“In order to read the destiny of a people, it is necessary to open the book of its past.” – Jose P. Rizal.

The Egyptians and Chinese engaged their civilizations in documenting their history. But the Greeks are the ones known to formalized this as a study since the time of Herodotus, the “father of history.” The Ancient Filipinos also have clear documents and traces of their existence.

Our ancestors were called Australoids who settled in our land approximately 16,000 years ago, while the largest and second migrant ancestors closer to us are called Austronesians, settled in our country some 9,000 years ago.

Most Australoids are comprised of Australian Aborigines, Melanesians, Negritos, Papuans, Ainuses, and Dravidians, while the Austronesians are comprised of Southern Mongoloids.

Known as brave and great seafarers, the Austronesians were able to travel from one place to another with such incredible ease because of their seafaring acumen.

Aside from the Philippines, in fact, the Austronesians also traveled to the Malayan Peninsula; Celebes; Moluccas; Borneo; Java; Sumatra; South Vietnam; Sri Lanka; India; Madagascar; New Zealand; Easter Island; and the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, and Hawaii.

Historians point out the similarities in culture and language between the early Filipinos and the Austronesians. They found out that Austronesians moved from one place to another in search of a better place to live in, they, in turn, spread their culture and languages across various parts of the lands.

Many historians, in fact, contend that the Austronesian language was so widespread that it became the basis of many Philippine dialects, showing that 87 Filipino dialects are related in some form or way to the Austronesian language.

Widespread pottery-making in various parts of the country reflects a trace of Austronesian culture. The ancient pots found in Tabon Cave in Palawan and Ayub Cave in Cotabato have striking similarities with ancient pots found in Madagascar and Vietnam, which are believed to have been made by the Austronesians.

Also, the tradition of burying the dead in earthen jars is said to have come from the Austronesian culture, as were weaving, the making of abaloryos (beads made of glass), and some intricate farming and fishing techniques.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest body of water on Earth. It covers an astonishing 180 million square kilometers, and for thousands of years, the islands of the Pacific were remote from the rest of the world, cut off by very terrifying waves and stormy seas, but the Ancient ancestors of the Filipinos, the Aborigines, Polynesians, and Maoris developed unique and well-adapted civilizations.

So it is in our blood and identity to be adventurers. Just look at how many Filipinos are currently living abroad it was so widespread than ever before, spanning all regions of the globe.

The Filipino Lakanauts

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

We already know who we are, and what we are capable of as a civilization in Asia, and as a representative of humanity. Even before the arrival of the Europeans, the early Filipinos carried on an active trade, not only among themselves but also with all the neighboring countries, and we know earlier that we are terrific adventurous, so the journey to the stars will be the next frontiers for the future generations of Filipinos.

If you were curious why I come up with the name “Lakanaut” to speak of the Filipinos who will go to space is because it is a title used by the nobility in ancient Philippine societies. It describes both sexes regardless of their genders.

A great example is Lakandula. Lakan Dula (Bunao Lakandula/Carlos Lakandula) was the Rajah of Tondo who fought the Spaniards during the colonization of the Philippines. Together with Rajah Sulaiman II and Rajah Sulaiman III, they governed a settlement along the Pasig River in Manila during the 16th century.

The kingdom of Lakan Dola (Lakandula) stretched from Tondo to Pampanga and their chieftains were drawn from his royal kinship and given the title Gat – in Bulacan Gat MaitanGat Chulian which their descendants retained as their surname – with some variations like that of Gatchalian; and in Pampanga – Makapagal, Lazatin, Panlillo.

The Maginoo according to the Boxer Codex.
The Maginoo is a pre-Hispanic class of noble Tagalog residing in Maynila

Meanwhile, if American space travelers are astronauts; Russian space travelers are cosmonauts; Chinese space travelers are taikonauts, then the Filipino space travelers are Lakanauts.

An “astronaut” (from the Greek “astron” (ἄστρον), meaning “star”, and “nautes” (ναύτης), meaning “sailor”) which is directly the same as what our ancestors did, and this is also the same word derive in the word “cosmonaut,” while the word “taikonaut” 太空 (tàikōng, “space”) +‎ -naut, while the word “lakanaut” has deep roots showing the nobility of the person, and when combined Lakan (rajah, sultan, datu, maginoo, tumao) +‎ -naut (ναύτης), “sailor”) meaning “noble-sailors” considering that we are the same composition as a star as well.

There are already initiatives for the Philippines for space development:

1.) PhilSA – The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) is the central government agency addressing all national issues and activities related to space S&T applications. Created under Republic Act No. 11363 or the Philippine Space Act, the PhilSA is an attached agency of the Office of the President for purposes of policy and program coordination, and to ensure alignment in national policies and priorities.

Their policy declaration are:- To safeguard Philippine sovereignty, territorial integrity, Philippine interest, and the right to self-determination as mandated by Article II, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution;

To support and commit to the development, application and utilization of science and technology (S&T) that will foster patriotism and nationalism and accelerate social progress, such as the development of space technology and applications for its security and for the benefit of its citizens;

To ensure access to space and its environs as a sovereign right in the promotion of national security towards the attainment and protection of national interest;

To recognize that there is an urgent need to create a coherent and unified strategy for space development and utilization to keep up with other nations in terms of space S&T;

– To ensure that the Philippines has official representation in the international space community for establishing cooperation agreements and linkages on space development; and

To ensure that the Philippines abides by the various international space treaties and principles promulgated by the United Nations and is an active participant in the international space community, including international rules and procedures concerning the Outer Space Treaty and Liability Convention, among others.

2.) OrbitX – Orbital Exploration Technologies is the first Philippines private rocket company that will develop a new-gen solid suborbital two-stage rocket, OrbitX Haribon SLS-1, powered by a propellant of renewable kerosene derived from waste plastics (OrbitX RP-2).

Their 3 goals are:

  1. Provide cheaper, greener and highly sustainable launch provider for satellites and other payloads;
  2. Bring people to space (space tourism); and
  3. Solve the space junk problem.

3.) TMSP – The Mars Society Philippines is an incorporated non-profit organization that focuses on Medical fields, Martian education, and other key areas. It is part of a worldwide movement of the Mars Society with other chapters, and its goals are:

1. Encourage the general public to join in the interesting projects on TMSP-Metro

2. Undying support from government and private-funded Mars exploration programs around the world.

3. Conducting Mars exploration on a private and collaborative basis.

4. Instill the collaborative spirit of the Filipinos to participate in planetary sciences (Astronomy), Medical fields, Engineering, Industry, Commerce, and brainstorming on Martian exploration.

The Future of Philippines

The Philippines in the future will be one of the titans of the most richest country starting on 2050, and the population will boom towards 145149 million so there will be more new cities to be built in the near future. According to the United Nations, by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in urban areas.

Around that time, the Philippines might be in 16th place, but there is still more room for progress. HSBC’s projection of Philippine GDP growth that will allow it to become number 16 by the year 2050: 

From 2000 to 2010, it projected the Philippines to grow by 8.4%; from 2020 to 2030, 7.3%; from 2030 to 2040, 6.6%; and from 2040 to 2050 is 5.8%. The World Travel and Tourism Council also forecasts that by the year 2028, tourism could directly account for P2.5 trillion, close to 10% of GDP, and support 3.2 million jobs. If we are to make a quantum leap in tourism through innovation, we need to involve many more partners, have a far more holistic and visitor-centric masterplan, and be more aggressive and strategic in deploying capital.

The Underwater Cities of Manila

The research back in 2019 shows the ominous destiny of several cities in Metro Manila.

The research, produced by science organisation Climate Central and published in the open-access journal Nature Communications, said 150 million people – three times more than was previously estimated – could potentially be displaced by 2050, or up to 300 million by the end of the century if climate change is not mitigated.

This could directly impact at least 8.6 million Filipinos living in these areas. And with Manila and Pasay underwater, the new shoreline is projected to be in – imagine this – the Edsa-Magallanes area in Makati.

So in order to continue existing, we will proceed beyond our natural means.

The question is:

Can we create a real-life Atlantis in the near future?

There is this brave Japanese innovators and inventors (group of engineers and architect, etc.) who plans to create an underwater city by sinking a spiraling city down to the seabed. Each building created would be able to fit 5,000 residents and the developer estimates that it’ll soon open its doors as early as 2030.

They plan to build it with risin rather than the traditional concrete, and will use much more advance techniques of engineering that is never been used before.

The estimated cost for building the first underwater city would be around $24B USD.

For the Philippines, that will be a great start when others succeed here, we can do it as well here.

The Pioneers

The Philippines is now on the rise when it comes to space sciences, although there are still fewer people who were experts in this field, the next generation of Filipinos are becoming interested in this.

Rogel Mari Sese, a 31-year-old astrophysicist, teaches at the University of the Philippines Los Banos located just south of Manila, Philippines, instructing students in physics and astronomy. After completing six years of graduate work in Japan in computational astrophysics, he believes his country can benefit from space applications and technology.

The new interest on cube satellite for the Philippines opens more doors to astronautics, that can do great observations on Earth from above. As of this moment as well, the Hiyas Observatory of the TMSP and SRG will be built as well in the near future. Hiyas will be a real treasure for the Philippines, and (I would want to write another blog for that, to tackle its intricate structure.) This sats will help in typhoon seasons, as well as the Observatories who use radio observation.

Rogel Mari Sese (standing) at the first Southeast Asian Young Astronomers Collaboration Meeting in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines in November 2012. Image courtesy of Rogel Mari Sese

Although many of the students who take this course goes to other countries, they usually go back again to make an impact on their country.

The fact that we don’t have any space science or astronomy programs here in the country will be our number one priority and motivation that will propel the establishment of infrastructures that will encourage everyone to take part here. To assure that every Filipino who is interested in astronomy has something to look forward to, and will pass to their descendants.

There is something that started that new revolution in our era. With the signing of the Philippine Space Act (RA 11363) on August 8, 2019, Duterte recognized the “urgent need to create a coherent and unified strategy for space development and utilization to keep up with other nations in terms of space science and technology.”

Moreover, he said there is also a need “to ensure that the Philippines has official representation in the international space community for establishing cooperation agreements and linkages on space development.”

Under the law, the PhilSA will be the central government agency addressing all national issues and activities related to space and science and technology applications.

The PhilSA will also be the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing, and administrative entity of the Executive branch of the government that will plan, develop and promote the national space program in line with the Philippine Space Policy.

It will be an administrative entity of the Executive branch of government.

The law also establishes the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy or the Philippine Space Policy which will serve as the country’s primary strategic roadmap for space development which will embody the country’s goal of becoming a space-capable and space-faring nation within the next decade.

It will prioritize areas of space science and technology applications (SSTAs) that would address national issues, promote the efficient utilization of space assets and resources, establish capacity-building measures for human resources development, strengthen national defense, and enhance international cooperation.

It will also focus on six key development areas namely: National Security and Development; Hazard Management and Climate Studies; Space Research and Development; Space Industry Capacity Building; Space Education and Awareness; and International Cooperation.

References:

https://www.pna.gov.ph

https://globalnation.inquirer.net/23059/in-2050-a-prosperous-philippines-but-who-gets-left-behind

https://appel.nasa.gov/2012/11/29/5-11_filipino_space_program-html/

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/the-philippines-will-be-underwater-in-30-years-inquirer

https://www.philippinesaroundtheworld.com/filipinos-around-the-world-a-perspective/

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