After swallowing a piece of stone from the sky, an ordinary barrio lass shouts “Darna!” And the girl suddenly becomes a full-grown beautiful woman clad in tight sexy outfit like Wonder Woman. Now she can fly, have the strength of a thousand men and do multiple acrobatic moves to fight evil.
In another scene, a fireball suddenly falls from the sky. A metal smith named “Panday” finds it and brings it home in order to mould it into a magic sword. Soon he will call on the gods while raising up the sword in order to fight evil.
On the flipside in the foreign scene, the picture is confusingly different. This time the meteorite does not serve to assist mankind. “Superman” hides under the guise of a newspaper reporter by the name of Clark Kent. Occasionally, he will stumble with his arch enemies who try to expose him to kryptonite, a type of green colored meteorite that can siphon up his strength and ultimately kill him.
These are the fantasy visions of tektites or meteorites most of us grew up with during our time. But what are tektites or meteorites?
Ever since the Bohemian Society of Sciences reported meteorites they called “moldavites” in 1787, geologists have studied meteorites. In the middle of the 19th century, Charles Darwin referred to the greenish-olive-brown glass found in continental Australia as “Obsidian bomb.” After the international scientific community finally resolved these as “glass meteorites that have rained in from outer space” in 1900, these rocks were named “tektites” by Professor F. E. Suess of the University of Vienna. At that time, these were only found in three regions, namely, Australia, Czechoslovakia, and the East Indies.
In the Philippines, American archaeologist H. Otley Beyer (picture shown at right) discovered this in great volume in Rizal Province in 1926, leading to his study and later publication Philippine Tektites by the University of the Philippines in 1962. To further the growing amount of scientific knowledge, Professor Beyer listed the new discoveries: the Philippines in 1926, Indochina and China in 1928-29, central Java in 1934-35, the Ivory Coast of West Africa in 1935, and in Grimes County in Texas, United States of America in 1936-39. In honor of the national hero Jose Rizal, Beyer also coined the term “Rizalites” for these rocks.
|H. OTLEY BEYER|
Photo courtesy of UP ASP Library
Born in Iowa on July 13, 1883, Beyer began his career in the Philippines at 22 years old in 1905 after getting an appointment from the Philippine Commission. In Manila, Beyer reported to Dr. David P. Barrows, an anthropologist from the University of Chicago who headed the Philippine Bureau of Education. Having spent his first three years with the Ifugao, Beyer was assigned as ethnologist in the Bureau of Science.
In 1914, Beyer founded the Department of Anthropology of the University of the Philippines. As a pioneer in this field of science, his advice and leadership were highly sought after for more than three score years. As adviser, member, or head of mission, his scholarly works and excavation studies in anthropology, archaeology, prehistory and paleontology all helped shape the character of cultural studies in the Philippines.
Terminology and Folklore
The word “Tektites” was derived from the Greek word “tektos,” meaning molten. With the frequency of meteor showers occurring nowadays, there is an increasing interest in these rocks amongst astrological and astronomical enthusiasts. The physical composition of tektites shows their resemblance to obsidian or hard volcanic glass, but their chemical content shows points to nothing but glass. Scientific evaluations further shows that tektites could only have been formed in temperatures higher than any of the recorded volcanic events on Earth. While flying at almost zero gravity conditions during their formative phase, the absence of gravitational force has greatly influenced the hardness and strength of these objects. Map at left shows where tektites were found by Professor H. Otley Beyer in Rizal Province.
Prior to European Contact, the Philippines had a number of myths regarding the origin of the world or the universe. According to Jose Villa Panganiban and Consuelo T. Panganiban, some of that have been transcribed from oral tradition by Spanish missionaries, Dutch writers, and later American and other European researchers. This myth is hinged on the belief of ancient Filipinos to the beginning of life when there were only the sky and the sea. The god in the sky was called “Kaptan” while the god of the sea was named “Magwayen.”
When the Spanish arrived and taught the natives about Christianity, like in the ancient Filipino myths God was always equated with the heavens. In addition, the bible called those things that fall from the sky as “manna” from heaven. As time went on, tektites were synonymously equated with good things until certain beliefs were linked to those who held or owned tektites.
Tektites are from out of this world, and so are surrounded by a mystical aura. Primitive peoples believed that these are messengers from the skies.
One Philippine folklore belief is that tektites attract gold, leading us to believe in its magical powers for good luck, fortune and success. Thus it is also called “asawa ng ginto” or gold’s mate. Other ethnic belief connects tektites to the characteristic of “not being duped” if one has a tektite on hand. In other words, the presence of a tektite enhances the mind. And so, the bigger your tektite, the more power it has!
In the autumn of 1902, one of the biggest tektite or meteorite was found near the border of Clachamas County in Oregon, U.S.A. as reported below by the July 9, 1904 issue of Scientific American magazine. It measured with a length of 10 feet 3-1/2 inches, width of 7 feet and vertical height of 4 feet. Total circumference was 25 feet 4 inches! Compare the size of this tektite or meteorite with the men included in the pictures at right above, and wonder how much impact this rock had on its owners or keepers. By Jose “Ping” Escaño
Source: Bayanihan Collectors Club Newsletter, May 2012
Source: Bayanihan Collectors Club Newsletter, May 2012