Beyond the Storm: a children’s book about Dr. Gemma Narisma


Dr. Ma. Mercedes Rodrigo (left) and Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma (right) together with a poster showing the book covers of the Women of Science Series published by Bookmark.

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma, Associate Professor of the Physics Department of Ateneo de Manila University and Associate Director for Research at Manila Observatory, was featured in a children’s book, Beyond the Storm, which is part of the Women of Science series written by Dr. Ma. Mercedes T. Rodrigo, a Professor of the Department of Information Science and Computer Systems (DISCS) of Ateneo de Manila University. The Women of Science series was published by Bookmark, Inc. and was launched at the Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University last 20 May 2017.

Illustrated in color by George Vincent Bien, a graduate of BS in Digital Illustration and Animation from Ateneo de Naga University, the 20-page children’s book tells the story of Dr. Narisma and her adventures in Naga City. Doing regional climate projections computer simulations is easy for her; making ordinary people understand the significance of her work to their daily lives as farmers is more difficult. A computer bug can be found. But finding the right weather conditions that led to the loss of entire rice fields due to the sudden rise of black bugs is not as straightforward. As Dr. Didith Rodrigo wrote in her book, Beyond the Storm:

“Putting down the phone, Gemma thought about the road ahead. Helping this community would be difficult. She needed the help of other scientists, other researchers. She needed to reach out to local government, communities, and the organizations that worked with them. She needed to train the younger researchers to help her, to make sure the research continues and grows. She took a deep breath. Her work has just begun.”

The book’s cover shows a woman in blue dress wielding a shield and a sword, facing the billowing and bellowing clouds trying to blow her away in a storm. But there she still stood: slender as her steel blade, strong as her shield. And we wonder who this woman was. What distant place and time did she come from? Can she calm the sea and the storm?

“You look so pretty, courageous, and ready for battle, anak,” Gemma’s mother told her after seeing the book’s cover.

Gemma smiled, as she narrated her mom’s words in strong Visayan accent during her response at the launch of the Women of Science series at Rizal Library. Gemma is from Davao and she speaks Visayan or Cebuano.

“I am so grateful to Didith who gave my mom such happiness,” Gemma said. “Thank you Didith for featuring my story–our work on climate disaster risk.” She glanced at Dr. Didith Rodrigo on her left, sitting with other featured women scientists before a long table covered with white cloth. Across them was a crowd of students, staff, faculty, and friends sitting on white monoblock chairs. Behind the audience was the entrance to the venue flanked by Bookmark’s registration booth to the right and a shelf of children’s books further to the left. Near the shelf was a glass wall, a window to a gloomy gray world drenched with rain.

“The planet is not well,” Gemma continued. “As most of you know well, the climate is changing worse than expected. In a sense, we look for the planet’s vital signs as what we do when we have fever. How bad is it going to be? Will Mindanao have a higher temperature than Luzon? Will some parts of the Philippines be dehydrated or inundated? To see these effects in detail, we use climate models. We don’t make rampa. Rather, we use computers to translate equations into figures to allow us to see how the changing climate will affect our country.

“We are very vulnerable. We have to act in a way that is guided by scientific information to protect ourselves from climate change. It is important to know the right dosage of medicine given. Without scientific data, we might not adapt in a very good way. The dosage may not be right–we may overdose or underdose. So we do the number crunching, run our models, and look at observation data.

“I like the title, Beyond the Storm. We have to look beyond the storm and work hard. We have to be inspired, hopeful, and engaged. This series of books is such a source of inspiration to do scientific work. We need collective solutions and science plays a big role. For Didith to write a children’s book to inspire future climate scientists is amazing. I really thank her for featuring my story–our story–the story of all the women featured in this collection. I hope these books inspire a more women to do science in the Philippines.”

Beyond the Storm: a Story about Gemma Narisma written by Dr. Didith Rodrigo is now available at Loyola Schools Bookstore for Php 120.


Women of Science children’s book series launched at Rizal Library


From left to right: Dr. Hilconida Calumpong, Dr. Angela Nina Ann R. Ingle, Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma, Jurgette Honculada (for Dr. Jurgenne Primavera), Dr. Consolacion Ragaza, Dr. Ma. Louise Antonette de las Penas, Dr. Ma. Mercedes Rodrigo, Mikhaila Aldaba, Joreen Navarro, Gabi Dimaranan, Ma. Montessa Realista during the closing ceremony of the Women of Science children’s book launch last 20 June 2017, 5:00 pm, at the Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University.

by Quirino Sugon Jr and Socorro Margarita T. Rodrigo

Last 20 June 2017, a children’s book series on Women of Science by Dr. Didith Rodrigo was launched at the 5th floor Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University. About 80 people attended the event. The book series launch featured was graced by administrators from Ateneo de Manila University, Bookmark Incorporated, the National Development Board. The book series author Dr. Didith Rodrigo gave a response, together with some of the featured women scientists and the book illustrators.  Socorro Rodrigo, the daughter of Dr. Rodrigo and a BS Physics graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, served as the program’s emcee. After the Closing Remarks, the book signing followed with a dinner.

Below is a summary of the proceedings during the book launch.

A. Opening Remarks


Left: Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ, President of Ateneo de Manila University, gives a Welcome message during the launch of the Women of Science children’s book series. Right: The audience during the book launch at Rizal Library.

The program started at 5:00 p.m. The Opening Remarks was given by Anna Maria Delfin, General Manager of Bookmark, Inc, the publisher of the Women of Science Series. She was followed by Fr. Jett Villarin, President of Ateneo de Manila University, who gave the Welcome Message.

B. Message from the National Book Development Board

Anthony John Balisi, Director I of the National Book Development Board, talked about how the board’s science and technology grants provides support for Filipino authors, such as Didith Rodrigo, to publish their new or unfinished manuscripts. He noticed that there is a general lack of female scientist role models in the Philippines. He hoped that the Women in Science book series would inspire young boys and girls to pursue science careers. The National Book Development Board was created during the Presidency of Fidel V. Ramos in 1995 through R.A. 8047, also known as The Book Publishing Industry Development Act.

C. Overview of the Women of Science Series

Dr. Didith Rodrigo, the author of the Women in Science Series, gave an overview of the Women of Science children’s book series. She said that unlike TV and movie celebrities, scientists are not given air time of comparable scale. The book series, therefore, fills this need by featuring women have done so much as scientists and published researchers or as leaders in Philippine institutions. The series aims to make the science accessible without dumbing it down.  She added that if she were still a student, she would have chosen one of these 10 women as mentor.

D. Message from some of the artists

Joreen Navarro, Creative Officer at Works of Heart Creatives Inc. and illustrator of Chemical Romance, said that she doesn’t really do drawing gigs, but changed her mind when she read about the story about how Dr. Connie Ragasa contributes to studies on cancer.

Gabi Dimaranan, illustrator of Cave Dweller, said she loves nature and enjoyed illustrating the story of Dr. Ging Nuneza, a woman who seeks to preserve the wildlife in Mindanao.

Mikhaila Aldaba, illustrator of Rigid Motion, was inspired at the collection of Filipino mats shown to her. These mats were derived from the mathematical work on tilings by Dr. Ninette de las Penas. (Mika had prepared slides for her speech, but was unable to show them. You may contact her if you wish to see her slides.)

E. Messages from featured Women of Science


Left: Women of Science Poster at the 5th floor of Rizal Library. Right: Dr. Ninette de las Penas and Dr. Gemma Narisma sign copies of their books during the launch of the Women of Science children’s book series.

Dr. Ninette de las Penas, the mathematician featured in Rigid Motion, specializes on group theory and its applications on coloring of tile patterns. She discussed how the symmetry laws describing rigid motion can be used to describe geometric patterns from crystal structures of viruses to geometric patterns in art and culture, such as the mats weaved by the Jama Mapun tribe in Southern Philippines.

Dr. Nina Ingle, the conservationist featured in Capturing Flight,  wrote about the 70 species of bats in the Philippine Islands. She said that the event felt like a homecoming for her, having graduated from Ateneo de Manila University with a degree of BS in Biology (Magna Cum Laude). She received the Parker/Gentry award for her  work on “biodiversity conservation through research, management, and education.” She congratulated Dr. Didith Rodrigo for her book series, since the communication is important skill that scientists need to learn from artists to help share science with young minds.

Dr. Gemma Narisma, the climate scientist featured in Beyond the Storm, works at the Regional Climate Systems of Manila Observatory, studying how climate changes in the country through computational climate models and weather station network data. Dr. Narisma thinks of climate change as a fever experienced by the earth, which results in extreme weather, such as the possibility of Mindanao becoming hotter than Luzon. She hopes that the book will inspire the future generation of climate scientists to help us manage climate risks for sustainable development.

Dr. Nida Calumpong, the marine botanist featured in Gardener of the Sea, teaches undergraduate biology at Siliman University. Her training is in Botany, specializing on the taxonomy, population structures, and genetic markers of marine vegetation, such as plants and algae. Her passion is in resource management, such as rehabilitation of coral reefs in Apo Island Marine Sanctuary, which is home to 650 species of fishes and 400 species of corals. She now works with the United Nations World Oceans Assessment to determine the health and socio-economic aspects of the world’s oceans. Dr. Calumpong said that her mother used to plant trees, so that her children can harvest them in the future. In the same way, we must also take care of the health of the planet for the sake of the next generation.

Dr. Connie Ragasa, the DLSU Chemistry Professor featured in Chemical Romance,  works on the natural isolation of the chemical constituents of medicinal  plants–everything from leaves, flowers, seeds, and fruits. She also worked on mushrooms, mosses, liverworts via extraction larval chromatography. She said that research is not easy, since you need to develop expertise in proper techniques–things that you don’t read in books. She hopes that young students would be inspired to contribute something in their fields someday, not just publications and patents.

F. Video Message from the Vice President of the Philippines

Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines Leni Robredo congratulated Dr. Rodrigo and Bookmark for the launch of Women in Science book series. She hoped that the ground-breaking scientists featured in the series would  inspire the young men and women to excel in science to lead in nation building. She said that the Office of the Vice President lauds the work of Dr. Rodrigo not only in creating awareness in the scientific community, but also to gender equality and inclusive development.

G. Closing Remarks

Dr. Evangeline P. Bautista, Dean of School of Science and Engineering, congratulated Dr. Rodrigo and Bookmark for featuring living non-Western scientists. She said that more books like the Women in Science series would give our youth greater appreciation for science and its role in society, and not just idolize basketball stars and singing celebrities. Dr. Bautista then invited everyone to the book signing and for dinner.


Highlights of Manila Observatory’s 150th Anniversary Conference


Front row, left to right: Dr. Gemma Narisma,1,2 Dr. William Padolina,3 Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, SJ,1,2 Mr. Oscar M. Lopez,3 Fr. Daniel J. McNamara, SJ,1,2,5 Mr. Fernando Zapico,6 and Director Antonia Yulo Loyzaga.1 Second row: Dr. Keith Groves,7 Dr. George Mount,8 Mr. Masanobu Tsuji,9 Dr. Fredolin Tangang,10 Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr,1,2 and Mr. Guillermo Escribano.6 Third row: Dr. Celine Vicente,1 Dr. Shiny John Vairamon,11 Dr. James B. Simpas,1,2 Mr. Carlos Madrid,12 Mr. Juan Carlos Lopez,6 and Mr. Juan Pita.6 AFFILIATIONS: 1. Manila Observatory, 2. Ateneo de Manila University, 3. National Academy of Science and Technology, 4. Oscar M. Lopez (OML) Center, 5. Ateneo de Davao University, 6. Embassy of Spain, 7. Boston College, 8. Washington State University, 9. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), 10. National University of Malaysia, 11. Stella Maris College, Tamil Nadu, India, 12. Instituto Cervantes de Manila Not in the photo is Dr. Akimasa Yoshikawa of Kyushu University. (Credits: Mariel Templanza for the the picture; Salve Martinez and Inenila Roberto for the identification of guests)

Manila Observatory inaugurated its 150th anniversary with an international conference entitled, Scientific Frontiers: Serving the Peripheries in Times of Change, which was held last 25 September 2016, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the observatory’s Fr. Francis J. Heyden, SJ Hall. Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, SJ, President of Ateneo de Manila University and Chair- man of MO’s Board of Trustees gave the Welcome Remarks, while Executive Director Ma. Antonia Yulo Loyzaga gave the Opening Remarks.

The keynote speaker was Fr. Agustin Udias, SJ of Catedra de Geofisica, Faculty of Physical Science, Universidad Complutense, Madrid. Fr. Udias is the author of the book, Searching the Heavens and the Earth: The History of Jesuit Observatories (2003). A section in the book featured Manila Observatory. Fr. Udias was introduced by Fr. Daniel J. McNamara, SJ, MO’s Science Director.

The recorded video presentation of Fr. Udias was then followed by 30-minute presentations of other resource speakers with 15-minute open forums. Below are the list of resource speakers and the titles of their talks:

  1. Dr. George Mount, Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, Washington State University: Existing and Emerging Atmospheric Measurement Systems for Understanding Air Quality in Mega Manila.
  2. Mr. Masanobu Tsuji, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA): RS-GIS, Aero- space Initiatives: Strategies in Responding to Disaster Risk
  3. Dr. Akimasa Yoshikawa, International Center for Space Weather Science and Education, Kyushu University: MAGDAS Network, Space Weather, and Geomagnetic Storms.
  4. Dr. Keith Groves, Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College: SCINDA Net- work and GNSS for Equatorial Ionospheric Research
  5. Mr. Ishmael Narag, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhilVolcs): State of Earthquake Science in the Philippines and the West Valley Fault System.  

Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma, MO’s Associate Director for Research and Program Manager of Regional Climate Systems, gave a 20-minute talk on MO’s Science Agenda and Director Antonia Yulo Loyzaga gave the Closing Remarks. After the program, the speakers and guests were given a tour of Manila Observatory’s Exhibition at the Solar Research Building which showcased the instruments, photos, and other memorabilia in MO’s 150-year history.



Prayer for the repose of the soul of the father of Dr. Gemma Narisma of the Ateneo Physics Department



The Department of Physics of the School of Science and Engineering would like to express its condolences to the family of Andres Narisma, who succumbed to prolonged illness and joined our Creator this Wednesday morning, 1 June 2016.

Mr. Narisma is the father of Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma, faculty member of the Department of Physics.

We will be grateful to the Ateneo community for your prayers for repose of Mr. Narisma’s soul and for the comfort of his remaining family.


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.”  (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4)

Update: 3 June 2016

We have received word from the Department of Physics that Mr. Andres Narisma, the late father of Dr. Gemma Narisma, was cremated on 1 June 2016, the day he passed away.

The Narisma family will be observing a nine-day wake/vigil at their residence at 21 Jetta St., Village East, Cainta. Those who are interested
in paying their respects and sympathizing with the family may visit between 2:00 PM and 10:00 PM until the ninth day on June 9, with novena prayers and/or masses to be held every evening at 8:00 PM.

Dissecting Disasters: Climate Change, Development, and Impacts forum with Dr. Gemma Narisma

The Ateneo Institute of Sustainability invites everyone to a forum entitled


Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma

Wed, 18 Feb 2015, 4:30 – 6:00, Faber Hall Function Room


The disaster risk framework in the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX; IPCC 2012) illustrates the importance of both weather and climate events and the role of non climatic factors in determining disaster risk to the impacts of weather and climate hazards. This talk will delve into this risk framework and its components as applied to coastal cities in the Philippines. It will discuss the changing characteristics of weather and climate extremes in light of human-induced climatic changes. It will also show the evolving patterns of exposure, focusing especially on land use and urbanization and how these patterns of development can potentially change the complexity of the disastrous nature of coastal flooding due to extreme weather events.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Gemma Teresa Narisma is the Associate Director for Research and Head of the Regional Climate Systems Program at the Manila Observatory, Head of the Climate and Disaster Program of the Ateneo Institute of Sustainability, and is an Associate Professor at the Physics department, Loyola Schools.

Admission is free.

You may still register at

For inquiries, please contact Deo Estanislao at 426-6001 loc 4851 or email us at