Former Phivolcs chief Raymundo Punongbayan was among those who died today in a helicopter crash in Nueva Ecija. Punongbayan, along with four Phivolcs staff, were to do an ocular inspection for a planned resetllement area in Aurora following last December's landslides.
For people like me who grew up during the 90s, Dr. Punongbayan was one of our "heroes". He has become a household name in the Philippines because of his visibility in TV and radio during the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. He educated people about the Richter scale, the difference between magnitude and intensity, and the origins of lahar and different pyroclastic materials. He actually made me want to become a scientist, even for just a fleeting moment.
It's a sad day not only for the Philippine scientific community but for the whole Philippine nation.