Category Archives: Nature

FROM WHERE WE DRINK: The Panigan-Tamugan Watershed Tour

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Disclaimer: All the photos used in this post are owned by either Sir Lemuel Lloyd Manalo of IDIS or Ace Perez of Sunstar Davao. They are used with permission.

I am used to wake up at seven in the morning during ordinary days. If I feel like to pump up in a Zumba session at People’s Park during weekends, I get up at four or five. But my waking time last October 15 became earlier than the usual. I woke up at three in the morning to prepare for the fulfillment of the long been scheduled annual Panigan-Tamugan Watershed Tour organized by the environmental non-government organization Interface Development Intervention (IDIS).

The night before, I could hardly sleep, perhaps due to brimming excitement. It was previously scheduled last August, and then was moved to September and finally, this October. Imagine how it accumulated the desire to marvel at the green surroundings of the Panigan River in Barangay Tawan-Tawan, Baguio District in Davao City.

I packed the necessary things Lemuel Lloyd Manalo, the group’s media advocacy specialist, told us to bring. The lights were kept off so as not to awaken my one-year and ten-month old nephew. In the dark I groped for my gears, notebooks and pen, extra clothes to name a few, notwithstanding dressing up like a blind man. After keeping everything in check, I whispered goodbye to my mother. This trip, I told myself, would be a memorable visit to the source of the water I drink every day. An honor.

IDIS is one of the major environmental organizations that gave attention to the welfare of the environment and natural resources in Davao City, particularly the watersheds that provide potable water to the residents of the city. Currently, it is the Talomo-Lipadas Watershed which supplies us water but, according to the Davao City Water District (DCWD), the watershed is being threatened by shortage due to rapid population and industrial growth. That is why, the DCWD collaborated Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc. to explore the potential of another stream-the Tamugan River to where the bulk water project will be constructed. The project is set to be finished by 2019.

The Tamugan River’s surface water, as part of the entire Panigan-Tamugan Watershed, said IDIS, is very critical to heavy metal and bacterial contamination from nearby unsustainable industries. “These include rampant use of pesticides and herbicides for monocrop banana and pineapple plantations, forest land conversions, sewage from poultries and livestock farms and other pollutants,” said IDIS. And so, the group had painstakingly devised initiatives and efforts to rehabilitate the river, saving it for future use. And I am ready to see how everything fared.

It was five when I arrived at the rendezvous. As I got out of the jeepney, I immediately saw my former colleagues in print, Ace Perez of Sunstar Davao, and in broadcast media, Jandiane Esteban of RGMA Super Radyo. Four more people was also with us in the tour, Ibyang and Dan of Ecoteneo, an environmental organization in Ateneo De Davao University, Rai from the Philippine Eagle Center, and foreigner, an English man and an experienced birder Pete Simon who is a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP). Orange streaks began percolating the sky. Few more minutes, Sunstar Davao Editor-in-chief and birder Stella Estremera along with another member of the WBCP, Martin Pineda parked their car. As soon as Sir Lem came, we trailed the road towards Brgy. Tawan-Tawan.

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BIRDWATCHING 101

Ace, Jandi, Ibyang and I are aboard Sir Martin’s vehicle with Ms. Stella and tailed Sir Pete’s car. The coldness inside his car seemingly simulated the bed-weather ambiance outside. We were quiet at the back, listening to Sir Martin’s lesson about being a birder and some ways to do it, bewildering us with his deep fascination with birds. He told us, in our approving silence, the nitty-gritties of birdwatching and its significance. “Birdwatching can be frustrating at first. You need patience because they are hard to see. They most of the time blend in the canopies. One tip: to be able to know where they are, find a tree which has fruits. They are like us. They go where the food is,” he discussed.

We were in our inexpressive aha-moments. “Don’t you know that birds are indications of a healthy environment? People before don’t choose to stay in a place where there are no longer birds. It could mean that the air in that area is polluted or the soil is not ideal for planting,” he continued, caring less if we were attentive or not. That was an information-packed roughly 45-minute ride.

We passed by the Philippine Eagle Foundation for a while. Sir Martin did not cease telling us everything he knew about birding, perhaps prodding the birder in us, as if pleading to release the illegally encaged avian interest, if there is any. Maybe not now for the birder, but the concern, the sympathy to the plight of the bird’s flight was sparked. In our short stay, we saw, through Pete’s arm-structured telescope, a resting egret, looking for food. The rest were busy capturing the egret’s perfect pose. Until, at a whim, we returned to the road heading to our real destination.

FIRST STOP: ACTUAL BIRDWATCHING BESIDE PANIGAN RIVER

Sir Lem gave us a brief orientation and background of the activity, its purpose, and few reminders. It is prohibited, he said, to drink from the river. “Although it is tested to be safe but still double caution should be observed.” And another, “keep your voices low as you may drive birds away.”- a reminder to a magpie like me.

Pete handed each of us binocular and we tried it like assassins. And we were apprentices destined to fail at our mission to have a clear sight of our elusive targets. We finally trekked down the rocky yet relatively muddy trail going to the river. The trees along the way were all had their heads up and green. They are worth a grin.

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Trying out the Kenko Binoculars like pro-assassins at Brgy Carmen. Photo by: Lemuel Lloyd Manalo/IDIS

Our tour guide, aside from Sir Lem, is a member, in fact, a leader of Bantayo Aweg, Jay Ronnie Gubat, a native in the area. The indigent youth volunteers comprising Bantayo Aweg are the ones who ensure the water quality of the current and future sources of safe drinking water for the city. Properly trained youth conduct water quality monitoring on the Panigan and Tamugan Rivers every end of the month. The monitoring enables us to assess the conditions of various bodies of water whether they are safe to drink, to swim in or to fish from.

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It is from this method that the IDIS found out that 8 out of 10 sampling stations in Talomo-Lipadas (current water source) and Panigan-Tamugan (future water source) have pesticides residues at least once during the sampling period in 2006 to 2008. However, the waters in the Panigan-Tamugan river is considered to be Class AA based on the standards of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB). It means it can be a potential site for drinking but still needs further study. This explains the first reminder.

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Part of the Panigan stream. Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao

I almost forgot the second reminder after someone exclaimed to have spotted a White-breasted Kingfisher perched in a tree not far from the riverside where we stand. We immediately peeked through our binoculars, hoping we did not startle it so we can still see it. Luckily, everyone saw it. We looked for more and we found Everett’s and Mountain White-Eyes, Brown tit Babblers, Gray Wagtail who caused traffic on our way back to our vehicles, to name a few.

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Photo by: Lemuel Lloyd Manalo/IDIS
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Photo by: Lemuel Lloyd Manalo/IDIS
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Photo by: Lemuel Lloyd Manalo/IDIS

I thought finding birds was hard, as expected by an amateur in birdwatching who barely identifies every bird because he sees them all the same. But for Pete, it is even tougher more than the struggle of identification and selective vision the moment the birds camouflage. He said it is “difficult”, surprising for an experienced birder who had spent all his life birdwatching and traveled hundreds of islands around the globe pursuing this passion.

“Birdwatching in the Philippines is difficult because the birds are afraid of the people. They often see them with guns, the children with slingshots. People also made them captives and sell them,” he confessed.

It is a crestfallen reality to a region in the country, even the world, which has more endemic bird species next to Indonesia. Forty of the bird species can only be found in Mindanao. Added to that, most of them are critically endangered, and yes, that includes the country’s national bird-the Philippine Eagle.

SECOND STOP: PANIGAN CAVE

Our next stop was the Panigan cave and the continuation of the Panigan River. The only way to get there is to descend through the sinuous and inclined track guarded by Cacao trees at the sides, standing at attention with its yields dressed in maroon or yellow or green, silently wishing us to trip off and roll down as the quickest way to reach the destination. The Cacao trees were also accompanied by its Goliath, the Durian trees. I noticed that among the rows and columns of Cacao trees, there always stood some Durian trees. Sir Lem explained that Cacao trees are shade-loving beings and the Durian trees provide them that. Good thing, they can co-exist.

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The great descend. Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao

What welcomed us is just a tip of the whole reforestation efforts under the Up-scaling Community Action and Response (UCARE) Program, still a part of the initiative of IDIS. It is noticeable that in Baguio District, especially those populated areas, foliage of trees like Cacao, Durian, Lanzones, Marang, Guyabano, Mangosteen, Santol, Avocado and Banana forms canopies. The fruit trees are planted by the resident themselves as a reforestation and watershed rehabilitation efforts as well as the source of their livelihood. Sir Lem referred to it as Agroforestry. Native non-fruit-bearing trees on the other hand were planted nearest to the stream such as Apitong, Patikan (palm species), Almon, Almaciga, Anitap, Malibago, Barubo, Tiger and Vertiger grass along riverbanks, and Ulingon (Hypericacea). They were the ones who quietly watched us as we struggle on our way down.

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Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao

I was catching breath after I reached the mouth of the Panigan Bridge. I perambulated the huge, white-painted steel bridge to the other end where the cave was.

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Photo by: Lemuel Lloyd Manalo/IDIS
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Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao

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The cave was covered with leaves and trees, concealing its opening but it was made conspicuous by the busy flight of Glossy Swiflets. They flew fast and ‘swift’ (perhaps the origin of their name) back and forth the cave. As we patiently waited for our guide Kuya Ernie Baratas, a Bantay Bukid (forest guard) to lead us to the cave, I was overwhelmed at the sight of a white egret and a young Brahminy Kite majestically gliding above us.

After a few more hours, the approaching of Kuya Ernie, an average man clad in blue shirt with a wooden bolo sheath hanging by his side, signaled us to prepare for the climb. We stood up and headed to the tricky side of the cliff. Sir Lem told us to free our hands because we will be using all our limbs for the climb. And indeed we did. The way up was steep and was made slippery by the dried Cacao leaves, but terrible than others. We latched ourselves on the edge by digging some holes with our feet. Good thing there are sturdy Cacao tree everywhere to hold on.

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Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao
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Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao

After the struggles, we were able to get to the cave. Its mouth was dripping with water. The colossal roots that hugged the cavern’s figure were wet and cold. In an unfortunate chance that Kuya Ernie forgot his flashlight. And so we resorted to our phone’s light as we entered the dark, cold, and wet cave.

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Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao
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Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao

We were not able to go farther inside because the floor was muddy and soft. Meanwhile, the swiflets were passing by us, ignoring our presence. The ceiling was filled with their small nests that can only hold two eggs in every laying time. Bats were also their roommate but I could hardly see one that time, probably because they were still asleep.

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Glossy Swiflet Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao
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Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao
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Photo op at the dripping mouth of Panigan Cave. Photo by Lemuel Lloyd Manalo/IDIS

Because we can’t enter few more doors, we decided to return. Going down is a lot more difficult than climbing up. I almost caught up in an accident. Luckily, I was able to control my weight and had a good grip at the nearby Cacao trees and went down safe. Praise God.

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Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao

On our way up, Kuya Ernie shared how the Bantay Bukid restored the verdant forest in Barangay Tawan-Tawan that affected their communities and other forest inhabitants. He said the reforestation helped increased the yield of other fruit-bearing trees from where they get their income. There are also more birds than before and other wild animals have returned. Mt. Tipolog is now teeming with life.

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Forest Guard Kuya Ernie shared how their lanzones doubled its yield after the reforestation. Photo by Lemuel Lloyd Manalo/IDIS

Bantay Bukid is a community-based forest guard group. It is composed of committed volunteers from the nearby sitios of Panigan, Sumpitan, Gading and Ubay-Nanap in Barangay Tawan-Tawan. The patrollers are deputized by the city government to assist in the enforcement of the rules and regulations of the Watershed Code. They regularly monitor the seedlings, clear foot trails of Mt. Tipolog where the Panigan River runs, and confiscate chainsaws from illegal loggers.

The tour was capped off in an indulgence of the magnificent and exhilarating lush view of the Mt. Tipolog while a riding one of the tramline system in Sitio Sumpitan.

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Panigan River. Photo by: Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao
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Mt. Tipolog. Photo by Ace Perez/Sunstar Davao

Read: Beyond the Tramline in Baguio District

Huge thanks and kudos to the people and organizations who opened our eyes to the real score of our environment, particularly in Davao City. To Sir Lemuel, Sir Pete, Sir Martin, Mam Stella, Mam Rai, Jay Ron, Kuya Ernie, the Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCD), and the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and Philippine Eagle Center (PEF). This acknowledgement is not limited to the provisions during the tour but extends beyond the conservation efforts they have done for the environment.

Thank you also to the company of my colleagues, Ace, Jandi, Dan, and Ibyang. There was never a dull moment with these guys.

I could have returned to sleep because the call time was too early for me. Or if I have won the fight of dozing off back, I could have instead danced my way to a fitter figure. Rather, I choose to see what and who cleans the air I breathe and purifies the water I drink and turned out, it exceeded my expectations. It was a Saturday best spent. Thank you for the time 🙂

Davaoenos dive into A Glass of the Sea

The premier science museum in the Philippines brought an extraordinary underwater experience to Davaoenos!

The Mind Museum, the 1st world-class science museum in the country mounted a weeklong traveling exhibit dubbed as “A Glass of the Sea (AGoS)” last April 30 to May 4 at the Abreeza Activity Center. The exhibit specifically featured Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor, a part of the Coral Triangle that extends between the provinces of Batangas, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon in the Philippines.

The Verde Island Passage (VIP) is considered by the scientists as the “center of the center of marine biodiversity” for its extremely abundant marine biodiversity. This means that no other area in the world has more species of marine life than the Philippines. A group of explorers from the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) has an estimate of at least 30,000 to 40,000 marine species, not limited to fishes but also to corals, nudibranchs (sea slugs), sea turtles, and many others. And they have not ceased to study the marine area up to the present.

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The name “A Glass of the Sea” is derived from the idea that the richness of marine species in an area can be determined by just sampling a glass of sea water. It is done by scientists through DNA analysis. The exhibit served a glass of sea water, giving the public a glimpse of the bounty of the VIP.

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Panoramic view of the A Glass of the Sea exhibit area

Curious mall goers were allured to discover the depths of the VIP guided by three main stops around the exhibit. The first stop or the “Story of the Sea” showcased the actual footage of the underwater expedition of the members of CAS and a sneak peek of some of the species they unearthed.

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Photo by Mercy Mae Maglacion
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Photo by Mercy Mae Maglacion

However, a closer look of these fascinating sea creatures can be viewed in the interactive creature library which was presented in the next stop or the “Story of the Science of the Sea”. By just placing a wooden plank on top of a wooden lectern-like structure, a creature, most of them were freshly discovered animals, flashes on the plasma television. Some of these creatures can be described as both awesome and odd like a Comatulid which looked like an alive rooster feathers assembled in a fixed center, a cuttlefish with a dazzling body because of its dynamic spectral-colored skin, a coral which seems to be a centipede in upright position or an adorable sea slug, all of them lived in VIP harmoniously despite their differences.

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Finally, amused guests were then ushered to “The Story of Your Role in the Sea”, an area in the exhibit where an installation art made out of trash creating a silhouette of towering skyscrapers, a dead sea turtle or pawikan and a hand holding a globe. This area is intended to tug a string of the guests’ consciousness on our responsibilities in protecting and preserving our marine biodiversity as our relationship with the sea and its dwellers is interconnected. The Philippines ranked third among the countries that produce waste, especially plastics that end up in the ocean.  A student visitor quipped, “We are not the only one breathing in this planet.”

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As visitors who swarmed the exhibit are a mixture of kids and kids-at-heart adults, an interactive computer games which allow you to pledge at the end of the game, a fun trivia quiz show to test one’s knowledge about the sea and a haven for children to create their own fish and nudibranch, color it, give it a name and special abilities,  are at bay.

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“The objective of the traveling exhibition is to draw the people and make them appreciate the astounding beauty of marine life and realize the importance of conserving the biodiversity in the Coral Triangle where the Philippines is a part of,” said Asia Urquico Aportadera, AGoS Education Officer.

Aportadera said it also intends to arouse the curiosity and interest of the people especially the kids to study more about the science of the sea.

“We also wanted public and the children to be inspired in learning more about the marine ecosystem and for the youth to be concerned about keeping the beauty of our marine biodiversity,” she said.

She added that we still have a lot to discover in our seas as researchers have revealed that we have explored about 0.05% of the totality of our ocean, just a size of a dot.

The exhibit has gone from Cebu City, recently in Davao City and now heading to Cagayan De Oro City on May 11 to 15.

The exhibit is conceived by The Mind Museum, a project of the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization whose thrust is to provide an extraordinary educational experience that inspires the public understanding of science.

| This article is also published in 105.9 Balita FM’s Facebook Page

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To know more about The Mind Museum, click the logo below:

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Or watch their video:

Bobbi Petalurca | May 5, 2016

When there are no longer birds to watch

It is only when you are closer that you will be able to appreciate things.

But it sounds easier said than done when you do it to birds.

I was fortunate enough to participate in a seminar related to communicating biodiversity. The seminar gave me the chance to birdwatch, or simply, marvel at the magnificence of the diversity of birds through binoculars.

At around 6:30 in the morning, I and my colleagues arrived at the Philippine Eagle Center, the sanctuary of the national symbol, the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) for a guided birdwatching to set the mood for our seminar.

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Photo from ASEAN Center for Biodiversity Facebook page

I was wrong when I thought of birdwatching as a tour to their caged birds, mostly belongs to the family of raptors such as the Brahminy Kites and White-bellied Sea Eagles. I undermined the whole birdwatching idea.  It was harder than I thought.

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http://www.birdwatch.ph: Brahminy Kite
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http://www.birdwatch.ph: White-bellied Sea Eagle

We were asked to grab binoculars and bird guides with a stressful instruction: If you spot a bird, describe what it looked like and check it on your 1-inch thick, glossy-printed bird books. Stressful because it is my first time to do it and perhaps, just like anybody else, I see all birds the same.  I think just seeing them is enough, I told myself.

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And so the birdwatching kits: a bird book and binoculars

After a while, we started to search the forest. We were looking up most of the time. Our guide Ej was skillful enough to understand the chirps and pointing us where it came from and what kind of birds are singing it-something that I also wanted to learn. Nightingales have amusing bird calling patterns. Melodic. Enchanting.

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Photo credits: Kane Rosa

I was so desperate to find a bird. They were elusive, playful or blending in the canopies. How I wish I had that powerful vision eagles have. These raptors can see eight times farther than that of the humans. So I would not need binoculars. By the end of the activity, I was lucky to have found around five of them, usually rufous nightingales, Olive-backed sunbirds and fantails.

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Birdwatch.ph: Olive-backed sunbird
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Trinket Constatino: Pied Fantail

I was elated by their forms, colors, sounds and of course, their freedom. Their freedom to glide and flap their wings tree to another, perch on the branches, sing and call calms every tired sense.  And it became possible because the trees provided them abode. They are far from threats of being killed in whatever way humans are capable of. They contributed to the protection and thriving of nature to the greatest extent they can do.

Not until we passed by Fighter.

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Fighter finally showing his injured wings.

The 3-year old eagle sat in his area, trying to hide his injured wings. He was gunshot in the mountains of Don Salvador, Mati, Davao Oriental that caused the amputation the main feather part of his left wing.

With the help of a staff at the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), we were able to take a groufie with him.

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Photo grabbed from John Frances Fuentes’ Facebook page

Fighter was not alone in the fight. Several other eagles were shot, most of them killed. The Philippine Eagles, being the largest and most powerful raptor in the world, the kind of bird only found in our country are also one of the most vulnerable to extinction. They are now critically endangered.

According to PEF, their existence is in danger because of two wrong practices: shooting and trapping, and deforestation. On February 24 this year, a national paper reported that an eagle named “Matatag” was shot by brothers in Baranggay Tambobong, Baguio District in Davao City.

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A veterinarian administers medicine on ‘Matatag.’ Photo from Philippine Eagle Foundation

According to Leonardo Pamplona, station commander of Baguio Police Station, the brothers Tiburcio, 24 and Rolando Aparesio, 18 mistook that the eagle was preying for their farm chickens so the older brother shot it with a caliber .22 rifle and hit eagle’s wings. The brothers, however voluntarily surrendered after bringing the wounded eagle to the PEF. Matatag was released by the PEF sometime in January last year. Read: Brothers surrender after shooting ‘Matatag’

On January 25, 2016, a one-year-old hawk-eagle died after being gunshot hitting the left lower breast. The bird was found at Quintuinan Hills of Camalig town in Albay. Read: Rare PH hawk-eagle shot dead in Albay

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Personnel of the Albay Park and Wildlife show the dead Philippine Hawk Eagle. The protected bird died due to gunshot wound at the lower left chest. Authorities said investigation still ongoing to locate the origin of the endangered eagle and identify the gunman.   Photo: Nino Luces, Manila Bulletin

And on August 16, 2015, “Pamana” was killed after being shot in her right breast shattering her left shoulder. Her dead body was seen near the creek in Mount Hamiguitan Range in Davao Oriental, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site and recently enlisted as one of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heritage Parks. Pamana was released by the PEF into the wild during the Independence Day. Read: Philippine Eagle Pamana found shot dead in Davao Oriental

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Pamana’s dead body. Photo by Rappler.com

The destruction the Philippine Eagles’ natural habitat also posed a threat to their existence. These wild raptors dwell in the rainforest and nests on large, old dipterocarp trees in lowland forests. Mountains and rainforests were gradually losing their potential to become home to the birds due to deforestation.

Benjamin Gregory Cruz, Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program Field Manager for Mt. Apo Region said one of the manners of deforestation is by debarking trees. People kill trees by gradually scraping its barks. They make the death of the tree an excuse to cut it down.

The recent forest fire incident at the peak of Mt. Apo last March 26, 2016 also jeopardized national bird’s habitat. The fire lasted for about three weeks and destroyed an estimated 1,000 hectares.

Adding to the list of causes of their endangerment are hunting for food and trade, collections, and pollution. Source: Bagheera

BUT WHY BOTHER?

We should save, protect, and conserve the Philippine Eagle because “it is an important natural and cultural heritage. It is a powerful symbol by which our people can rally around for the conservation of our natural resources. They also reign over the forest ecosystem, providing an umbrella of protection for all other species sharing its rainforest home. Their presence in the forests is an indicator of a healthy ecosystem”. (Philippine Eagle Foundation).

Put it in context, if the forest is healthy, our water sources such as our watersheds are sustainable. The PEF added that “a healthy forest helps control soil erosion, mitigate the effects of climate change, minimize flooding, and provides additional sources of food, medicine, clothing, and shelter for our people.”

They are endemic to the Philippines, one of the world’s rarest and has an alarming number of 400 pairs left in the country.

Another contributing factor in their dwindling population is their slow reproduction. They only lay one egg every two years. Parent eagles wait for their offspring to make it on their own (usually within two years) before producing another.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

We are no experts in handling, monitoring, and other technical stuff in protecting and preserving our national pride. But this should not be the reason not to do it. We have a lot in our hands than we thought. Here are some actions I can suggest we can do as ordinary citizens:

Initiate or Participate in Tree Planting Activities. You build a house when you don’t have one. And since our birds have been losing their homes, we should help in rebuilding it. Reforestation is the basic counter to deforestation. Plus, it benefits the ecosystem and supports biodiversity as a whole.

Volunteer in education campaigns and advocacies. “There is always strength in numbers,” says Mark Shields. Encourage more people to join the cause. Tug their heartstrings by educating them about the Philippine Eagles and what they can do to help protect and preserve them.

Report. Whenever you encounter incidents of cruelty to the Philippine Eagles in your community or you found a suspected eagle in your area, please don’t have second thoughts. Report them to your local Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR) or City Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO). You can also tap private environment organizations such as the Philippine Eagle Foundation.

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You can report through email via the Philippine Eagle Foundation’s website.

Donate. The programs and initiatives for the protection and conservation of the Philippine Eagles also need financial help. So if you might as well drop quite handful of pennies. It is one way to invest in our future and the future of the next generation.

Birds in general, are agents of dispersal, helping in the spreading of seeds and plant. They control pests and insects, saving crops and other plants from devastation. Source: Iowa Nature Mapping

Thus, aside from possessing an innate charm, they are an aid in keeping the balance in the world we live in.

As I watched and waited for other birds to flaunt their majestic forms, I alternately bend my neck to ease the pain. I wondered, what if there are no longer birds to look up to, perhaps, the pain would be much agonizing because of a destroyed environment.

That is when there are no more birds to watch.

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Thanks to the Philippine Eagle Foundation, ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, ASEAN, and Youth Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) most especially to Ms. Karen Lapitan for the opportunity.

In case you wanted to join in the cause of the Philippine Eagle Foundation such as to Donate, Adopt or Volunteer, check out their website by clicking their logo.

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Bobbi Petalurca | April 26, 2016

 

Nature’s Ironic Truth

This piece was published in my previous blog “Breath of Knowledge” but I was not able to maintain it because I forgot my access codes. Haha. So I am transferring it to its new home. Hope you like it.

I wish to wear a brilliant fabric, but not on this long strand of dark velvet rivers

Embedded with silver white pearls

In which harshly woven by detrimental dressmakers

That emergence is totally regardless

I wish to have the nature’s fresh scent, but not on this asphyxiating fume

So grimy and so gloom

That this unfavorable chamber who breath devastation

That will completely impair my fragile ozone

I wish to watch a verdant mountain, but not on this pile of stinking mess

So putrid, so used and discarded

The sprouting future where maturity was absolutely concealed

That made ones prospects a full-blown regress

I wish to provide a cozy aviary, but not on this bronzed deep-rooted stool

In which once a leafy sky-scraper

And touch the cerulean sky, but was replaced with infrastructure

That thought to make some job truly lighter

But now I wish to change the starving planet

Who thirst for mending such nuisance

And bring back the garnet twilight

And envision the hope in vast expanse

To lead the world in fortunate chance.

Bobbi Petalurca | February 13, 2009

Isa Kang Hampaslupa!

What would you do when someone tell you this?? Would you cringe? Get mad? Would you spit insults back?

Me? Not anymore. Rather, I would be honored and proud.

This morning, environmental group Greenpeace Philippines revamped the term and gave it a more dignified meaning. To be a hampaslupa is to support to our local and organic farmers by patronizing organic produce and promoting ecological agriculture.

The term ‘hampaslupa’ was used to degrade someone’s morale as it means destitution or lowly status. It is a rough, literal translation of the Spanish expression pega la tierra which is derogatory during the Spanish colonization in the Philippines.

However, its denotation also paved way for Greenpeace’s noble cause. Hampaslupa is literally translated as “to hit or till the soil”, an activity generally done by farmers.

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Greenpeace began a campaign dubbed as #IAmHampaslupa Regional Youth Forum in Davao today as a call on the youth to participate in promoting the importance of organic farming and the role of farmers in the producing safe and healthy food for all.

“If we want good, safe, affordable and nutritious food, we need to connect, converse, and support our local farmers, especially those who practice Ecological Agriculture to continue with their labor,” Greenpeace in a statement.

Greenpeace defined Ecological Agriculture as a farming system that works in harmony with nature. It is beneficial not only to the environment, but also to the livelihood of farmers in the face of a changing climate. It means that crops are cultivated without the use of synthetic fertilizers and genetically-modified organisms (GMO) as it may harm the environment and poison the consumers. It protects the soil,water, climate and promotes biodiversity.

The organization also encouraged the youth to challenge the presidential hopefuls in including Ecological Agriculture in their presidential agenda as a solution to food insecurity issues, among others.

I have been a patron of organic products especially when No-to-GMO became our advocacy call in our Environmental Communication class. However, I would be hypocrite if I would say that I don’t consume french fries and burgers from famous fast food chains. I did. Just like you do. Why? What would you buy if you have in front of you a bottle of coke for 12 pesos and a bottle of calamansi juice for 20 pesos? If you are tight on your budget, you would choose the carbonated drink. But you have a lot of extra money, it still depends, right?

It is our lifestyle. We might not noticed it but it has affected our health. And perhaps, we are afraid that we will be teased for being health conscious. But why would you care about what they say. A saying I read on Instagram says, “Remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.” It applies here.

And by the way, it is food. Don’t make food end your life instead of keeping you alive. So we better chose what can keep both inside (body) and outside (environment) us healthy, well and safe.

This time, let’s not get mad when we are called hampaslupa. Let’s make it a stand. #IAmHampaslupa Are you?

You can start your campaign by signing up here: IAmHampaslupa.ph and urge your next president to be a HAMPASLUPA!

Bobbi Petalurca