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Balanga bird-watching site attracts visitors

By MAR T. SUPNAD
Manila Bulletin
February 1, 2010, 7:41 pm

BALANGA CITY , Bataan — Mayor Joet S. Garcia’s programs in ecotourism in this city, particularly on bird-watching activities, have attracted tourists and local visitors in this coastal area.

Garcia and the City Council headed by Vice Mayor Noel Valdecanas have poured in a large amount in their bid to promote tourism particularly on bird watching in the coastal villages of Tortugas, Sibacan, and Porto Rivas.

Newsmen learned that officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and bird experts conducted over the weekend a census of the water birds here and a pack of tour guides from the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) Balanga campus assisted them.

The five tour guides from the PWU Balanga campus were faculty members Jayson Cayanan and Frances Rosselle Gonzales, and tourism students Chyrwin Field, Jinky Larion, and Pamela Banzon.

To give them more insights, the five underwent a series of tour guiding seminars conducted by the Provincial Tourism Office, and the Balanga Tourism Office.

Included in the training package is the development of skill for identifying and naming the migratory and endemic birds found in the wetlands and mudflats here.

It was learned that the Department of Tourism (DoT) has included an area in the villages of Sibacan, Tortugas, and Puerto Rivas, this city, as among the 12 official bird-watching sites in the Philippines .

Garcia said the remarkable boost in the ecotourism in this city, particularly on being a bird-watching site, has spawned tour guiding job opportunities here.

According to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines , the wetlands in this city attract one of the largest concentrations of migrant shorebirds and waterfowls anywhere in the Philippines .

Just recently, the city government here successfully held the two-day “5th Philippine Bird Festival,” that was attended by 5,000 bird watching delegates from six Asian and European countries, students, tourism and local officials.

Dubbed the country’s largest celebration of avifaunal diversity and bird lore awareness, Tourism Secretary Ace Durano was himself impressed by the activity, and vowed to promote the Balanga City Nature and Wetland Park as a model bird sanctuary in the Philippines .

Visiting here upon the invitation of Garcia, author of the theme “Ibong Dayo, Kaibigan Tayo,” Bataan Gov. Tet Garcia, and Rep. Abet S. Garcia (2nd District, Bataan), who fully extended full support to the preservation of bird sanctuary here, Durano said that he was amazed by the bird festival after he first saw the arrival of various birds with different colors that flocked along the fishponds in the coastal village of Tortugas, this city.