by Karla Maquiling
August 7, 2008
There’s no better timing for the fourth Philippine Bird
Festival than this September, which marks the start of the
annual winter migration of birds from mainland China and Japan
to tropical countries such as the Philippines.
Palawan Peacock |
seek warmer climes, birdwatching hobbyists, conservationists,
and eco tourism promoters flock to Puerto Princesa City
in Palawan, which, with its diverse birdlife and pristine
forests, fits the theme “Aba, Kakaiba!”
to a tee.
The festival, which opens at the Puerto Princesa Coliseum
on September 12 with an exhibit of rarely seen photos
of Philippine birds, displays, lectures, films, and
art activities for children, aims to encourage Filipinos
to pursue eco-friendly recreational activities such
as birdwatching and bird photography.
Birdwatching, says Department of Tourism secretary Ace
Durano, will “open up unestablished destinations
to the world.”
The Philippines, with its 580 different
bird species–176 of which are unique to the archipelago–is
expected to attract foreigners interested in eco travel.
Beyond its eco tourism thrust, “Aba, Kakaiba!”
also wants to educate the public on the sad state of bird
“Habitat loss from ill-planned development and urban
pressure is the greatest threat to birdlife and other wildlife,”
says nature enthusiast Michael Lu, president of the Wild Bird
Club of the Philippines, a bird conservation group that started
the first Philippine Bird Festival in 2004.
“We hope to get communities and professional planners
actively involved in developing ways to help wildlife through
green spaces and nature-friendly property management,”
Other activities at the Philippine Bird Festival are visits
to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and
Rasa Island. The latter is the last stronghold of the endemic
and threatened Philippine cockatoo, whose population has declined
by up to 60 percent due to logging, bird trading, and hunting.
These two areas are designated birdwatching hotspots under
Adventure Philippines, a joint project of DOT and the Recreational
Outdoor Exchange (ROX) that aims to push tourism traffic in
less visited areas.
Local biodiversity and conservation groups Katala Foundation,
Birdwatch Palawan, WWF-Philippines, Conservation International,
Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Isla Biodiversity
Foundation, Tubbataha Reefs Marine Natural Park Office, Philippine
Butterfly Habitat Conservation Society, Western Philippines
University, Artribe, My Zoo Foundation, Municipality of Taytay
and Municipality of Narra are participating in the festival.
International organizations such as the Asian Raptor Research
and Conservation Network, Wild Bird Society of Taipei, the
Chinese Wild Bird Federation, Xiamen Birdwatching Society,
Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, Nature Society (Singapore)
and the Nature Photographic Society (Singapore) will also
The 4th Philippine Bird Festival is sponsored by the Department
of Tourism, the City of Puerto Princesa, Team Energy Foundation,
Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Landco Pacific, Malampaya Joint
Venture Partners, Katala Foundation, Birdwatch Palawan, Aigle,
and the Recreational Outdoor Exchange, Southeast Asia’s
first and biggest outdoor superstore.
4th Philippine Bird Festival
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan