dapit seslekan sakbay ya onselek so banwa.
    5. Nanikol a Bitewen- samay komita, no say ikol to kono et pinmatagey, maong so ipaniring ton panaon, no say ikol to et nipabenlag ed liwang, delap o baleg a danum, no singa panis ya usdong so ikol to baleg a okol, o antokaman ya baleg ya pakateyay dakel a totoo.
    6. Makabangles- samay bitewen ya marlang ed dapit sagur ya wadman ni anggan ombubutay lay banwad letakan.
    7. Balais- saray bibitewen ta anibokel na signon sagitario, amta la ya manaya na atateng tin immuna sakbay na indateng day kakastila.
    8. Maopo- Siete Cabrillas ed salitay kastila, pitoran ankelag a kanding? pisokisok ti pa ya no duga, saramay matalabit ed kastila. . .
    9. Bitwag a Simbangan- bibitewen irayan walad otel na leetay amianen tan abalaten, samay nansuldungan da, sirin wala yad petepetek na liwang.
    10. Betewen Baluto- kaparparay baluto, agko amta no iner so kipanatan to ya ed liwang, tepeten ti pa ray matatakken, tan amin da la ray wadia, no panon tayon idatak pian dia tayo napamintuaan ya atagey so panagnonot iray atateng tin inmuna.
    11. Babay Buwaya- saray polok na bibitewen ed leksab na signon Tauro.

    June 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    • Hi Sir Melchor,

      Wow, this is great po. Thanks for sharing. Perhaps, Dr. Ambrosio would be really glad if only he had seen this.


      June 20, 2011 at 9:33 pm

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