Astrology: Alive and well in the Philippines

Resti H. Santiago
Horoscopes, astrology...They are very much a part of our culture. How different — or alike — are they?

ASTROLOGY FRIENDS MANILA members at their first workshop. Photo by Edel Santiago

MANILA, Philippines – Newspapers, local and foreign magazines, TV and radio shows regularly feature different kinds of horoscopes, from the sublime to the downright funny.

In bookstores and bangketas, horoscope magazines still sell like hotcakes, especially at the start or end of a year, Chinese or not. Even local telcos cannot resist offering horoscope forecasts every now and then as a value-added service.  

You might think that this is astrology, but what proliferate are actually variations of Sun sign astrology, popularly known in the Philippines simply as horoscopes. No matter how good the astrologer who writes it, horoscopes are not what real astrology is about.

Real astrologers, like scientists, don’t believe that all Cancerians will encounter the same kind of fate on a certain day or on a certain month. Also, a scientist or scientifically-inclined individual who dismisses astrology without having gone beyond Sun sign astrology should be considered unscientific, for the simple reason that he or she mistook an apple for an orange. 

Newspaper horoscopes do not represent real astrology                                                                                   

Although derived from the practice of astrology, horoscope is a modern “invention” created in 1930 to help sell the newspaper Sunday Express in London.

The first horoscope column writer was Richard Harold Naylor. They wanted to promote modern astrology without the astrological chart. What came out was something that was similar to what astrologers do but not quite the real thing.

It’s like a body without a soul.

Unfortunately, horoscopes became more popular; people started to believe that horoscopes represent all that astrology is.

Sun sign horoscopes are yesterday

Sun sign horoscopes are simplified astrology based solely on the month one is born. A complete astrological reading is based on the exact date, time and place of birth.

Horoscopes have served their purpose; it’s time for us to upgrade.

COUNTRIES HAVE CHARTS, TOO. Real astrological interpretation is based on computation based on the exact moment a person or an entity is born. Image from Resti Santiago

The wall of mathematics is no longer a barrier to those who want to seriously study the science of the stars. Free astrology programs and chart computation sites abound on the Net. The site is a good place for a novice to start.

Astrology originated from the meticulous observations of the Mesopotamians and was transformed into a highly systematic body of knowledge that deals with the study of nature, human life and fate by Hellenistic philosophers, who lived and taught in Alexandria circa 100-50 BC.

Astrology reached its height in the Medieval and early Renaissance era. That was a period wherein an astrologer can work for the kings, queens and nobles alongside scientists and religious leaders.

From such height, astrology fell; it was re-invented as a tool for character analysis at the beginning of the 20th century and eventually degenerated into the form of entertainment that we now call horoscopes.

There is a movement now among astrologers to retrieve, revive and re-apply the tools and techniques that were lost to modern astrologers.

From this movement came what is now termed as Medieval or Traditional astrology; the kind of astrology that existed prior to the 17th century.

Medieval astrology is a more practical and down-to-earth kind of astrology. It deals more with “fate” than potentialities. It is closer to natural science than to psychology. Thanks to the translation done by scholars, the techniques and system used by the old masters are now being made available to serious students.

Astrology Friends Manila

With the help of social media — especially Facebook — a new group of astrology enthusiasts has been formed in the Philippines.

VETERAN ASTROLOGER HEBER BARTOLOME, better known as an artist-musician, attending one of Astrology Friends Manila’s meetings. Photo by Imelda Morales

It began as an informal Facebook group called Astrology Friends Manila. The members come from all walks of life, mostly young writers, artists, executives, entrepreneurs, professionals and students. They meet regularly to discuss astrology that matters and are constantly exchanging information about astrological influences. 

Some, like Iris Isla and James Andres, travel all the way from Baguio and Ilocos Sur just to learn more about what real astrology is. The core members of the group like Juan Pablo Lapore, Kristine Sy, Ruby Durana, Walter Ang, Imelda Morales, Irene Chia and Leo Aranas were in attendance at the “Constellation of Heroes,” the first Medieval Astrology Workshop in the Philippines that I conducted. It was held on April 27, 2012 at Chef’s Bistro in Quezon City.

The group aims to provide useful information to the public to show that astrology is not just for entertainment. The members believe that by providing verifiable and quantifiable predictions and by sharing practical guidance to others, astrologers can rise to challenges of the 21st century.

By engaging in public debates about important issues that affect the country, more people will realize that astrologers have many things to contribute to the betterment of Filipino society.

In short, astrologers need a makeover.  

For astrologers to be taken seriously, they should transform their image from either a “prophet of doom” or an entertainer into a wise, philosophically or scientifically inclined practitioner just like their august predecessor; a few examples are the mathematician Claudius Ptolemy, philosopher Marcilio Ficino or the scientist Johannes Kepler.

Medieval astrology can also be applied in predicting the weather. We’ll tell you more about that next week. –

More from this section: 



Elsewhere in Rappler:

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.