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This Padre Faura Barometer Detected the Onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly

After 134 years, the barometer still works.
IMAGE TWITTER/ANTHONY SIY, LOU GOPAL/MANILA NOSTALGIA
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In 1886, Jesuit priest Federico Faura, aka Padre Faura, invented a barometer that measures atmospheric pressure to estimate the intensity and proximity of approaching typhoons in the Philippines. Padre Faura was a priest and a meteorologist. He was the director of the Manila Observatory. His barometer would see widespread use in the early 20th century and would give warning to households about the strength of approaching typhoons. 

At the time, the Padre Faura Barometer was considered a state-of-the-art weather device. In fact, his invention won him international recognition. 

These days, the Padre Faura Barometer has fallen out of use because of advancements in technology. But one family discovered their Padre Faura Barometer still works in their ancestral house. 

"In our ancestral home, we have this heirlooma barometer designed by Padre Faura himself (says so on the dial), which still works! This is the reading from 12:50 pm today which shows a 'Hurricane at a distance,'" says Anthony Siy in a Twitter post. 

The Padre Faura Barometer is made of Manila wood with a porcelain and glass face. In September 2019, a Padre Faura Barometer went under the gavel with a starting bid of P30,000

Who Was Padre Faura? 

Photo by Lou Gopal.
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Many people in Manila are familiar with the name Padre Faura because of the street named after him. Father Federico Prat Faura, S.J. is the founder of the Manila Observatory. He was also Jose Rizal’s favorite mentor, and Rizal was Faura’s favorite student.

Manila Observatory on Padre Faura Street, 1932

Photo Provided by Lou Gopal | Manila Observatory.

Manila Observatory, 1945

Photo Provided by Lou Gopal | Manila Observatory.
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On December 29, 1896, the day before Rizal’s execution, Faura was among the few who were allowed to visit. Faura had previously argued with Rizal about the consequences of his novels. The priest was upset about how his favorite student had painted such a dark picture of the Philippines with his novels.

According to Fr. Jose S. Arcilla, SJ, professor of History at the Ateneo de Manila University, when they met for the last time, Rizal told Faura: "Do you remember what you told me, Father, when we last saw each other? You proved yourself a prophet." 

Faura, who couldn’t contain his emotions, left Rizal abruptly. 

On the eve of Rizal’s execution and after their last meeting, Faura suffered a fever. A mere three weeks after Rizal was killed, Faura died of natural causes. 

Today, Faura is celebrated as a visionary and scholar who made significant scientific contributions to the Philippines. 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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