"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust..."
April 30, 2005 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Raymundo Punongbayan, Retired Philippine Volcanology Chief Dies in a Chopper Crash. They were unschooled; he was a scientist. But when the Aeta of Zambales province reported through a nun Mount Pinatubo's initial signs of unrest in April 1991, Dr. Raymundo Punongbayan listened and trusted their indigenous mastery of their environment. It was through that mutual faith between the Aeta tribesmen and Punongbayan that efforts to save lives began for what turned out to be the world's worst volcanic eruption in the second half of the 20th century.
posted by azul (5 comments total)
This seems a bit obscure at first, but on second thought it's certianly more relevant that Michael Jackson's trial. And way more interesting. Sort of reminds me how the indigenous islanders of Indonesia (or was it Thialand) were able to escape the reach of the tsunami because their oral tradition warned them about the significance of a receding tide.
posted by mert at 9:22 PM on April 30, 2005

My parents got evacuated out of Clark Air Base, which was 12 miles from Mt. Pinatubo. It was my home for 13 years. Good memories along with sad. Thanks for the good post and info.
posted by alteredcarbon at 11:13 PM on April 30, 2005

Dr. Punongbayan's PHIVOLC saved thousands of lives by
correctly forecasting the Pinatubo eruption. It gave me
something to think about in this era of efficient, widespread,
premeditated bloodletting.
I remember the sudden onset of brilliant red sunsets after
the Pinatubo eruption. The light show would be most
visible about 45 minutes after local sunset. These sunsets
happened every night thereafter for about 6 months in the
San Francisco Bay area.
From the excellent USGS url in the post, it appears the
Pinatubo sunsets were caused by 17 megatons of
SO2 injected into the stratosphere, yielding approximately
25 megatons of persistent sulfuric acid/water aerosol.
All along I thought it was dust. Thanks, azul.
posted by the Real Dan at 7:40 AM on May 1, 2005

You are quite welcome. It is my humble way of honoring this compatriot; a scientist and a rare breed of bureaucrat in a corruption-riddled country.

As a recent editorial in a local paper said: "His death was all the more tragic because he perished together with other upstanding Filipinos, including Phivolcs' chief geologist, who had turned down lucrative offers abroad to serve in government, and an Air Force pilot, who agreed to captain the mission even though he was officially on leave. All nine died after completing an "aerial assessment" of landslide danger zones..."
posted by azul at 8:48 AM on May 1, 2005

posted by schyler523 at 10:51 AM on May 1, 2005

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