More than 2500 visitors attended the bird festival
The unique birds and bird sites of Cebu took
center stage at the 3rd Philippine Bird Festival-Sugbu, a
bird appreciation and conservation campaign that gathered
2,500 school children of Cebu at the Waterfront Hotel September
21 and at the Olango Wildlife Sanctuary September 22.
Framed print of the Cebu Flowerpecker was presented to the festival sponsors |
Organized by volunteers
from the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP), a
birdwatching hobby group, the annual festival was in
its third year but was being held in Cebu for the first
time. "The third Philippine Bird Festival is all the
more significant because it is being held outside Metro
Manila for the very first time," said WBCP Michael Lu.
"Exhibitors from all over the Philippines, as well as
from neighboring countries, [converged] on Cebu to highlight
the state of the country's wild habitats and diverse
This year's festival trained the spotlight on bird species
endemic to Cebu island as well as on special wetland
spots in the province that harbor visiting migratory
birds. With theme "Just watch, don't catch,"
the event relayed the message that birds are best appreciated
in their natural habitat, not in captivity.
The message likewise
discouraged direct contact with wild birds, which in
turn could reduce the possibility of bird flu infection.
"This year's theme… can't be more appropriate," noted
Nilo Arribas Jr., festival chair for Cebu. "The Philippines
has been spared [from] the bird flu so far and this
has given us more reason to participate and interact
in a fun-filled atmosphere."
Through photo exhibits, coloring activities, face-painting
sessions and lectures, children at the Waterfront leg
of the festival discovered two of Cebu's natural treasures:
the Cebu Flowerpecker (Dicaeum quadricolor), touted
the rarest of the world's rare birds, and the Black
Shama (Copsychus cebuensis), an endangered species that
inhabits Cebu's last patches of lowland forest.
Siloy dancers from the Municipality
of Alcoy added to the
Booths of participating conservation groups,
festival sponsors and international guests likewise treated
the children, with their teachers and parents, to fun drills
and exhibits about birds in other parts of Asia and the thrills
Olango Island schoolchildren take
turns at the spotting scope |
At the Olango leg, co-sponsored
by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), around 250 school
children from the community got to experience actual
birdwatching with volunteer guides from WBCP and Cebu
Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (CBCF). The
students learned to identify the migratory birds taking
rest stops in their neighborhood, among which was the
Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes), a vulnerable species
that breeds in Russia, Korea and China.
Conservation groups that joined that festival were Cebu
Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, WWF-Philippines,
Philippine Eagle Foundation, Center for Environmental
Awareness and Education, Katala Foundation and Isla
Biodiversity Conservation. International participants
were the Wild Bird Society of Taipei (Taiwan), the Asian
Raptor Research and Conservation Network
(Malaysia), the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and
the City of Seosan, South Korea. The morning before the festival,
participating groups and delegates had a chance to visit South
Road Properties, an urban wetland in Cebu City that harbors
61 species of birds, including the endemic Philippine Duck
Sponsors of the festival were Team-Energy Foundation, the
Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Cebu City Mayor's Office, Sulpicio
Lines, Pioneer Insurance, Harbor Star Shipping Services, Georgia
Club and WWF-Philippines.