PGS Lecture Series 2022-11: Kerby Alvarez on archival data on Philippine climate

For the 11th PGS Lecture Series of the Philippine Geographical Society for 2022, Associate Professor of History Kerby Alvarez, PhD will share his research on climate studies conducted by the Philippine Weather Bureau (PWB) from 1900-1930s through a historical lens.

The presentation entitled Understanding Tropical Manila: Climatic Studies of the Philippine Weather Bureau, 1900s-1930s happens on Tuesday, 29 November 2022 at 4:00 PM.

This lecture presents a historical analysis of the scientific studies on climate made by the Philippine Weather Bureau (PWB) from 1900 to the 1930s. A two-pronged approach is utilized to understand the objectives, usage, and impact of these climatological studies, particularly on the related elements of heat, temperature, evaporation, and rainfall: on the one hand, it was aimed at expanding the data bank, empirical knowledge, and pioneering researches on Philippine environment, and on the other hand, to aid the American colonial state in supervising the newly-acquired colony in the Pacific. Tornow (1899) points out that for Manila to be an investment-friendly “principal emporium,” it needed to have an urban landscape suitable for comfortable residence. But the archipelago, during the first two decades of the 20th century, was hounded by frequent climatic extremes that hampered its vital sectors dependent on the environment – such as urban development and agriculture. Among these extremes, for example, was the eight-month-long drought from October 1911 to May 1912 that affected major agricultural regions in the archipelago. The reorganized PWB, with its nucleus still intact from the Spanish meteorological agency, the Observatorio Meteorológico de Manila (OMM), advanced field and laboratory projects to further expand the existing knowledge on the climate of the archipelago. The environment of Manila, and other vital regions surrounding the capital city, were the subject of the advanced data-gathering and climatic theory-applying initiatives of the weather bureau.

KERBY C. ALVAREZ, PhD is an Associate Professor at the Department of History, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. He finished a Bachelor of Arts in History degree (2010) and a Master of Arts degree in History (2014) at UP Diliman. He obtained a Doctorat en Histoire, Art, at Archeólogie (HISTAR) degree from the Université de Namur in Belgium (2019). The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) awarded him the Young Historian’s Prize 2015. His research interests include environmental history, history of science, history of hazards and disasters in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and the local history of his hometown, Malabon.

To listen to the talk, please click this link to register:

This presentation is co-sponsored by the UP Department of Geography.


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