Meteorites – fragments of rocks that plummet to Earth from space – are extraordinarily rare. They offer important information on the diverse types of rocks from celestial bodies in our solar system. The study of meteorites provides some insight into the formation of planets billions of years ago as well as the historical impacts of massive meteorites on Earth that helped shaped the world we know today.
In the Philippines, only six (6) meteorites are registered in the Meteoritical Society’s Bulletin Database – one of which is the recently discovered Orconuma meteorite found in its namesake barangay in the Municipality of Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro. In the summer of 2011, farmers Fredo Manzano, Edgar Francisco Sr., and Enrico Camacho Jr. were working in the field under the scorching heat of the sun when they witnessed a burning object falling from the sky and heard several loud explosions afterward. Baffled by this strange phenomenon, they went to investigate and later found a crater in the ground. Inside it, they took the stony object with them, which would later be recognized as a meteorite by the International Society for Meteoritics and Planetary Science in October 2021.
The Orconuma meteorite is the first meteorite sample to be added to the National Geological and Paleontological Collections of the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP). The displayed specimen is a piece of the 7.8 kg meteorite unearthed by the farmers in Mindoro. It was eventually sold to international collectors Mr. John Higgins and Mr. Jasper Spencer, who donated a portion of it to the NMP. The donation was facilitated by geologist Aubrey Whymark on July 8, 2022.
Personnel from the Geological Laboratory Services Section (GLSS) of the Lands Geological Survey Division (LGSD) of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) were invited to attend the unveiling of the public display of the Orconuma meteorite on July 22, 2022, at the Godofredo Alcasid Function Hall of the National Museum of Natural History in Rizal Park, Manila. The momentous event entitled Gift to the Nation, ORCONUMA: A Piece of Space was spearheaded by the NMP.
NMP Deputy Director-General for Museums Jorell Legaspi commenced the short program by welcoming guests from the MGB, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, various organizations, including the Philippine Astronomical Society, Inc., and the general public. Mr. Christian Cruz, MGB IV-A Science Research Specialist II (Embedded Technical Personnel of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Catanauan, Quezon), then presented a statement on behalf of the donors Mr. Higgins and Mr. Spencer on their commitment to sharing the meteorite as a token in the hopes of inspiring further research into meteorites and space exploration. NMP Director-General Jeremy Barns CESO III then assured to honor the wishes of the donors.
Public display of the Orconuma meteorite at the Godofredo Alcasid Function Hall, National Museum of Natural History
close-up photo of the Orconuma meteorite
By the Lands Geological Survey Division