Raymundo Punongbayan bigraphy, stories - Geologist

Raymundo Punongbayan : biography

13 June 1937 - 28 April 2005

Dr. Raymundo Santiago Punongbayan (13 June 1937 – 28 April 2005) was the former director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) . He served from 1983 to 2002. Punongbayan became popular after handling two well-known calamities, the July 16, 1990, Luzon earthquake and the 1991 Pinatubo eruption. PHIVOLCS is the government agency in charge of conducting volcanic and earthquake monitoring in order to generate data that could be used to predict volcanic eruptions and earthquake occurrences.

Professional and Family Life

A prominent scientist in the global community, Punongbayan was considered an authority in the fields of volcanology and seismology.

He was extremely accomplished: a licensed geologist, professor, consultant, public servant and author of many scientific papers. Author of more than 50 books, organizer and participant in dozens of international conventions for prevention and research of natural hazards, Punongbayan was an authority in volcanology, geology, disaster preparedness and seismology, he conducted research on various branches of geophysics.

Punongbayan was also a governor of the Philippine National Red Cross, a member of the task force of the Development of Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Prevention Master Plan for the Asia-Pacific Region, and national focal person of the Asean Coast subcommittee on meteorology and geophysics.

Punongbayan’s close monitoring of the volcano, and radio and information campaign to apprise persons in the affected towns of Mt. Pinatubo’s impending eruption saved thousands of lives in 1991.

Punongbayan was also a father to four children.


At the time of his death, he was serving as a member of the Philippine National Red Cross Board of Governors. Shortly after noon on April 28, 2005, Punongbayan and eight others died in a helicopter crash at Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija. With Punongbayan in the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Huey helicopter (with tail number 324) were four staff members of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and four Air Force crew members. They were on a mission to assess the place as part of the disaster preparedness operations program of the government. They were also looking for possible resettlement for people displaced by flash floods and landslides.


Raymundo Punongbayan studied his secondary education at Tondo's known school. Florentino Torres High School was his second home. Punongbayan graduated from the University of the Philippines (Diliman) in 1960 with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Geology. He finished his Ph.D. in geology from University of Colorado in 1972.


In April of 2003 Punongbayan was awarded the Sergey Soloviev Medal of 2003 by the European Geophysical Society for his exceptional research and assessment of natural hazards. He had been only the fifth scientist to receive this prestigious award. Established by the Interdisciplinary Working Group on Natural Hazards in recognition of seismology and tsunami research expert Sergey Soloviev’s achievements, the medal is given to scientists who have made special contributions to the proper assessment and mitigation of hazards for the protection of human life and socioeconomic systems. Soloviev gained worldwide recognition as an authority in these fields and was a courageous advocate of the principles of international cooperation.

He received two presidential awards in 1992 and 1996, the Pagasa Award for Public Service in 1994, the Unit Award for Excellence of Service granted by the United States Department of the Interior in 1991, and the United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction in 2001.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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