Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration
|Address:||Science Garden Complex, Agham Road, Diliman, Quezon City|
|Acting Director:||Martin F. Rellin, Jr.|
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (or PAGASA), is a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) national service institution. It provides public weather forecasts and advisories, warnings for floods, giant waves and typhoons, meteorological, astronomical, climatological, and other scientific information and services to protect life and property and support the economy, productivity and development of the country.
Mission and Vision
The primary mission of PAGASA is to protect life and property against natural hazards due to typhoons, floods, drought, giant waves, high seas, etc., by utilizing scientific knowledge and instruments to ensure the safety, economic security and quality of life of all Filipinos and their environment. PAGASA also aims to promote national progress and contribute to regional socio-economic development through various applications of meteorology, geophysics and space sciences (including astronomy).
PAGASA envisions itself to be a center of excellence in meteorology, operational hydrology, climatology, astronomy and other allied sciences, and to have world-class capability in monitoring, analysis, forecasting and warning of tropical weather systems such as typhoons, monsoons and Intertropical Convergence Zones (ITCZ).
Spanish Colonial Period
Fr. Colina and the Manila Observatory
In 1865, Francisco Colina, a young Jesuit scholastic and professor at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila started a systematic observation and recording of the weather two or three times a day. Jaime Nonell, another Jesuit scholastic, wrote a brief treatise on these observations, which was printed by the Diario de Manila. The treatise attracted the attention of businessmen in Manila and a request was made to the Jesuit director, Fr. Juan Vidal, for regular observations for the purpose of warning the public against approaching typhoons. The businessmen financed the procurement and acquisition of an instrument called the Universal Meteorograph -- an invention of another Jesuit, Fr. Angelo Seechi of the Vatican Observatory in Rome -- which would greatly aid in the day and night observations of the weather.
Fr. Faura's Legacy
In 1866, a scholastic, Federico Faura, S.J., was recognized for his scientific abilities and he was assigned to direct the observatory. On July 7, 1879, Fr. Faura, after comparing observations with those made by a brother Jesuit in the West Indies, correctly stated that a typhoon had just crossed Northern Luzon. The government took every possible precaution based on the reliability of the warning and the slight losses from the typhoon finally and permanently cemented the reputation of the Observatory.
This reputation reached foreign shores and other observatories began requesting for the monthly Boletin del Observatorio de Manila. The growing demands of the Observatory's services led to the Royal Decree on 28 April 1894, proclaiming the Manila Observatory as an official institution under the direction of the Jesuits and supported by the Spanish Crown. This led to the establishment of a network of secondary stations in various points of Luzon.
In the following years, the Observatory had a string of achievements and launched other services in the fields of meteorology, seismology and astronomy. In 1885, time service began for merchant shipping as well as a system of visual (semaphore) weather warnings. In 1886, the Faura Aneroid Barometer was released. In 1887, a section devoted to the study of terrestrial magnetism was set up and six years later, the first maps of terrestrial magnetism in the Philippines was published. In 1890, the section on seismology was officially established and in 1899, the astronomical section completed the services of the Observatory. By the end of the 19th century, the Observatory had won admiration and acclaim from the general public, the shipping lines throughout the Far East, and scientific institutions in the rest of the world.
The Philippine Revolution and Filipino-American War
Fr. Algue and the Weather Bureau
Rev. Jose Algue succeeded Father Faura in 1897 and saw the institution through the Philippine Revolution and the Fil-American War. On May 22, 1901, under a provision of Act No. 131 of the Philippine Commission, the Observatorio was reorganized into the Weather Bureau; its technical departments were maintained as divisions and it was placed under the Department of Interior.
The years that followed saw growth and development for the Bureau. In 1908, Fr. Coronas introduced the first weather map in the Far East, used by typhoon forecasts from thereon. The Bureau's published works on meteorology, terrestial magnetism, and astronomy were well known and had later proven to be of great value to the American forces in the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese during World War II. Fr. Depperman, for example, pioneered studies in tropical cyclones and was considered an authority on the subject internationally.
The Bureau was placed under the newly instituted Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1917. Under the Commonwealth, it was transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Commerce until 1947 when, during the Japanese occupation, it was placed under the Department of Public Works and Communications.
In 1926, Father Miguel Selga succeeded Father Algue. Father Selga was able to obtain the cooperation of other meteorological services and was responsible for developing a uniform code of storm warnings for the Far East.
After World War II
The War introduced drastic change in the Bureau's traditional set-up and functioning. During the Japanese occupation, it was removed from the direction of the Jesuits and for the first time, the Bureau had an all-Filipino staff headed by Mr. Maximo Lachica, head of the Department of Geodetic Engineering of the University of the Philippines. This was a period of limited activity in the Central Office. However, in the field, the weathermen were instrumental in bringing accurate weather information over enemy-occupied territory to the American liberation forces.
The Fall of the Observatory
In February 1944, during the Battle of Manila, the Manila Observatory was detroyed and nothing but the burnt-out shell of its astronomical dome on Padre Faura Street bore testimony to its once glorious past. All the instruments, all the records, and the mass of scientific knowledge accumulated through the years were lost.
On July 24, 1945, the Weather Bureau was re-established with Mr. Edilberto Parulan serving as Officer-in-Charge. A former Japanese temple on Lipa Street in Sampaloc, Manila served as its headquarters. The following November, Dr. Casimiro del Rosario, head of the Physics Department of the University of the Philippines, was appointed as vice to Mr. Parulan. The United States Army graciously donated the first real instruments the Bureau could use and the network of observation stations placed throughout the archipelago served as its field service. The seismograph at the Ambulong Geodynamic station was also repaired in 1945.
Reestablishing the Weather Bureau
In pursuance of a provision in the Philippine Rehabilitation Act of 1946, a U.S. Weather Bureau Mission was sent to Manila to conduct a survey on the needs of the Bureau. This led to the acquisition of more than two million pesos worth of equipment. Young and promising Filipinos, as well as current officials and employees of the Bureau, were sent to American Universities to take up meteorology and undergo retraining. The Bureau was then placed under the Department of Commerce and Industry. In accordance to Executive Order No. 94, implementing Republic Act No. 51, the functions of the Bureau were carried out by its five divisions: the Synoptic, Climatological, Geophysical, Astronomical, and Administrative.
In 1947, the Central Office was moved to the former Marsman building opposite Pier 15 at the Port Area. The Forecasting Center was transferred to the Manila International Airport Balagbag terminal. It became the Manila Main Meteorological Office or MMMO. In 1949, temperature, relative humility and pressure observations in the high atmosphere were made twice daily by the Laoag, Cebu and Zamboanga stations. In the same year a new Geophysical Observatory was set up behind the UP grounds. In 1948, a set of electromagnetic photo-recording seismographs was installed. By 1950, teletype service connected the Forecasting Center to Clark Air Force Base, Sangley Point Naval Base and the Bureau of Telecommunications. Weather reports were exchanged with foreign countries, aircrafts-in-flight and four aeronautical stations in the country -- Laoag, Legaspi, Cebu, and Zamboanga. Telegraphs from field stations passed through the Bureau of Telecommunications. Private radio systems and the then National Civil Defense Administration all helped to facilitate the reception of data and dissemination of the forecasts and warnings. In 1954, the Astronomical Observatory was set up in the UP Diliman campus. From this building, time signals were transmitted seven times daily by radio.
On July 15 1958, Mr. Ricardo C. Cruz, Chief of the Astronomical Division, was appointed Officer-in-Charge. On August 1, 1958, Dr. Roman L. Kintanar, Chief of the Geophysical Division, was appointed Director of the Weather Bureau. At 29, Dr. Kintanar was the youngest ever to hold the post anywhere in the government service.
Development and Expansion
In 1963, the first weather surveillance radar was installed atop the Marsman building. In 1965, on its 100th anniversary, half of the weather stations were already linked with each other by single side-band radio transceivers as part of the establishment of an independent meteorological communication system. In 1968, the 5-year "WMO Training and Research Project, Manila" commenced. It consisted of the Institute of Meteorology in the Weather Bureau and the Department of Meteorology in the University of the Philippines, that jointly aimed to meet the training needs of the country's meteorological personnel and to carry out research in various fields of meteorology. The Institute provided technical in-service training in various levels while the Department offered a post-graduate course leading to a Master of Science degree in Meteorology. With the implementation of the project, the acquisition of an IBM 1130 Electronic Computer was realized and computerization in the Bureau came of age. A telemetry system in the Marikina River Basin was then set up which led to the Bureau's initial efforts at flood forecasting.
In 1969, the Weather Bureau once again moved its Central Office to a new address: 1424 Quezon Boulevard Extension (now Avenue), Quezon City. In 1970, satellite meteorology came of age in the Philippines when an Automatic Picture Transmission (APT) system was set up to intercept photo-transmissions of the upper atmosphere by satellite. This increased the degree of accuracy of the weather forecasts.
The following year, five new radar stations were linked with the Manila radar station to form the Weather Radar Surveillance Network. And the first major research project of the Bureau under the general title of "Typhoon Research Project" was launched with financial assistance from the then National Science and Development Board (NSDB).
Martial Law and Onwards
The Creation of PAGASA
On the eve of the declaration of Martial Law, Congress passed an act abolishing the Weather Bureau and in its stead, establishing the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Its signing into law by the President was aborted by Proclamation 1081. But on December 8 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos, issued Presidential Decree No. 78 establishing PAGASA. It was entrusted with "providing environmental protection and utilizing scientific knowledge as an effective instrument to ensure the safety, well-being, and economic security of all the people, and for the promotion of national progress." It transferred administrative control of the agency from the Department of Commerce and Industry to the Department of National Defense.
It provided further that PAGASA be composed of four major organizational units aside from the traditional administrative service. These are the National Weather Service (NWS), the National Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Data Service (NAGADS), the National Geophysical and Astronomical Service (NGAS) and the National Institute of Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Sciences (NIAGAS).
The NWS undertakes the preparation and subsequent prompt issuance of forecasts and warnings of weather and flood conditions. NAGADS undertakes the acquisition, collection, quality control, processing, and archiving of atmospheric and allied data. NIAGAS undertakes observations and studies of seismological and astronomical phenomena. It provides the official time for the country. NIAGAS is responsible for the training of scientists and technical personnel with respect to atmospheric, geophysical and astronomical sciences.
PAGASA, under PD 78, assumed broader responsibilities with a corresponding increase in its personnel complement, its facilities and resources. President Marcos signed PO 1149 on 2 June 1977, pursuant which two new offices were created, raising the number of major service units to six, aside from the traditional support units. These are the Typhoon Moderation Research and Development Office and the National Flood Forecasting Office (NFFO).
In 1973, the Pampanga River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning Project, a joint undertaking of the PAGASA and the Bureau of Public Works, was inaugurated and upon recommendations of a survey mission, the Government of Japan provided the equipment and training of personnel for the project for a little over a quarter of a million US dollars. Early in 1974, PAGASA, in cooperation with the Office of Civil Defense and DND, put up a radio station with call letters DZCA.
1981 and 1982 also saw the phasing out of antiquated weather surveillance radar systems at Virac, Daet, Mactan and Basco. They were replaced by or modified into WSR-77, a more sophisticated system with plan position indicators in color.
Through a network of automatic stations situated at strategic points along the Pampanga River and its major tributaries, data on the rise and fall of the river levels are telemetered to the Flood Forecasting Center which is located in PAGASA. Impressed with the success of the Flood Forecasting System in the Pampanga River Basin, President Marcos instructed PAGASA to explore the possibility of putting up a similar system in the Agno, Bicol and Cagayan River Basins.
The UNESCO-sponsored Regional Seismological Network in Southeast Asia set up a shop in the PAGASA'S Geophysical Observatory offices in Quezon City in 1974. It seeks to standardize the training of personnel and seismological equipment and improve the accuracy of determining the epicenters of earthquakes in the region. Subsequently, in 1977, a strong motion accelerograph network was put up in Metro Manila. The network was designed to record strong earthquake vibrations in the area.
On 23 March 1977, in celebration of World Meteorological Day, the first "Parangal ng PAGASA" awards went to three people who have contributed significantly to the enhancement of PAGASA's services: Messrs. Edilberto Parulan, Hugo dela Cruz and Pablo S. Malasarte.
In 1979, the new Planetarium at the Science Garden was opened to the public on a first-come first-serve basis. Equipped with a Minolta projector, it has a seating capacity of 90 people. Formally inaugurated on 18 April, the main viewing hall was named after Dr. Casimiro del Rosario, Weather Bureau Director from 1947 to 1958.
In June of 1981, the Bicol flood forecasting sub-system based on the Pampanga River system was inaugurated. In May of the following year, all three sub-systems (Agno, Bicol and Cagayan) were inaugurated as a whole. On the same occasion, the Ground Receiving Station for the Geostationary Meteorological Satellite was similarly inaugurated. Satellite meteorology in the Philippines had taken a giant step.
Project 1 of Flood Forecasting and Warning System for Dam Operations was started in April 1983. It covered Angat and Pantabangan Dams and Project II, the Magat and Binga/Ambuklao Dams including the Data Information Center. This project consisting of two phases was a joint undertaking of the National Power Corporation, the National Irrigation Administration and PAGASA with financial assistance in the form of loans from the Government of Japan.
On September 17, 1984, President Marcos transferred administrative supervision of PAGASA from the Ministry of National Defense to the National Science and Technology Authority through Executive Order No. 984. A major consequence was the transfer of the seismological service to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology.
PAGASA and the International Community
As a member of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, PAGASA is committed to the enhancement of the quality of life of all people of all nations through joint and cooperative efforts with the other members.
In cognizance of his outstanding qualities of leadership, Director-General Kintanar won election to the post of 3rd Vice-President (ad-interim) of the WMO in November 1978-May 1979. In the following months, Dr. Kintanar's star soared higher with his election during the Eighth Congress of WMO in 1979 as President of that organization for the next 4 years. He had the single distinction of having won his seat by acclamation. He became the fifth President since WMO's establishment in 1951 and won re-election in 1983 for another 4-year term.
PAGASA and the Future
Late in 1976, PAGASA drew up its perspective development plan. It realized that in order to be an effective instrument in nation building and ultimately in the enhancement of the quality of life of the people, it must be completely responsive to the changing needs of the times.
Considering the scope and breadth of the effects of meteorology and the allied sciences on humankind, PAGASA has pledged its resources to the attainment of identified national goals and will direct its efforts towards national priorities such as natural disaster prediction, moderation and control, food self-sufficiency, natural resource development, energy, transportation, industry, housing and health.
PAGASA Today - Recent Developments
At present PAG-ASA divided into an Office of the Director, 3 Divisions, 5 Branches and 1 Field Operations Center.
- Finance and Management Division - houses the Budget section, Accounting section and Management Services section.
- Administrative Division - houses the Records Management section, Human Resources Management section and General Services section.
- Engineering and Maintenance Division - houses the Electronics and Communications Engineering section, Mechanical, Electrical and Infrastructure section and the Meteorological Equipment Maintenance section.
- Weather Branch - undertakes continuous monitoring, analysis and prediction of atmospheric conditions and issues forecasts daily for the general public, shipping and civil aviation; issues warnings and bulletins on tropical cyclones and other potentially dangerous meteorological conditions for the welfare of society and the country; maintains an efficient meteorological telecommunication system for effective collection/reception of data, local and international exchange of data and warning bulletins, weather forecasts and other relevant information; and conducts operational studies/investigations for the continuing development/improvement of weather analysis and prediction techniques.
- Flood Forecasting Branch - undertakes monitoring of meteorological and hydrological conditions for flood forecasting and disaster mitigation; undertakes basic hydromet/hydrological data measurements, processing and publication; takes charge in the overall operation and maintenance of telemetry/telecommunication system networks, and electronic-mechanical and gauging equipment; monitors the Pampanga/Agno/Bicol/Cagayan river basins' meteorological and hydrological conditions for hydrological (flood) forecasting.
- Climatology / Agrometeorology Branch - responsible for the collection, quality control, processing, storage and retrieval of meteorological, agrometeorological, climatological and allied data and information in usable format; the provision of standard statistical products, customized climatological products and user services specially tailored for policy/decision makers and other users in the various sectors, such as in agriculture, energy and water resources; and, the preparation and issuance of long term climate predictions, seasonal climate outlooks and advisories on extreme climate events such as El Niño and La Niña. It also undertakes specialized climate and climate change studies and researches in support of national development.
- Atmospheric, Geophysical and Space Sciences Branch - undertakes researches on astronomical objects and related phenomena; operates and maintains astronomical observatories and planetariums; provides and exchanges astronomical data and information; conducts the advocacy of astronomy and space science; and maintains and disseminates the Philippine Standard Time (PST).
- Natural Disaster Reduction Branch -
As of March 28, 2008
- Director - Prisco D. Nilo
- Deputy Director Research and Development - Nathaniel T. Servando
- Officer-in-Charge Administration and Engineering Services - Bernardo M. Soriano Jr.
- Deputy Director Operations and Services - Prisco D. Nilo
- Weather Services Chief Weather Branch - Nathaniel A. Cruz
- Officer-in-Charge Flood Forecasting Branch - Alan P. Pineda
- Weather Services Chief Climatology & Agrometeorology Branch - Flaviana D. Hilario
- Weather Services Chief Atmospheric, Geophysical and Space Sciences Branch - Bernardo M. Soriano Jr.
- Officer-in-Charge Natural Disaster Reduction Branch - Rolu P. Encarnacion
- Officer-in-Charge Field Operations Center - Vicente B. Malano
- Chief Administrative Division - Sylvia N. Davis
- Chief Finance & Management Division - Lilibeth B. Gonzales
- Weather Services Chief Engineering and Maintenance Division - Catalino L. Davis
Area of Responsibility
PAGASA monitors tropical storm activity and broadcasts warnings and safety measures every six or twelve hours within its area of responsibility which is 25°N 120°E, 25°N 135°E, 5°N 135°E, 5°N 115°E, 15°N 115°E, 21°N 120°E and back to 25°N.
(See PAGASA's report through media on one of the 2007 tropical storms)
- http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/index.shtml (accessed on 18 January 2007)
- http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/mission.shtml (accessed on 18 January 2007)