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.
“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”
– Excerpted from The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean, Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980
Yesterday, Nov. 6, 2010, a lot of people from different communities and organization joined the celebration of the Second Annual CARL SAGAN DAY. This event was launched by a local coalition of science and reason-based organizations to celebrate his legacy at the 76th anniversary of his birth (November 9, 1934), and to increase public involvement in the excitement of astronomy and space exploration.
Several activities, like workshops, talks, a 5-k run, science displays, games, showings, etc. were included in this event to encourage public participation. There was even a live streaming of the talks by different speakers on some astronomy and cosmology topics so that people from other parts of the globe could also participate.
Dr. Carl Sagan was a Professor of Astronomy and Space Science and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He served as an advisor and consultant to NASA, and played a major role in the establishment of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). He was a Pulitzer Prize winning author and most familiar to the public through his COSMOS series on PBS. In addition to numerous awards, recognitions and honorary degrees for his outstanding contributions, he is acknowledged as one of the most effective public faces of astronomy and space science throughout the world. Sagan died in December 1996.
No other scientist has been able to reach and teach so many non-scientists in such a meaningful way. In fact, the National Science Foundation declared that his “research transformed planetary science… his gifts to mankind were infinite” in their posthumous award to Dr. Sagan.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
The beautiful intro to the Cosmos television series. Carl Sagan talks about the universe and our place within it.
To Dr. Carl Sagan, astronomer, astrophysicist, author, cosmologist, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences, thank you for all your works and contributions, especially for making us appreciate beauty of this vast universe and for sharing how special our world is. 😀