Volcano Eruptions since 1900 [VIDEO]

Watch the history of volcano eruptions in the Philippines since 1900– in less than 30 seconds:

You just saw 96 volcano eruptions over the last 112 years– an average of 1 for every two years. The most active volcanoes are Mayon and Kanlaon– tied in first place with 24 eruptions each since 1900, followed by Bulusan and Taal. Together, these four volcanoes account for 71 eruptions or 3/4 of the total, with the rest divided among nine other volcanoes. (Eruption history data shown here are from the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Project records.)

Huge ash cloud over Mt. Pinatubo on June 12, 1991,
three days before the climactic eruption.

The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on June 1991 is by far the most cataclysmic in the country– it was the second-largest eruption of the century and its effects were felt worldwide. The eruption ejected some 10 cubic kilometers of material (imagine filling a box that is 2 km on each side!), giving it a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6. This is a hundred times more material than that for the next largest eruption, Taal in 1965, which had a VEI of 4. (Like the Richter magnitude scale for earthquakes, the VEI scale is logarithmic. Note, though, that in the video, the bubble sizes do not increase tenfold from one VEI magnitude to the next, but increase linearly with VEI.*)

The most recent eruption is of Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon on February 2011, with a listed VEI of 2. According to various reports, the eruption affected 17 nearby towns with over 100,000 people– and over 2,000 people were called to evacuate.

Mt. Bulusan erupting on February 21, 2011

I wonder how many Filipinos live around active volcanoes. Worldwide, the number is estimated to be 500 million. I visualize a map with circles around the most active volcanoes, sized according to the number of people who would be affected by an eruption of a certain VEI (say, from 0 to 4).

PHIVOLCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) is responsible for monitoring volcano activity and issuing regular volcano bulletins. There are hazard maps for individual volcanoes like this one for Mt. Kanlaon. I’ll find out if they can make (or, have already made) the population figures available too.


* A VEI = 1 bubble is twice as big as a VEI = 0 one, a VEI = 2 bubble is three times as big, and so on. If the bubble sizes were shown accurately in tenfold size increases, the biggest eruptions will completely fill the screen– and well beyond!


Rise of the SM Supermalls [VIDEO]

Watch the rise of SM Supermalls over the country:

There will be 47 malls by the end of the year– and 7 more are planned for over the next few years.

We see that most of them are clustered around Metro Manila and its “suburbs”. So, I also made this zoomed-in version (added 09/05):

There are only 7 malls outside Luzon, with two more set to open soon. SM Lanang Premiere in Davao City is under construction and SM Seaside City Cebu– which will have a (slightly) bigger floor area than SM Mall of Asia– is expected to open in 2014.

As of 2012, the total floor area of SM supermalls add up to around 5.5 sq. km– large enough to cover most of the City of San Juan, Metro Manila! For better or for worse, SM malls have made an imprint in the country’s geography– and its culture.

For an interesting comparison, watch the growth of Walmart over the U.S.



(Source of all data and information: Wikipedia, so take with a grain of salt.)

Growth of the PSHS System [VIDEO]

“As we reach for our dreams,
as we strive for our goals
As we search for the untarnished truth”

— from the PSHS hymn, written by Mario Taguiwalo

What is the PSHS system?

The Philippine Science High School system (PSHS for short, or colloquially, “Pisay”) is a “specialized public high school system in the Philippines” (Wikipedia)– akin to magnet schools in the U.S. PSHS offers scholarships to all students, selected through a competitive national exam (with a 7% admission rate*).

The first campus was founded in Diliman, Quezon City in September 1964. After 24 years, the first regional campus– the Southern Mindanao campus– was established in Davao City. The national plan is to establish a campus in each of the 17 regions of the country. Today, there are 11 regional campuses in all, with around 3,800 student-scholars enrolled. Two additional campuses are set to open by 2014– in Tagaytay City, Cavite (CALABARZON Region Campus) and Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur (Zamboanga Peninsula Region Campus).

This video shows the growth of the PSHS system to 11 existing and 2 planned PSHS campuses. The size of the circles is proportional to the number of enrolled students (for the school year 2011-2012).**

The last frame of the video can downloaded– and used as a data graphic– here.

How many scholars?

One of the (many) good things about Pisay (as we, scholars, affectionately call it) is that class sizes are limited to at most 30 students. The main campus at Diliman is the largest in terms of student body, with 8 sections for a total of around 960 students in total (8 sections x 30 students x 4 years of HS). The other campuses have 3 sections per year, or around 350 students in total. The newer campuses are still “filling in” their upper years, but are building toward that number. In total, more than 3,800 students are enrolled in the 11 campuses. Among them are our future scientists, innovators, leaders, and changemakers.

It would be interesting to estimate many PSHS alumni there are today. Assuming the same number of students from the beginning, we get an upper limit of 21,500. Since the Diliman campus started out with fewer students, the number is probably closer to 15,000 alumni or 1 for every 60,000 Filipinos.***

Appeal to reader:

If you are a Pisay scholar– like me– please appreciate how lucky this makes you. I used to cringe at the cliche they repeated like a mantra then: “To whom much is given, much is required”. Now, 12 years wiser, I understand, and humbly accept.

If you have a child, cousin, niece, nephew, young neighbor, or friend who shows interest and aptitude for science, I encourage you to tell him or her about Pisay– and the possibilities that await.

If you are one, yourself, I encourage you to apply! 🙂



*The figure 7% was estimated from the Wikipedia figure of 17,000 test-takers per year, i.e., (240+11 x 900)/17,000.

**Data used to create this graphic is available here: pshs_enrollees_2011-2012.xls. Thanks to the PSHS System Office of the Executive Director for providing enrollee information. The video was made using Processing.

***As always, comments and corrections are most welcome!