THE Earth shook in two towns of southern Palawan as soon as the residents witnessed an unidentified object falling from the sky on Saturday night.
Is it a meteor? Rocket debris? No one knows for sure. At least not yet.
Municipal and provincial disaster officials have sent teams to locate the object. But until now, they could not trace it.
CCTV’s from Bataraza
Residents of Bataraza town first reported that they heard an explosion Saturday around 7 pm.
A video taken from the close circuit television of Boyet Patio captured a blinding light streak from the sky.
Vlogger Muhaimen Arabia, a resident of Poblacion, Bataraza, also shared the CCTV footage of the ball of fire from the sky.
He said the falling object looked like a “meteor”, similar to what he has seen on television shows.
“Akala ko nga paputok eh. Pagtingin ko bulalakaw. Alam mo yung bulalakaw na napapanood natin sa TV. Ang pinagkaibahan lang ay malakas sya. Nakita ng dalawang mata ko. Kinabahan nga ako kasi mabilis eh. Di na sya tuluyang bumagsak. Sa kalagitnaan ng ano, nawala sya,” Arabia said in his Facebook Live.
Eddie Bonsato, a staff of the local disaster office in Bataraza, said he witnessed a ball of fire from the sky. Then around 5-15 minutes later, they heard a blast and felt the ground shake.
“Maliwanag siya, hugis bola na mapula na madilaw, bilog siya…Apoy po siya nung dito pa lang po siya sa mababa kasi parang pataas po ang kanyang paglipad, mabilis po, akala nga po namin nung una ay bulalakaw,” Bonsanto said in an interview by local radio station.
“Malakas ang pagsabog niya, buong-buo yung putok,” he added.
Residents of Rizal also said they experienced the same thing Saturday night.
Debris from Chinese rocket?
On December 29, 2022, the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) announced that China is launching its Long March 3B rocket. The debris of the Chinese rocket was projected to fall within the vicinity of Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, approximately 137 kilometers from Ayungin Shoal and 200 kilometers from Quezon, Palawan.
Similarly, the Civil Aviation Authority has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) about the re-entry into space of the Chinese rocket debris.
“While not projected to fall on land features or inhabited areas within the Philippine territory, falling debris poses a danger and potential risk to ships, aircraft, fishing boats, and other vessels that will pass through the drop zone,” the PSA said.
Republicasia asked the PSA if the Bataraza incident was related to the Chinese rocket launch. But its spokesperson has yet to answer the query.
The astronomy division from the state forecasting agency Pagasa had earlier said a Quadrantid meteor shower is expected from December 28, 2022, to January 12, 2023.
The meteor shower is being produced by asteroid 2003 EH1 passing near Earth’s atmosphere. In other countries, its peak activity on January 4 was a spectacular show of fireballs that created explosions of color in the sky.
At the peak activity of the Quadrantids meteor shower, “a nominal rate of 110 meteors per hour” can fall, Pagasa reported in its Astronomical Diary.
Republicasia asked Engr. Chat Ramos, head of Pagasa Space Sciences and Astronomy Section, if the phenomenon in Bataraza and Rizal could have been part of the Quadrantid meteor shower.
She said it is “possible”, but they have no evidence confirming if it was.
“Dapat may video man lang nung sinasabing fireball. Kasi yung nakikita lang namin ay madilim na biglang nagliwanag,” she said. It would also help if there is visual evidence on the trajectory of the object.
Other evidence that could help them, she said, is if there is visual confirmation and documentation of the crater where the supposed landing zone of the meteor is and if it burned some trees upon landfall. with reports from Puerto Princesa stringer Ruth Rodriguez
banner photos: screenshot from the CCTV footage courtesy of Muhaimen Arabia