Posted on August 20, 2018
We held a conference in Astrophysics on August 15 to 17, 2018 at the 10th Floor of the Senator Neptali A. Gonzales Academic Hall. The conference was attended by students and faculty members from Mapua University, New Era University, RizalTech, and by astronomers from the Astronomical League of the Philippines. Among the noted speakers were Prof. Mkrtichian David from the Odessa National University in Ukraine, Dr. Reynabelle C. Reyes Filipino scientist and astrophysicist from Princeton University and Ateneo De Manila University, Prof. Boonrucksar Soonthurntum of NARIT and Chiangmai University, and Dr. Custer Deocaris, Chief of the CHED Research Management Division and a Balik Scientist. The topics ranged from photometric and spectroscopic methods of studying exoplanets, to the study of the chromospheres of eclipsing binary systems, to research directions in Astronomy and Astrophysics.
On August 17, 2018, together with Prof. Boonrucksar Soonthurntum, who is fondly called by the RTU students as Prof. Boon, and the NARIT scientists, we visited the highland campus of the Bataan Peninsula State University in Abucay, Bataan for a short program. This was attended by members of the indigenous community. The purpose of the visit was to prepare for the holding of the Ethnoastronomy Workshop to be hosted by the BPSU sometime in October or November, 2018 in colaboration with NARIT and the History of Astronomy Section of the South East Asian Astronomy Network (SEAAN) where we expect the attendance of the leading astronomers in this field, particularly Prof Wayne Orchiston from Australia and Prof. Duane Hamacher from New Zealand.
Thereafter, the three of us, Prof. Soonthurntum, President Gregorio Rodis of BPSU, and myself, signed a MOA for collaboration between the NARIT, the RTU, and the BPSU for collaboration in Astronomy research and activities.
In his talk, Dr. Deocaris lamented the lack of government support to Astronomy particularly in money. Dr. Deocaris, however, knows that to earn the respect of the scientific community and the bureaucracy, we must keep on working hard to gain recognition for the science of Astronomy, in its relevance to nation-building and progress. Having two aspects, the theoretical and the applied, Astronomy pushes the frontiers of human knowledge in the theoretical field as the data it generates will be useful to the survival of the human race in the far—or near—future. Its applied aspect allows us to apply the knowledge to weather monitoring, earthquake prediction, education, space science, technological progress through the inevitable infusion of robotics, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, medical science and many other fields to the “mother” science of Astronomy.
Anyway, funding may have started in earnest upon approval by the DOST of the grant of the RizalTech as the Niche Center for R & D under its NICER Program. The RizalTech has been awarded with PhP 32,716,361.00 for our research proposals. But I will submit a separate report on this to the Honorable Board of Regents.
What I pray for is that the Board should continue to encourage and support the development of Astronomy in the RizalTech—even when I am no longer President. We are the lighthouse in this field, the oasis for the thirst of our people in this science. Through our researches we contribute to the sum total of human knowledge, tiny it may seem, but a contribution nevertheless.
Through Astronomy and our telescopes we develop the interest and the love of a lot of young people to science. They are our inspiration.