In December last year, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that over 10 million Filipinos may experience job disruption in the way of salary cuts, decreased working hours, or total job loss because of the pandemic. In the Asia-Pacific region, approximately 81 million jobs were lost in 2020, which may raise the region’s unemployment rate by over 2% from 2019.

Given the job market’s volatility, workers should to be able to quickly adjust when faced with job disruption. With lessened pay and working hours, they need to find additional sources of income. With limited job openings, sudden unemployment might require, not only changing employers, but a career shift.

But how can one shift roles? For example, if you’ve been working in law for some time, and you wish to shift to being a writer, it pays to have soft or transferable skills that allow career mobility. Specialization or the mastery of one skill may increase your marketability, but only up to a certain point. With technological advancements and global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, your specialized skills run the risk of being outdated, which may lead to unemployment.


Hard Skills vs Soft Skills

While hard skills comprise technical knowledge or specific training for a particular area, Psychologist Roselle G. Teodosio, owner of IntegraVita Wellness Center, defines soft skills as “interpersonal skills that shape who you are, and how you work or deal with others.” Hard skills are more teachable, while soft skills are cultivated. Teodosio adds that hard skills can be thought of as IQ (intelligence quotient) while soft skills are equivalent to EQ (emotional intelligence). “Nowadays, a lot of companies look for people who have higher EQ. Emotional intelligence is seen as something that enhances and bolsters hard skills. A lack of soft skills would hinder an employee from thinking outside the box, or imparting their knowledge.”

In her two-decade career, Karen Seno has successfully shifted across roles in TV and video production, corporate communications, and human resources (HR). As the current HR manager of a holding company, Seno believes that soft skills are vital during these challenging times. “Soft skills are key in fostering an effective and productive virtual-work environment grounded on empathy. By developing soft skills, employees are able to add value both to their professional and their personal lives. It shows their commitment to self-development beyond the technical aspects of the job they hold.”

Teodosio agrees that soft skills show a person’s capacity to grow in a company. “Since employers tend to invest in their employees, they would want to have someone on a long-term basis. Companies also look for team players.  A person who can adapt to different personalities, and shows good leadership and work ethic in times of crisis represents the company and what it stands for, especially to potential clients and business partners.” Such valuable soft skills also promote job security. “If there will be downsizing, economic slowdown or even a pandemic, then the employee who has shown these skills will likely be retained than let go,” Teodosio adds.

Though both hard and soft skills are necessary and complimentary to each other, Seno believes that that the latter trumps the former. “In most cases, I would say an ideal mix would be 60% soft skills and 40% hard skills.”



Top 5 Soft Skills Employers Seek

With the pandemic affecting businesses and employment, Teodosio says the need for soft skills is more relevant than ever. “Companies are very careful in choosing the employees that will be most beneficial to them in terms of productivity and flexibility at least cost.  It is to the advantage of companies to retain employees who can play a lot of roles in the company to maintain productivity while cutting back on overhead expenses.”

But pandemic or not, employees need to step up their game to cope with the ever-changing landscape of industries. According to the World Economic Forum, the top 5 skills employers are looking for are also soft skills.  


  1. Communication

        Seno shares that shifting to a virtual work setup has limited our personal interactions, yet has increased the amount of time we spend on meetings. “Effective communication can then save on time and resources, bridge gaps, and establish stronger relationships.” Teodosio follows this up with by saying that clear communication should be carried out across all levels—“may it be the big bosses or their co-workers, one on one or as a team.  Effective communicators build connections inside and outside the company.”


How to improve this skill:


  1. Problem Solving

        Problem solving demonstrates a person’s self-reliance. Seno explains, “Companies need people who are concerned not just with delivering the basics according to their job description, but who can thrive when things don’t go their way.” Teodosio agrees. “A good employee is able to stay calm and rational when problems arise. Rather than emotions, his decisions are guided by logic and common sense.” 


How to improve this skill:


  1. Analytical Skills

        Seno states that analytical skills are key in gaining an in-depth understanding of a topic or issue.  “This is useful for goal-setting during project planning, or for coming up with solutions for complex problems.” 


How to improve this skill:


  1. Customer Service

Communication is the foundation of excellent customer service. Though this skill in useful in building a solid clientele, Seno stresses that “A good employee treats all their stakeholders—be they internal or external—as customers.” An openness to feedback and improvement ensures quality outcomes for customer satisfaction. 


How to improve this skill:


  1. Leadership

        “Leadership requires accountability, authenticity, and empathy. Effective leaders are like lighthouses—they give a general direction for guidance as team members navigate the rough seas,” Seno illustrates. Teodosio says that “If an employee has good leadership skills, it follows that he is able to communicate himself well to others.”


How to improve this skill:


While these traits have always been relevant in the workplace, Teodosio says they are even more important now during the pandemic. “The pandemic has brought on feelings of isolation and anxiety, to name a few.  If one cannot handle such a stress, then how will he be able to address the other stressors work can bring?”


Tips for job hunters

Job hunting may be extra challenging these times, so our experts offer these bits of advice:

Widen your network.  “Do not limit yourself to one or two fields,” says Teodosio. “Instead, try to look at other fields of expertise that you find interesting.  It is not the best time to be picky.”

Boost your skills. Both experts agree that now is the perfect time to expand one’s knowledge.  “Explore free online classes. The additional skills will make your CV shine,” advises Teodosio.

“Creating your own ‘personal brand’ will make companies notice you. You need to focus on what is unique about you.”

Prepare for virtual interviews.  Because first impressions last, small details such as your clothes, background, and even the way you sit matter.

Be patient.  If you don’t find a job right away, don’t be too hard on yourself. “A lot of companies are affected by the pandemic,” Teodosio says. “So, they are quite choosy with candidates.  Just be on the lookout for job openings you are interested in.”


On the first day of Luzon’s Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) last March 16, the world—or at least this part of the world—seemed to have come to a standstill. No motorcycles roared on the streets, allowing silence to breathe in spaces that had always teemed with noise and activity. Suddenly, staying away from the people dearest to us became a supreme act of love. 

Though essential-goods stores such as wet markets, supermarkets, pharmacies, and some eateries remained open, a lot of businesses closed shop to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Even the ever-present media wasn’t spared by the pandemic; some channels put production on hold, and aired only replays.

Despite the health crisis, Ube Media’s Panahon TV—committed to its advocacy of spreading accurate information, not only on the weather, but also on disaster resiliency, climate change, agriculture and most importantly, health—continued to air original content.


How they did it

Executive Producer Donna Lina explained that a plan was mapped out with the team to figure out the most feasible way of operating the studio with the least amount of people. “It helped that we are a show that deals with the weather and DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction), so we’ve always prepared for the worst-case scenario. It would be such a disservice to all of us if we weren’t prepared. Part of our training in Panahon TV is to check outside threats.”

To reduce risks, the show allowed a rotating team of only five people in the studio housed inside the Quezon City building of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). While the rest of Panahon TV’s staff worked from home, the studio team included a reporter, producer, cameraman, web administrator, and video editor. Content Head George Gamayo added, “The production staff is fetched and sent to their homes using our media van. The vehicle is disinfected after service. There are weekly schedules for office disinfection. The exhaust fan is turned on during and after disinfection to reduce the risk brought about by aerosols.”

Shooting, especially in the field, is the backbone of socially-oriented TV shows like Panahon TV. But because of the ECQ, the team needed to be creative in sourcing videos. Since the ECQ, all interviews have been conducted through video-conferencing platforms, while other footage are crowd-sourced. “We’ve been experimenting with content in digital media,” Gamayo explained. “During the ECQ, we developed #LockdownDiaries, a vlog-type segment co-produced with overseas Filipinos sharing their hopeful stories amidst the pandemic. Another one is May Say ang Kids, which shows how children understand the virus and the pandemic.” Both these shows have garnered thousands of views on Panahon TV’s Facebook page—proof that the stories resonated with viewers.

Daily Routine

The production team stays in the studio for two weeks before being replaced by the next batch. Supervising Producer Fatima Caberos shares their routine: “We wake up at 3 am to prepare for the live broadcast. We air at 5 to 6 a.m. on Cignal, then at 6 to 6:30 a.m. on Life TV.  After that, our technical team prepares breakfast, while our reporter updates our social media, and our graphic artist sends layouts to mailers and our (broadsheet) print partners. After eating, we clean the studio and take a quick nap. We have lunch then resume working. Then we air at 6 p.m. on Cignal. We eat dinner, clean up, take a bath and sleep.”

Lina makes sure they are provided with ample food—and water delivered to the studio from the cargo house of Air21, part of the Lina Group of Companies. Usually, Caberos buys groceries with another motorcycle-driving team member. Before entering the studio, they take a quick bath and sanitize the items they bought. To boost their immune system, they take morning walks in the PAGASA parking lot for their dose of Vitamin D.

In it for the long haul

Because the pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, Lina keeps communication lines open to make sure that despite the absence of face-to-face communication, she can check on how her employees are feeling. “Ensuring that people continue to have a positive working environment is something we strive to have.  This, we do by having regular general assemblies and collaboration. It’s a great deal of teamwork  and doing the ‘homework.’ In Filipino, ‘yung lahat, tulung-tulong.” (Everyone helps out.)

Caberos agrees. “What I learned from this is that sometimes, it’s a matter of sacrifice and showing concern. We’re grateful that we can still earn. I’m very proud of our team because limited resources don’t keep us from producing and sharing good stories that help people.”

Facing the Future

Though Panahon TV’s current setup seems to be working, it is still far from the ideal. Gamayo elaborates, “Those who are working from home have their share of disruptions, such as power outages and poor internet connection, which delay our workflow. And since we’re doing TV production, we rely on online platforms to send and receive large video files, which consumes too much of our time.” 

Emotional and mental health are also at risk, which may lower productivity. “We understand that people cannot be enthusiastic and productive all the time,” Gamayo adds. “Thus, we really have to be very careful of how we communicate with our colleagues.”

For Lina, the whole thing is a learning process. “I’m learning more about resource and energy management, about the capacity of everyone to help each other. I’ve learned to think faster to find solutions, and to select only the essential activities for the time being.”

Even now that Metro Manila has transitioned into Modified ECQ, Lina remains vigilant, maintaining stringent safety precautions in the workplace. “We will have to take extra measures and evolve to the new normal.  Only until there’s a vaccine and there are zero cases can we really relax.”


Agay Llanera – Head writer, Panahon TV


After the Quadrantids Meteor Shower last January 4, the skies will once again be illuminated by another major astronomical event—the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse.

Eclipses come in pairs

A solar eclipse is always paired with a lunar eclipse.  A solar eclipse only happens during the new moon, while a lunar eclipse  occurs during the full moon. For an eclipse to occur, the new and full moons have to take place within the eclipse season, wherein the Earth, Sun, and Moon are perfectly aligned. This happens twice a year, about six months apart. 

What is a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse?

On January 11, 2020 at 1:07 a.m., the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse will be visible in the country. It occurs whenever the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun, blocking out sunlight and casting a shadow on the Moon’s surface. 

Unlike other types of eclipses, a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse is more subtle and much more difficult to observe. According to Fred Espenak, an American Astrophysicist, about 35% of all eclipses are penumbral. Another 30% are partial eclipses, while the remaining 35% are total eclipses of the moon. 

Where will the Penumbral Eclipse be visible?

The eclipse will be visible in Africa, Oceania, Asia, Europe, and Northern America.

In Manila, the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse starts at 1:07 a.m., reaching its peak at 3:11 a.m. and ending at 5:12 a.m. The next eclipse for the year will be visible on June 6. 

Can We Live on Mars?

Can other planets supporting life? Are we alone in this vast universe? These are some of the questions curious minds are interested in. And it’s this intense kind of curiosity that has led to one of our most ambitious space projects, the Mars Exploration.

Meet Mars

Mars is sometimes called the “Red Planet”. It’s red because its surface has iron oxide or rusty particles. Its only half size of Earth and like our planet, Mars has volcanoes, weather, seasons, polar ice caps and canyons. Its thin atmosphere is made of nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide. These characteristics encouraged scientist to dig deeper into Mars’s history to find out if it once supported life – and maybe able to in the future.

The Mars Mission

So far, almost 50 spacecraft have visited Mars, but not all of them were successful in landing on its surface or in orbiting around the planet. Mars is the only planet scientists have sent rovers to –. These vehicles drive around the planet to take photos and measurements.

Scientists begun to send probes to the red planet in 1960. But Mars Exploration Program funded and led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), officially begun in 1994. The first six spacecraft all failed to reach Mars orbit.

Mariner 4, First Images of Mars Showing Craters in Memnonia Fossae, Mars.
Courtesy: NASA

Mariner 4 was the first successful flyby attempt that entered the planet’s orbit, arriving on July 14, 1965. This mission provided the first close up images of the planet.

The most recent successful landing on Mars happened just last November 2018. The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight), is a robotic lander designed to study the deep interior of the planet and to listen to Marsquakes.

The Possibilities of Mars

Scientist are exploring Mars to determine if life ever arose on Mars, to characterize its climate and geology; and ultimately, to prepare for the human exploration of Mars. The Mars Exploration Program is a science driven program that seeks to understand whether Mars was, is, or can be, a habitable world.

First Photo of Mars sent by InSight Lander.
Courtesy: NASA

Terraforming is the primary ingredient of the concept of Mars – colonization. This is a speculative course of alteration of the conditions of the planet to make it habitable for lives that are existing on Earth without any life supporting system.

In order to make Mars a habitable planet, Bruce Jakosky, a planetary scientist and principal investigator for NASA’s Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution and Christopher Edwards an assistant professor for planetary science, said that by using greenhouse gases that already present on Mars, we could, theoretically, raise temperature and change the atmosphere enough to make Mars an Earth – like.

Mars has exactly opposite problem as Earth. Mars as we all know is a cold planet, in fact the current climate on Mars is at average of about minus 81 degrees Fahrenheit (– 62.78°C), though the temperature can vary wildly. That is why scientists want to make Mars hotter and thicken its atmosphere, so its polar ice caps can melt. Considering more water means more opportunities for microbial life to do its work.

The idea of using microbes to begin a terraforming project on Mars is so encouraging that NASA has already begun initial tests. The Mars Ecopoiesis Test Bed is proposed for development to be included with future robotic mission to Mars. This is something look like a drill with hollow chamber inside with container full of cyanobacteria. The drill would bury itself in the Martian soil, preferably in a place with the presence of liquid water and then the container with cyanobacteria would be release into the chamber and the built – in biosensor would detect whether the microbial life produce any oxygen or other bvproducts.

The first phase of this project was conducted in a simulated Martian environment here on Earth, and the results were promising. But even still, there are some major challenges we’ll have to face if ever we want to use microbially terraform Mars on a large-scale.


We are clearly excited about what the future may bring. Pushing ahead, trying to understand what Mars may have for us. Uncertain of what the outcome may be, but McKay once said, “Life may not be scientifically preferred explanation, but it cannot be yet disproven”.

By: May Dacula, PanahonTV Intern






“The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”
– Tahereh Mafi

Nights aren’t not complete without the presence of the moon. Let’s get to know our nocturnal friend better with these fun facts:

1. It’s smaller than the Earth.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says that the radius of approximately 1,737.5 kilometers. If the Earth were the size of a nickel, the moon would just be as big as a coffee bean.

NASA added that around 30 Earth-sized planets could fit in the distance between our planet and the moon, which is 384,400 kilometers away.

2. You can’t live on the moon.

According to NASA, the moon has a very thin and weak atmosphere, which doesn’t protect it from the sun’s radiation or impacts of meteoroids. This is also the reason why temperatures on the moon are extreme, ranging from boiling hot to freezing cold depending on the orientation of the sun.

Astronauts who explored the moon were equipped with spacesuits that had several layers of insulation and equipped with internal heaters and cooling systems.

3. The moon is responsible for the rising and falling of ocean tides.

Around each new and full moon, the pull on the tides increases due to the gravity of the sun that reinforces the moon’s gravity. During these phases, the tides are at their maximum.

Meanwhile, during the first quarter and last quarter phase, the sun’s gravity works against the gravity of the moon. This is when the tide’s range is at its minimum.

4. There may be earthquakes on the moon!

NASA confirmed that the moon may be seismically active. This is based on data gathered between 1969 to 1972, when Apollo astronauts placed seismometers at their landing sites on the moon.

Because the moon is dry, cool and mostly rigid, moonquakes are continuous unlike earthquakes that usually last for half a minute.

5. The moon has its own festival.

The Moon Festival is a holiday in China and several Asian countries. It’s one of the most important celebrations in the Chinese calendar, traditionally held when the moon is at its fullest and roundest.

This event gathers families and friends that admire the bright mid-autumn moon and eat moon cakes. Moon cake is a sweet pastry with red bean or lotus-seed filling. It is believed to be the symbol of completeness and unity among families.

Photo by: Bobs Artajo, one of the Top20 Supermoon Photo Contest winners

6. The full moon has a different name each month.

The names of the Full Moon originated from the Algonquin tribes of Native America which was adapted by some of the Colonial Americans.

January – Full Wolf Moon
It is believed that this full moon appeared when wolves howled in hunger.

February – Full Snow Moon
Usually the heaviest snow falls in February, making hunting difficult.

March – Full Worm Moon
During spring, the ground softens and earthworm casts reappear. Also known as the Sap Moon, it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins.

April – Full Pink Moon
This full moon signaled the appearance of the moss pink or wild ground phlox, one of the first spring flowers.

May – Full Flower Moon
Flowers become abundant during this month.

June – Full Strawberry Moon
The Algonquin tribes consider this moon as a sign of the perfect time to gather ripening strawberries. It is sometimes called as the Rose Moon.

July – Full Buck Moon
During this time, the antlers of bucks are in full-growth mode.

August – Full Sturgeon Moon
Some Native American tribes knew that the sturgeon, or a type of fish that lives in the northern part of the world, was mostly caught during this full moon.

September – Full Corn Moon
This corresponds with the time of harvesting corn.

October – Full Hunter’s Moon
This is the time for hunting as preparation for the long winter ahead.

November – Full Beaver Moon
This is the time when beavers actively build their winter dams in preparation for the cold season.

December – Full Cold Moon
This is the month when the winter cold speeds up.

7. The moon doesn’t have its own light.

The moon merely reflects light from the sun. The light that we see from the moon is an illusion of the reflected light.

Astronomers say it will take hundreds of thousands of moons to get the same brightness of the sun. Even when a moon reaches its full phase, it always shines with a lower magnitude that the sun.

8. The US first conquered the moon.

According to NASA, there were three men who first stepped in the moon. Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins were the astronauts on the successful Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon while Collins stayed in orbit around the moon, doing experiments and taking images.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step on the moon. He and Aldrin were able to walk around the moon for a few hours, picking up bits of dirt and rocks for experiments. They also installed a U.S. flag on the moon.

9. The moon has inspired idioms!

“Once in a blue moon” refers to an even that is rare, seldom or surreal. Blue Moon refers to the second full moon in a month. Normally, there is one full moon each month but there are also rare instances that a second one sneaks in.

This doesn’t literally mean that the moon turns into a bluish color. However, it is believed that during the 1883 Krakatoa Volcano explosion in Indonesia, people noticed that the moon turned blue. Scientists explained that this phenomenon was more likely because of the ash clouds that rose to the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.

10. Some people love staring at the moon!

If you are fond of staring at the moon, you may be a “selenophile” or a person who loves the moon. “Selene” is the Greek name for the Goddess of the Moon while the suffix “phile” comes from the Greek “philos” which means “loving”.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Once in a Blue Moon? You mean once every two and a half years. Blue moons are rare occurrences, but are not as rare as people think.

Tonight, the world will experience a “blue moon”, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

But in this case, the moon doesn’t literally turn blue. The moon is called blue when it’s the second full moon within a month. Usually, there is only one blue moon in a month, with of course, the exception of blue moons.
The lunar cycle is 29 days long, which means that eventually, there will be an appearance of two moons in one month. This usually happens when a full moon appears at the very start of the month, either on the first or second day.

A blue moon happens roughly once every two and a half years on average, the last two happened in August 2012 and July 2015. In rare cases, there are two blue moons in one year. The “double blue moon” occurred last 1999, and will happen again this year – one tonight, and another in March. On the other hand, when double blue moons occur in January and March, February does not have a full moon, partially because it only has 28 days.

Bluer than Blue
There have been cases of an actual “blue moon,” which are rarer than its conventional meaning. The moon changes hue when there are volcanic eruptions or large fires that leave particles in the atmosphere.

One of the longest times a blue moon occurred was when the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa erupted in 1883, equal to the blast of a 100-megaton nuclear bomb. People reported to have heard a cannon-like noise up to 600 kilometers away. Ash and particles about 1 micrometer wide rose up to the Earth’s atmosphere, causing selective light to pass through and reach the surface. The moon “turned blue” for days in areas near Krakatoa.

Reported sightings of a “blue moon” also happened after Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991. Forest fires are also a cause for blue moons because of the smoke and particles they create. In these occurrences, “lavender suns” are also reported to be seen, also caused by particles in the air.

Historical Mix-up
Originally, the blue moon was considered the third out of four full moons in a season (winter, spring, summer, fall). Each season usually experiences 3 full moons, hence the appearance of a 4th moon, or the Blue Moon, which came rarely and is considered the 13th moon in a year. This was based on Maine Farmer’s Almanac from 1819, which farmers used as reference for agricultural purposes.

However, in 1946, an article on Sky & Telescope misinterpreted the blue moon as the 2nd moon in a month, inferring from the idea that the blue moon appeared as the 13th full moon in a year. The article was titled “Once in a Blue Moon”, a phrase which integrated itself into pop culture meaning something that happens very rarely.
From this misinterpretation, a blue moon can be considered either of the following:
1. It is the extra full moon within a season, which usually has three moons (Maine’s definition); or
2. It is the second full moon within a month (Sky & Telescope’s definition).

The latter is the more popular and commonly used definition for a blue moon nowadays, with the other definition practically defunct.

Illustration from Sky & Telescope

Catch the blue moon tonight, peaking at 8:51 PM (Philippine Standard Time).



The Low Pressure Area (LPA) southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan has developed into a Tropical Depression and was given the local name #TinoPH.

At 10:00 AM today, the Tropical Depression was located at 245 kilometers east-southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. It has maximum winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) with gustiness of 80 kph, moving in a west-northwest direction at a speed of 28 kph. It is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility tomorrow morning.

This weather disturbance is expected to make landfall in Southern Palawan this afternoon, between 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal Number 1 was hoisted in the said province.

Meanwhile, residents of MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), the Bicol Region, Eastern Visayas, Caraga and Panay Island are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides. Metro Manila, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), and the province of Aurora will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms.

Sea travel is risky in the seaboards of Palawan due to moderate to rough seas brought by Tropical Depression #TinoPH.

Of Aliens and Astrobiology

It may sound far-removed from reality, but astrobiology or the branch of biology concerned with the study of life on earth and in space, is actually quite practical. Though this field is relatively new compared to the long-established fields of astronomy, biology, physics, geology and planetary science, astrobiology is essential for securing the future of humans. That’s because it combines the search for habitable environments in the solar system and beyond while researching the evolution and adaptability of life here on Earth. Astrobiology seeks to answer fundamental scientific questions about life—including the conditions for it to flourish here or elsewhere in the galaxy.

Meet Earth, Our Planet

The oldest known fossils found on Earth are around 3.5 billion years old, 14 times the age of the oldest dinosaurs. Different theories and beliefs have sprouted on how life on Earth began. Before the 1800s, most people believed in “vitalism”, an idea that living things were endowed with a special, magical property that made them different from inanimate objects.

Another famous theory is Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, which explains how the vast diversity of life could all have risen from a single common ancestor. Instead of each of the different species being created individually by God, the theory poses that all descended from a primordial organism that lived millions of years ago.

Flourishing life

Earth is often referred to as a “Goldilocks planet”. Like the third of the three bowls of porridge in the fairy tale Goldilocks, it is neither too hot nor too cold, but just right. This allows liquid water—which is essential to life— to flourish in our planet. But do you know that the Earth hasn’t always carried water? A theory suggests that asteroids struck the Earth, carrying this life-giving substance and other bacteria to our planet.

It is a fact that humans are outnumbered by bacteria. As Evolutionary Biologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote, “Our planet has always been in the ‘Age of Bacteria’ ever since the first fossils bacteria, of course, were entombed in rocks more than 3 billion years ago. On any possible, reasonable or fair criterion, bacteria are and always have been the dominant forms of life on Earth.”

A journal published online by the University of California Berkeley on April 11, 2016 reinforces that humans represent only a tiny percentage of the world’s biodiversity.

Life on Mars?

Martians or inhabitants of the planet Mars have long been the subject of pop culture, whether in jest or all seriousness. But recent explorations in Mars have found water bound in the fine soil of the “Red Planet”, particularly in the Gale Crater. This crater was created when a large meteor struck the planet 3.5 billion to 3.8 billion years ago. They discovered that Mount Sharp, a mound of rock in the middle of Gale Crater, was built by sediments deposited in a large lake bed, tens of millions of years ago. Experts believe that the crater itself was once a vast ocean. An analysis of rocks at the bottom of a mountain in the middle of the crater shows that water flowed at different levels over the course of millions of years. In fact, there are still substantial amounts of ice water at the Martian poles.

The mission of Curiosity, a car-sized rover that’s part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL), includes investigating Martian climate and geology, assessing whether the Gale Crater has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including the investigation of the role of water, and planetary habitability studies in preparation for future human exploration.

The question of whether there is, or was, life on Mars may finally be answered by the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission, which will land a 300-kilogram rover on the Red Planet in 2019.

Chances of life beyond Earth

We assume that one-fifth of all stars have habitable planets in orbit around them. This leads us to conclude that there should be other advanced technological civilizations out there. In our very own Milky Way galaxy, the odds of being the only technologically advanced civilization are 1 in 60 billion. Thus, it’s very likely that other intelligent, technologically advanced species have evolved before us.

According to the History Channel, Frank Drake a notable astronomer, created an equation that was able to “estimate the likelihood of the existence of alien life, taking into account a number of factors including the average number of planets able to support life and the fraction that could go on to support intelligent life.” The equation found that “hundreds of thousands” of planets that could support extraterrestrial beings could and should exist.

So… do aliens really exist? This question has baffled humans ever since prehistoric man noticed the bright stars in our sky. Thousands of paranormal sightings have been recorded on video since then, with many conspiracy theories and fictional films such as E.T. and Alien generating much interest among UFO hunters. Hundreds of pictures and videos of UFOs are taken every year. While some have been debunked as fake, there are still dozens that have left even the experts scratching their heads and wondering if we really have been visited by creatures from another planet.

According to the Telegraph, Charles Bolden, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was quoted: “I do believe that we will someday find other forms of life or a form of life, if not in our solar system then in some of the other solar systems — the billions of solar systems in the universe.”

As technology advances, our research probability also expands. If extra-terrestrial life exists, then perhaps, life on Earth can also exist in other planets. Rather than being a scary thought, aliens now give us hope—that we are not alone, and that with the gradual degradation of our planet, human life can still thrive elsewhere. Such is the possibility astrobiologists are now endeavoring to find out.

By Panahon TV Reporter Patrick Obsuna

There are a lot of theories on how the Moon came to being. But one of the most accepted theories is that it was formed from debris that resulted from a collision between Earth and a Mars-sized body called Theia. This collision caused a big chunk of mass to eject from Earth which later on cooled down and then became the Moon.

Our Moon, which is the fifth largest Moon in the Solar System, was given names by several cultures and tribes, one of which is “Bulan” given by the Malays, which is close to how Filipinos call the moon as “Buwan”. Because the Greeks named it “Selene” a titan and their moon goddess, the study of the Moon’s geology is called Selenology.

You might wonder why the Moon looks different every night. This is because as the Earth revolves around the Sun, the light reflected to the Moon varies everyday. This phenomenon creates the phases of the Moon.

Moon’s Phases

Because our Moon is massive, its gravitational pull affects bodies of water during certain phases. This affects the tides, but most importantly the lives of people living near the bodies of water.

Tides and Their Effects on Fishing

Due to the combined gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun, tides occur. Still the Moon is the major force behind tides because it is nearer to the Earth. Tides are periodic short-term changes in the height of the water surface in a particular place.

During the falling fide is the best time of day to catch fish. This occurs when the tide changes from high tide to low tide. The faster the water is moving out, the better the fishing. This is because the fish take advantage of this time to feed on the smaller fish being pushed out to the sea. Meanwhile, high tide is not ideal for fishing because of the rise in sea level.

Tides affect, not only fishing, but also sea travel. Just before a low tide occurs, sea vessels are moved to shallow spots to avoid them from getting hauled into the coastlines. Many marine animals and plants also benefit from the tides. The daily ebb sweeps nutrients from the shallows, moving the juvenile fish from seashore nurseries to the deep ocean.

The pulling of the seas toward the Moon not only affects seawater depths along the coasts, but also the Earth’s rotation, slowed down by what is called tidal friction. The movement of the bulge of tidal water across the oceans and its attraction to the Moon acts as a brake on the Earth’s rotation. As a result, the length of a day increases.

Perhaps the most important effect of the Moon is the way it stabilizes our rotation. When the Earth rotates, it wobbles slightly back and forth on its axis. Without the Moon, we’d be wobbling much more.

Psychological Effects of the Moon

From the word Luna, the Roman Goddess of the Moon, the word “lunatic” was formed. Since the phases of the Moon have a great effect on the bodies of water, Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested that because the brain is the “moistest” organ in the body, it is more susceptible to the pernicious influence of the moon. Agreeing to this is Miami psychiatrist Arnold Lieber who conjectured that since the human body is about 80% water, the moon works its mischievous magic by disrupting the alignment of water molecules in the nervous system.

This is why strange mass behavior is attributed to the presence of a Full Moon. In Europe during the Middle Ages, “Lunar Lunacy” was also known as the “Transylvania effect”, wherein some believe that certain humans transformed into werewolves or vampires during a Full Moon.

Even today, the Full Moon is associated with strange events, such as increased cases of suicides, homicides, psychiatric hospital admission, emergency room calls, traffic accidents, local fights, and animal bites.

Sleep Deprivations

A small study in 2013 by Chrono-biologist and Sleep Researcher Christian Cajochen at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Switzerland was conducted. Out of 33 volunteer adults, all of them slept less during the Full Moon even when they were not aware of the current lunar phase. But a year later, a broad review of sleep-moon research done by scientists at the Max-Plank Institute of Psychiatry in Germany, found no statistically significant correlation between lunar cycle and sleep.

More recently, a research was published on March 2016 by the Frontiers in Pediatrics from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada. More than 5,800 children aged 9 to 11 were analyzed in 12 different countries. The children about 5 minutes less on nights with a Full Moon. This is “unlikely to be important” from a health perspective, the researchers said, but is definitely interesting. Though the brightness of the Full Moon may be the reason for the decreased sleep, researchers doubted this suggestion because of the proliferation of artificial light these days.

Suicides and Homicides

There have been reported cases of an increased crime rate at an event of a Full Moon. A study was conducted in India on 1978 to 1982 by Dr. Siraj Misbahm a neurologist. He randomly selected 3 police stations—one rural, one urban and one industrial in Bihar, Northern India. These three police stations are at least 300 kilometers apart. Gathered data suggested that crimes committed on Full Moon Days were much higher than on all other days.

Psychiatric Hospital Admissions

A study in 2014 led by Varinder Parmar of Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada looked at psychiatric emergency-department visits 6 hours, 12 hours and 24 hours before and after a Full Moon. During the 6 hours before and after a full moon, data showed significantly more patients with personality disorders as well as those who needed more urgent care were admitted to the hospital. However, fewer patients with anxiety disorders showed up during the 12 hours and 24 hours prior to and following the Full Moon.

We cannot argue that the Moon plays an important part in our daily lives. A lot of mysteries have yet to been proven about our satellite but until then, take time to appreciate its beauty and its many phases.

By Panahon TV Reporter Patrick Christoffer Obsuna.

Related articles:

Ten Things You Need to Know about the Moon

Five Things You Should Know When the Moon is Full

Moonstruck: A Closer Look at our Lunar Fascination