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Back to Nature

By Camille King

Living in Metro Manila during a pandemic emphasizes the lack of and need for outdoor, green, clean, safe and accessible spaces that are nature and wildlife sanctuaries. By accessible, open to all and a few minutes travel within the metro. Just like New York City has Central Park. The City of San Francisco has Golden Gate Park. Paris has Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg within the city center.

According to the World Health Organization, Covid-19 is transmitted in crowded places, close-contact settings and confined, enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. As such, it is safer to do outdoor activities which there are very little of in the metro.

As quarantine restrictions eased, inter-island and provincial travel opened, Metro Manila residents with the budget and time took the opportunity to drive to nearby provinces within Luzon for outdoor time. Others flew to other islands for beach vacations.

To escape the city for a few days in January 2021, my mom, daughter and I decided that Amanpulo Resort located in Pamalican Island, a remote private island marooned in the middle of the Sulu Sea was the best place for our get-away. 

Pamalican Island is accessible via private plane, an hour flight from Manila. It is 360 kilometers away, southwest of Metro Manila.  

Approaching the island, image taken from the aircraft. 

I loved that the welcome note in our Casita contains an artwork of a Black-naped Oriole.

This was my first trip outside of Metro Manila since I discovered birds in my garden during the pandemic. Excited was an understatement. I checked the bird checklist beforehand in Ebird website. 

Amanpulo worked with Jasmin Meren (Biologist, Biodiversity and conservation expert, Wild Bird Club of the Phiippines member) to document the bird species and develop the birdwatching program in the island. 

The resort provided me an Information packet containing images of the birds and wildlife.

I did not observe all of them but was able to capture images of most. Below are birds found also in Metro Manila.

Black-naped Oriole

White-breasted Woodswallow

Asian Glossy Starling

Brown Shrike

Collared Kingfisher

Philippine Pied Fantail

While the following are found in less populated areas, off-shore islands, like Palawan. 

Pied Imperial-Pigeon

Island Collared Dove

Common Emerald Dove

Philippine Megapode

Barred Rail

Slender-billed Crow

Pacific Reef Heron

(Image 18)

Intermediate Egret

Aside from birds, I observed other wildlife.

Newly hatched sea turtles to be released into the sea.

Palawan Water Monitor Lizard

Huge Bat

Hermit Crabs

Fungi

Of course, the sunset and views in Amanpulo are breath-taking.

I am grateful for going back to nature and experiencing Pamalican Island. However, it is sad that I have to go outside of Metro Manila to enjoy nature. Moreover, enjoying nature should not be a privilege but an experience accessible to all. I hope that in my own little way of sharing bird, wildlife and nature photos, others realize the importance of preserving existing nature areas in Metro Manila. An environment that is good for wildlife is good for humans. 

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