by Victoria Evarretta
In the world of Philippine Astronomy, would a year be complete without the celebration of the National Astronomy Week every third week of February? No way!
Even as early as August of the previous year, the Philippine Astronomical Society (PAS), as well as other astronomical organizations, start telescoping their celebratory plans for the biggest calendar event of the year for them.
NAW 2012 PAS weeklong activities fell on February 18-25. This year's theme is "Building Quality Astronomy Education Through Local and International Collaboration."
Unlike the previous years, this year, several big institutions/organizations collaborated with the Philippine Astronomical Society for the celebration and fused forces to usher the undeniably biggest, most prepared for, most participated, and most successful National Astronomy Week ever!
The stalwarts of this celebration besides PAS? The National Museum through the National Museum Planetarium, De La Salle University through the De La Salle Physics Society, Samahang Mag-aaral ng Pisika, SkyExplore, The Great Rovers, and the now who-does-not-know NIDO Science Discovery Center of Mall of Asia.
A. Opening Day February 18: National Museum Planetarium
For many years, the Philippine Astronomical Society celebrated the National Astronomy Week at different venues. But this year, it was held at the National Museum Planetarium - its home. Thus, this celebration at NM Planetarium marks a momentous homecoming for the Philippine Astronomical Society.
On Saturday February 18, groups of students/coaches/parents/guests started milling in front of the National Museum Planetarium at 6:30 AM for the 7:30 AM registration of school participants to the different competitions.
The contests were on the following: on-the-spot poster-making (elementary and high school), essay-writing (elementary and high school), photo-essay (high school), two-part Astro Quiz (high school and college) - written elimination and question-and board-raising answer final round.
A total of 31 schools and 251 participants were registered. At 9 AM all contests simultaneously started.
Despite the big gathering of different school groups with several teams each, the registration and contest assignments went smoothly. The entire National Planetarium area was properly filled but not congested; and the coaches, parents, guests had their time viewing the Planetarium exhibits while waiting for the contests to end at 11:30 AM.
The theme for the contests was "How can you as a student promote astronomy in the Philippines?"
The elementary and high school students spread their art materials and 1/8 poster boards on the floor behind the planetarium area and got lost in their on-the-spot poster-making. Ron Aves was in charge of the event. These kids are unbelievably talented and artistic! Why, even in a day or in a week, I doubt it if any of us can equal their artistry if we were made to draw art on the same theme.
The written elimination round of the Astro Quiz was also going on inside the Planetarium area while the contestants of the essay-writing were comfortably seated inside two rooms of the Planetarium. Ian Allas and Margie Parinas took care of the Quiz while Jake Irlandez proctored the two essay-writing groups.
All posters, contest papers, quiz answer materials were previously stamped with the Philippine Astronomical Society logo to safeguard any leakage of possible spurious entries; and only the contestant number corresponding to a master list of names of participants can be seen on the contest entries to avoid any school bias or prejudging.
All went well until one high school poster-making contestant had nose-bleeding. Luckily, we had our medical team at the Planetarium Office to service medical emergencies like this. Dr. Clea Mamaril-Serrano and Dr. Lorie Garcia took care of her. The patient had an extended hour thus for her poster-making to finish her interrupted artwork.
Lunchtime was at 12:00 noon. A food booth four meters from the Planetarium was of service for these lunch and merienda needs.
At lunchtime and even while the contests were going on, Edmund Rosales gave impromptu lectures to students who asked him a barrage of questions in front of the telescope exhibit within the Planetarium. Steffi Rodriguez commented on PAS Facebook account, "I love the mini-lectures of Sir Edmund Rosales."
At 1:30 PM, everyone went back to the Planetarium for the surprise of the day - a free Planetarium show!
The students, especially the kids, squirmed with delight when the lights went out and the universe started to unfold above them. Even the accompanying guests, parents, and teachers were all awe-struck. The gossip of the surprise show started to spread earlier among the parents and they were just as excited as their kids looking forward to the free show. And so it went - all one hour of a trip in space - transporting the audience' imagination to a scientific study and view of the cosmos, something they didn't even dream to be a part of.
After the show, the Astro Quiz question-and-answer final round began. The top ten schools in the Elimination written quiz were first announced and the teams were reseated at the planetarium area for the final round - first with the high school division, followed by the college division.
The top ten schools in the high school level after the elimination round written quiz were the following:
1 - Manila Science High School; 2 - Philippine Science High School; 3 - Santa Lucia High School; 4 - Las Pinas Science High School; 5 - New Era High School; 6 - Pasig City Science High School; 7 - Benigno Aquino High School; 8 - Grace Christian High School; 9 - La Consolacion College; 10 - Cayetano Science and Technology School.
(Thanks to the Philippine Normal University Astronomical Society members for checking the Elimination Round quiz papers.)
C O N T E S T S W I N N E R S
Following are the contests winners to all the competition.
HIGH SCHOOL DIVISION
1st - Manila Science High School
2nd - Pasig City Science High School
3rd - Sen. Renato Cayetano Science and Technology High School
1st - De La Salle University
2nd - Polytechnic University of the Philippines (Team C)
3rd - Polytechnic University of the Philippines (Team B)
1st Jill Chloe Tolentino St. Stephen's High School
2nd Jade Nicole Tan Makati Hope Christian School
3rd Jefferson Chua Chiang Kai Shek College
HIGH SCHOOL DIVISION
1st Jamia Mei Tolentino St. Stephen's High School
2nd John Hervic Madulid San Francisco High School
3rd Jesse del Rosario T. Paez Integrated School
(Please see the winning essay entries on its separate page.)
HIGH SCHOOL DIVISION
1st Steffi Rodriguez Sta. Lucia High School (Pasig)
2nd Jerry Abong Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino High School
3rd Gelina Rose Bongon Muntinlupa Science High School
1st Earle Anderson Ng Makati Hope Christian School
2nd Athena Dominique Yu Grace Christian College
3rd Nathan Lim Chiang Kai Shek College
HIGH SCHOOL DIVISION
1st Claire Nicole Raynon Pasig City Science High School
Tephanie Joy Galpa Pasig City Science High School
2nd Akeimi M. Lopez Sta. Lucia High School
Valeriano C. Onia, Jr. Sta. Lucia High School
3rd John Patrick Famadulan New Era High School
Errol Aaron Merjudio New Era High School
Poster-Making, Essay-Writing, Photo-Essay Contests
1. First prize P3000, old medal, and certificate
2. Second prize P2000, silver medal, certificate
3. Third prize P1000, bronze medal, certificate
1. First prize Trophy, P5000, and individual medals
2. Second prize Trophy, P3000, and individual medals
3. Third prize Trophy, P2000, and individual medals
Note: all cash prizes for the first place winners were donated by Mrs. Nikki Coseteng of Sky Explore! Thank you very much, Ma'am!
Before the awarding of the prizes to the contests winners, the raffle entries were also drawn for the major laptop prize and 10 meteorites.
Following were the winners:
Major prize laptop - Patricia Jane Perey from PCU HS
10 Meteorites - Lolita Rapirap, Quezon City; Malco Dacanay, Makati City; Luica Dacanay, Makati City; Cristopher Irlandez, Valenzuela City; Anthony Arugay, Tuguegarao City; Nestor Marallag, Tuguegarao City; Frances Buenavantura, Antipolo City; Francis Louise Adre, Quezon City; Gamby Sebio, Makati City; Cy M. Rodriguez, Se. Renato Cayetano High School.
Did you know that the major prize winner bought only two tickets before the raffle draw? Jenny Baltazar, who was in charge of this, tried to sell more tickets to the audience before the raffle drawing and Patricia Jane Perey of Philippine Christian University bought two. Bingo! She won the laptop and was so excited of the win that she was shaking when her name was announced and when she claimed the prize.
All PASers were treated to the traditional fellowship dinner at the close of the Opening Day. This time they had it at Shakeys.
B. February 22 - Astronomy/Astrophysics Symposium at De La Salle University
Wow! The De La Salle Physics Society left no stones unturned for this first symposium.
At the University entrance, guests were immediately ushered to the registration table and then were guided to the Pablo Nicolas Hall where the symposium was held. But we were treated first to a catered lunch at their university cafeteria.
The four lecturers all hold PhDs in Astrophysics or Astronomy and are thus superduper topnotch authorities on these fields.
The lone lady in the group, Dr. Reinabelle Reyes, is a summa cum laude BS Physics graduate from Ateneo de Manila University and got her PhD in Astrophysics at Princeton University. She lectured on the "Birth and Death of the Milky Way."
Dr. Rogel Mari Sese, PhD in Astrophysics that he earned from University of Tsukuba in Japan, lectured on "The Formation of Low- and High-Mass Stars."
Dr. Perry Esguerra, who got his PhD at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, lectured on The Search of Extrasolar Planets.
Dr. Martin George, who gave a talk on A Little Black Dot:The Transit of Venus, gained his honors degree in Physics (astronomy) at the University of Tasmania. He is Curator of Astronomy at the Launceston Planetarium and also Fellow and President-Elect of the International Planetarium Society, the world body of planetarium professionals.
See Abstra cts belo w for further information on these four lectures. Also included here are the Abstracts for the other lectures during the Closing Ceremony at Nido Fortified Science Discovery Center at Mall of Asia on February 25, 2012.
Dr. Reinabelle Reyes and Dr. Perry Esguerra lectured from 1:30 to 3:00 PM; then, we had the break and socializing part. An all-you-can-eat snacks of turon, drinks, and sandwich were served outside the lecture room, courtesy of the DLSU Physics Society.
The Symposium resumed after the snacks with 3rd and fourth lectures by Dr. Rogel Sese and Dr. Martin George, respectively, and ending with the Open Forum.
Still undone for the day, a mobile planetarium show for all the guests and speakers was presented by The Great Rovers after the lectures. Allen Yu served as the host to the show that dealt on the planets and constellations, with the presence of Dr. Reinabelle Reyes, Dr. Martin George and his wife, and the De La Salle Physics Dept and Astro Society members.
And guess what? That's not all, folks. Few PASers and the available lecturers were treated to another all-you-can-eat or order dinner at a Chinese Restaurant near De La Salle after the show.
Phew! After this Symposium, we were filled up to the brim intellectually, socially, and gastronomically. Thanks to De la Salle Physics Society and the Samahang Mag-aaral sa Pagpapaunlad ng Pisika.
C. February 25 "2012: The Universe Survives" 2nd Symposium on Astronomy/Astrophysics and Closing Ceremony, Nido Fortified Science Discovery Center at Mall of Asia
Well guys, the second symposium at the NIDO Science Discovery at Mall of Asia was indeed the fitting culmination of the National Astronomy Week celebration.
Attendance to this event though was by invitation and reservation only - first come, first served. Only 100 guests were reserved by the Discovery Center management for the Philippine Astronomical society and guests. And all had to be semi-formal in attire! Bonga! That's something new to any PAS events because we are so used to the casual denims outfit for any activity. It was so nice to see the members in coat and tie or in barong tagalog or Sundays' best wear. Something different and 'cute' to look at.
Special mention to Ike Sanglay, Jr. - our budding 15-year-old astrophysicist from La Union. He was also in coat and tie; but not only that, did you know that he and his mother Eumelia and two teachers came all the way from La Union, a 7-hour ride from Manila, just to be around during this NAW event? They also brought bags of "tupigs" as pasalubongs for everyone. Thank you very much, Mrs. Eumelia Sanglay and Ike. That was very thoughtful of you!
Registration and goofing off before the Symposium event.
The Symposium proper started off at 4:30 PM with a glimpse of the meteorites. A Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony to open the Meteorite collection was done by owner and exhibitor PASer Allen Yu. Three of the biggest meteorites collected in the Philippines were on exhibit along with a photoexhibit of other meteorites in his collection.
All guests proceeded to the Planetarium for the Symposium proper after the meteorite viewing.
An invocation and National Anthem singing immediately followed after all guests were seated. Mr. Arturo Carballo Jr. of Nido Science Discovery Center welcomed everyone, after which the guests were asked to sit back, relax, and enjoy Discovery Center's very latest planetarium show "The Ultimate Universe." This is a 3D planetarium show operated by 7 Digistar 3 Planetarium in the Philippines' FIRST 3d Planetarium.
Then, the lights dimmed for the show not yet shown to the public but first seen and watched at this Closing Ceremony!
How was it? Spectacular and fascinating!!! Oh my God, it's like riding in a ship roaming in space where one's seat takes turns and convolutes. The planets and deep-sky objects appear to be within one's touch and magnified greatly that the "travel" experience is nothing but breathtaking!
State-of-the-art videos and dynamic sounds made this possible through high 3D technology. An experience so mind-boggling that others wanted to see the show again after the dinner.
How lucky and privileged could we be to be the very first witnesses of the 3D premiere showing of the Science Discovery Center's newest cosmic show attraction - The Ultimate Universe!
The two lectures after the show were on how 2012 could not possibly be the end of the world as much-talked about. Before the lectures, however, PAS President ian Allas talked on PAS activities in 2011.
Because Edmund Rosales who was supposed to talk on "Year 2012: Is it Real or Reel... An Anatomy of a Movie" was not around, Dr. Perico Esguerra lectured first on "Beyond 2012: Physics, Astrophysics, and the End of the World As We Know It". A 10-min break followed and then, Engr. Camilo Dacanay lectured on "The Surprising Importance of Earthquakes; Magnetic Field Reversal; and a Tale of a Toasted Planet."
An Open Forum followed after this and ended with the plaque awarding to Dr. Perry Esguerra for his invaluable help and support to the National Astronomy Week and with the Closing Remarks by Engr. Camilo Dacanay.
The most-awaited dinner, courtesy of the Nido Fortified Science Discovery Center, also highlighted the National Astronomy Week 2012 Closing Ceremony.
Not only were the guests during this Closing Ceremony/Public Symposium 2012: The Universe Survives be the very first to see the premiere 3D showing of " The Ultimate Universe" but were also treated to a sumptuous dinner at the front lobby area of the Discovery Center!
What an event this was. The Closing Ceremony was undeniably well-planned and well-prepared; and all NFSDC staff warmly gave their time, services, assistance, and hospitality to everyone present. A fitting Closing Ceremony, indeed, to the National Astronomy Week 2012.
And funny, SM Mall of Asia had its fireworks after the dinner, which seemed to have ended the Closing Ceremony and the National Astronomy Week with a the rigorous big bang!
The Philippine Astronomical Society would like to express their deep thanks to all the participants, parents, coaches, teachers, school administrators, guests, and the Department of Education as a whole.
Special mention to Bel Pabunan and National Museum Planetarium Staff who helped PAS greatly during the Opening Day activities; NM Planetarium artist Cornelio Lagda for being the principal judge in the art contests; Dr. Clea Mamaril Serrano and Dr. Lorie Garcia - our medical team volunteers; Nora Irlandez for her help at registration and judging of essay papers; Jake Irlandez for all the preparatory computer artwork for programs and streamers; the DLSU Physics Society who generously provided lunch, snacks, and dinner during the impressive leaving-no-stones unturned Astrophysics/Astronomy Symposium at De La Salle University; Sky Explore through Madam Nikki Coseteng who donated all the first-place cash prizes; The Great Rovers through Doreen Gutierrez for the mobile planetarium show and big cash donation; Allen Yu for the meteorite exhibit and 10 meteorites for the raffle; the Symposium lecturers - Dr. Reinabelle Reyes, Dr. Martin George, Dr. Perry Esguerra, and Dr. Romar Sese; and to NIDO Science Discovery Center Staff for their grand Closing Ceremony.
Our most special gratitude thus to above collaborators - National Museum, National Museum Planetarium, Samahang Mag-aaral para sa Pagpapaunlad ng Pisika (DLSU Astronomical Society), SkyXplore Mobile Digital Planetarium, D'Great Rovers and Nido Science Discovery Center - who joined forces with us and made the 19th National Astronomy Week a tremendous success!!
Special note: The Philippine Astronomical Society especially during this weeklong celebration has shown the great teamwork among all its officers and members who unselfishly and noncomplainingly dedicated their personal time and resources for the success of the event. A bow to three officers especially: Ian Allas, Hernan Dizon, and Engr. Camilo Dacanay.
Photos by Ronald Tanco, Brian Santiago, Margie Parinas, Jennifer Gutierrez, Stephen Dayandayan, Jake Irlandez, Chary Silva, Allen Yu, Victoria Evarretta