The First Weather Forecasters In The Philippines

PAGASA or the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration becomes the Philippines’ forerunner in weather forecasting as is created by the government on December 8,1972 through the Presidential Decree No. 78. But, before this government agency begin giving the public about the condition of the weather, forecasting was already been done more than century ago.

Because of the world’s largest typhoon (Haiyan - Yolanda) that  that devastated many areas of the Philippine Archipelago, the center of attention was again turned to our weather bureau. But do you know who was the first person who gives us the weather forecast and to which university did he comes from?

Even before the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration or PAGASA was founded, it was said that the weather forecasting was first made by Francisco Colina, a Jesuit scholar and a Math and Physics Professor at Ateneo Municipal de Manila. They started to study the weather patterns using

old instruments in weather forecasting.

And in the year 1865, Colina had started the scientific study and plotting of the weather patterns in two or three times in a each day. Colina got his help from a co-Jesuit scholar named Jaime Nonell which printed it in the newspaper named Diario de Manila.

The efforts made by Colina and Nonell caught the attentions of business and trading community as well as merchants and sailors in Manila. These people knew the importance of the task made by the two Jesuits scholars that they had requested to Fr Juan Vidal, the Jesuit Superior, to made the weather forecasting a regular task so that the public will be given warning about an upcoming storms and typhoons.

But Colina and Nonell had doubts themselves to take the task because they feared that they may not be able to give the correct weather patterns and conditions because they

are using old instruments to do it. Knowing this, the businessmen took the effort to buy modern equipments from Europe. Among this is the modern equipment called “Universal Meteograph” which was invented by another Jesuit named Fr Angelo Seechi of the Vatican Observatory. During those times, the said equipment is one of the most accurate and advance equipment in weather plotting and forecasting.

 In the next year that pass, Colina and Nonell added its third member by the name of Fr Federico Fauna, S.J. which becomes the leader of the “Boletin del Observatorio de Manila”. The weather forecasting in the whole Philippine archipelago was then requested by other businessmen in other parts of the country when Colina’s group accurately predicted a typhoon in 1879.

Because of the increasing demand from many sectors of society about the weather condition and forecasting, Colina’s group work of weather forecasting becomes an institution and the Manila Observatory was founded in April of 1894. This was done through a Royal Decree which was supported by the Spanish Government in the Philippines.

Author’s note: Another compiling story and history of my motherland and its citizens.

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