Wild Bird Club of the Philippines to hold 4th
Philippine Bird Festival
Lucci C. Coral
Imagine watching a live episode of a National
Geographic special through a pair of binoculars. Peeking into
the aerial world of birds provides a first-hand perspective
on how these animals act in their natural habitat, and can
also be an educating yet relaxing activity for its viewers.
Bird watching has become a very potent tourism
product for the country, and this year, the Wild Bird Club
of the Philippines (WBCP) will be holding the 4th Philippine
Bird Festival in Puerto Princesa City with the theme "Aba!
Kakaiba!" on September 12 and 13—just in time for
the winter migration of birds from mainland Asia and Japan.
The excitement brought by discovering these
aerial voyagers will be heightened by the activities of the
festival. A grand showcase of the different birds endemic
to our country will be shown through exhibits, lectures, film
showings, and a variety of activities for young participants.
These days of aerial sightings will also include a trip to
the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Park (September 13)
and Rasa Island (September 14) sponsored by Katala Foundation.
Aside from viewing one of the nominees for the Seven Wonders
of Nature, participants will also get a chance to view one
of the much-threatened Katala, or Philippine Cockatoo, which
is endemic to these two sites. Puerto Princesa and Rasa Island
are also included in the birdwatching hotspots in the Adventure
Philippines program of the DoT and R.O.X.
"The Philippine Bird Festival aims to
get people excited about nature and conservation through recreational
bird watching and bird photography," says nature enthusiast
Michael Lu, president of the WBCP, the country’s premier
bird-watching society, which held the first bird festival
in 2004. "Habitat loss from ill-planned development and
urban pressure is the greatest threat to bird populations
and other wildlife. The WBCP hopes to get communities and
professional planners actively involved in developing ways
to help wildlife through green spaces and nature-friendly
Observing these species has brought awe and
interest to those who have tried the adventure. During the
bird festival’s launch in R.O.X. held recently, members
of the WBCP showed immense enthusiasm about bird watching.
These men and women have come from different fields of work
and they converge to travel together and seek for more discoveries
through observing different species.
Whether in your own backyard or in a far
away marshland, bird watching provides a path to discovering
an aerial world. Aside from travel expenses, bird watching
only requires a pair of binoculars, an open mind, and an interest
in witnessing an enchanting event unfolding. One of its members,
UP professor and bird expert Carmela Española, discovered
a new species named "Calayan Rail" while doing research
in Calayan, the largest island in the Babuyan Group of Islands.
Our country is naturally endowed with more
than 200 endemic bird species, and with the aggressive promotion,
the big population of bird watchers all over the globe can
come and have a peek at these aerial creatures. This advocacy
does not only promote Philippine tourism but the attachment
to these flying beings naturally encourages environmental
protection as well.
"The other reason why I am so excited
about bird watching in the Philippines is because we will
be bringing into mainstream tourism a lot of communities which
are still not part of it, such as Balara City in Bataan,"
Tourism secretary Ace Durano said. According to him, there
is a big market of birdwatchers—millions in United Kingdom
alone. However, putting together this tourism product was
challenging since a bird watcher’s manual is required,
which contains photos and descriptions of different bird species
endemic to the Philippines. It also has to be included in
packaged tours through travel tour operators, and bird watching
guides, such as biology graduates, were trained to lead bird
watching groups, especially beginners.
Many organizations and companies have given
their share to make this event possible. Included in the participating
organizations for the Philippine Bird Festival are Katala
Foundation, Birdwatch Palawan, WWF-Philippines, Conservation
International, Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation,
Isla Biodiversity Conservation, Philippine Butterfly Habitat
Conservation Society, Art Thrive, My Zoo Foundation, and Birding
Adventure Philippines. 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,
and the Nature Photographic Society (Singapore) have confirmed
their participation in this year’s project.
Promoting tourism through bird watching is
a special project of the WBCP in partnership with Philippine
Department of Tourism (DOT), Puerto Princesa City, Team Energy
Foundation, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Manila Southwoods Golf
and Country Club, Landco Pacific Corporation, Katala Foundation,
Birdwatch Palawan, Aigle and the Recreational Outdoor Exchange
(R.O.X.) Bird watching is included in the Adventure Philippines
project of the DoT and R.O.X., which is committed to building
and nurturing the adventure travel community.
Everybody is invited to join the festival
and discover the joy of watching these birds in their natural
habitat. For more information, visit www.birdwatch.ph.
(Photos courtesy of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines)