Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Confession of a Filipino Meteorologist

I remember the early days, when I was a young kid. Watching nature wreak havoc outside of our mansion. It is awe inspiring that this force, heavy gusts of wind, sharp droplets of rain and small hail, can cause immediate destruction.

The Philippines has experienced it all, and the typhoons will come more and more.

Such fascination led to me to go to trips locally and around the world. I visited the PAGASA office sometime maybe thrice, I observed how they worked, and befriended Dr. Nilo.

You thought he is just an ordinary bloke, but some of his peers call him the 'human barometer.' There was this one time we were drinking, and he told he will leave early. I asked him why, and he told that it will rain hard, I checked outside and the weather seems to be fine. It did rain afterwards, and I called him and asked his secret:

"It is no secret, keen observation and respecting nature and incorporating into our daily habit is what I do. Just stand outside and observe the sky, the wind, the raindrops, all of these are taken into account. You know already we do not have expensive high tech equipment. So me and some of my colleagues use ourselves 'our own bodies' for this."

"We are sacrificing ourselves here, since we have no equipment to gather data, we go outside to gather it ourselves. That is battling intense heat, typhoons, we check also for air quality and even rain quality, etc. etc. We told everyone that machines can do this, we cannot play our lives with nature. I actually asked someone to do it for me with my whole salary as compensation - no one dared to do it. Nobody has the passion to do what I do. And what I asked is to OBSERVE! A basic scientific methodology/process."

"By the way, I have to leave. You know already why, because of the stress at work before, my health deteriorated. I have lots of medicines to buy which is hard to budget. My family is getting worried too and I have 2 kids, I want the best for them. My flight is next week going to Japan. They told me they will set up some tsunami warning beacon there. And they recognize my talents and skills, I won't let this opportunity escape."

"Don't worry. I will still interpret the climate data gathered from the sensors we installed around the country and nearby coastlines. I was ashamed last time that we are using an old hygrometer from the 1960's. That is why the readings are always 'normal.' It is good you funded these new sensors, now we are able to interpret the weather more accurately. I can even check it online."

"Take care always, I'll send you an email when I arrive."

Now, we have to brace ourselves. Even though we have the latest technology, if there are no people who are passionate enough in this profession, there is no way we can predict our own weather.

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