27 January 2016

Geography Majors Tour NAMRIA

Written by Junico Boribor and Gracia Domingo
Photos by Junico Boribor

The Philippines’ central mapping agency, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) welcomed Geography 190 students headed by Ms. Ony Martinez last November 9, 2015 in their main office in Taguig City, Metro Manila.

The day started off with Mr. Alvin F. Laurio’s describing the six core functions of the agency. Through a prepared video presentation, the students got a rundown of the government agency’s duties: topographic mapping via aerial photos; geodetic network development and its recent standardization via the Philippine Reference System of 1992; hydrographic surveys that aids in the making of nautical charts and delineating maritime jurisdictions; land resource assessment and mapping which helps in determining the state’s public domain; and finally, geospatial information management through the agency’s development of the online geospatial information sharing platform, the Philippine Geoportal.

The tour continued on to the agency’s Geodesy and Mapping Department, where Engr. Rizalino G. Panganiban and Engr. Ma. Almalyn A. Balladares explained how they gather geospatial data through the PageNET, a modern positioning infrastructure that utilizes the use of signals from the global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).  This aims to provide the agency with real-time, high-precision geographic data through the internet. Engr. Panganiban further explains that the PageNET aids in the observation of various geological activities in the country such as earthquake and volcano monitoring. 

FIRST STOP: Data acquisition

Next, our group proceeded to the Photogrammetry Division, where the agency processes data and information from acquired aerial and satellite imagery. Precise information on a map’s elevation are obtained and interpreted from these images.

Making the aerial images look 3D!
Mr. Cecil Enaje shows the students a couple of stereoscopes. These devices, when used to view two images alongside each other, create an impression of depth which makes the images pop out, and therefore look three-dimensional.

Trying out the stereoscopes.
Students try out the stereoscopes to look into the aerial photos.

Extracting useful geographic information.
Through several techniques using mapping programs, precision on the exact coordinates and contours are known.

Not your usual stereoscopes.
Through the use of these special lenses which is integrated into this mapping workstation, data can be extracted.

SECOND STOP: Image processing and data compilation

Following data acquisition, the tour proceeded to how topographic maps are made.

The four steps of making a topographic map.
Ms. Shiela Eugenio demonstrates the four distinct steps in making an updated topographic map.  First is the georeferencing of old topographic maps into a digital format; second, planimetric data is updated using SPOT imagery; third, vector data such as contours, roads, rivers, etc. are extracted from old maps; and finally, map symbols are placed.

Through the employment of several levels of data acquisition and verification, the outputs generated by this department is an updated topographic map with a 1:50,000 scale.

The end result? A small scale topographic map.
Topographic maps such as this employ the use of contour lines that represent points of equal height and therefore paint a picture of an area’s relief.

THIRD STOP: Map and chart production

The tour then took the students to how colors play out in the printing process of maps and charts up until to its actual printing.

The color separation process.
Mr. Ariel Baluyot lays down the several stages of processing which in involves the mixing of colors and the placement of these standardized elements into a printed map.

Maps are produced within NAMRIA.
This automated printing press applies the color separation techniques in printing the maps.  A single map needs to run through the press several times with each layer of color applied in each run.

Presenting the finished map.
After several stages of tedious data collection, compilation, and processing, a topographic map is produced.

FOURTH STOP: An overview of NAMRIA’s land cover mapping project

Nearing the tour’s end, Mr. Cornelio Tolentino explained how the agency acquires data for the classification and assessment of land coverin the country.

NAMRIA currently employs the aid of 44 images from LANDSAT 8 with 30m resolution imagery for the data processing.  In 2015, the agency prioritizes the mapping of 30 provinces while in 2016, it will target around 31 provinces with mostly provinces from Mindanao and also, the National Capital Region (NCR).

From satellite imageries to useful land cover information.
Mr. Cornelio Tolentino shows a sample satellite image that will be used for the making of land cover maps.

FINAL STOP: NAMRIA’s Museum of surveying and mapping

The end of the tour took the students to the agency’s museum which houses several historical maps of the Philippines that dates back to the Spanish era.The museum also showcases countless number of mapping and surveying tools that were used by engineers and cartographers throughout the decades.

Like walking through time.
NAMRIA’s museum of surveying and mapping holds a collection of antique instruments for geodetic surveying and cartography.

The Geography 190 class of Ms. Martinez takes a group photo around a 3D relief map of the Philippines found inside the museum.

The Geography 190 class would like to thank all of the NAMRIA staff who have made such well-organized and informative tours possible, especially Administrator Peter N. Tiangco and GISM staffers Mr. Dante Rosette Jr., Ms. Ma. Annie Almuete, and Ms. Michelle Ann Aguilar.

Junico and Gracia are undergraduate students of the Geography Department in UP Diliman

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