September 27, 2010
By Anna Valmero, loQal.ph
WBCP VP Anna Gonzales with HK delegates
Samson So, John Allcock and Bong Shum
DAVAO CITY, DAVAO DEL SUR – Not even
a travel ban to the Philippines can prevent bird watchers
to show enthusiasm in promoting ecotourism and wildlife conservation.
Despite the travel ban due to last month’s
hostage-taking incident, bird watchers from the Hong Kong
Birdwatching Society (HKBS) attended the recent Asian Bird
Fair in Davao.
Samson So says he and other members of the
HKBS attended the fair to show support for bird watching and
sustainable ecotourism in the region.
“Our attendance to the event should
not be affected because of one person’s fault,”
“We hope that by attending the event,
other Hong Kong nationals will know that travel in the country
(Philippines) is not what they think. We also want to show
support to the Filipino organizers and birder friends.”
Because of the travel ban, So says he and
his colleagues were not issued travel insurance by their respective
travel agencies so they opted to apply for a bank insurance
to cover their trip to the Philippines.
“My travel agency failed to issue a
travel insurance so I got one from a bank. Many of my friends
are concerned if it is safe for me to go and I explained to
them not to put too much pressure on the Philippines because
of the travel ban,” says So.
“Accidents happen all the time and
thanks to increasing awareness about the Philippines being
a good spot for eco-adventures such as birding, mountain climbing
and the like, this country has good potential to reclaim its
tourism status,” he adds.
A birdwatcher and nature photographer, So
says he has been promoting birdwatching in the Philippines
to his friends in Hong Kong.
The Philippines is home to more than 600
bird species, more than 180 of these are endemic including
the Philippine eagle. So says this will entice “many
people, especially nature-lovers, to go visit the country.”
Mike Lu, co-founder and president of Wild
Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP), expressed gratitude to
the Hong Kong nationals’ support not only for bird watching
but tourism in the Philippines.
“This bodes well for the country. They
went here despite the lack of a travel insurance given the
travel ban and that means a lot because foreigners are wary
of going outside their country without this insurance,”
Delegates at the Opening Ceremonies
of the 1st Asian Bird Fair
Around 35 birders from international groups
attended the event, including those from the Bird Conservation
Society of Thailand, Malaysian Nature Society, Nature Society
of Singapore, Wild Bird Society of Taipei (Taiwan), Shanghai
Wild Bird Society (China), Wild Bird Society of Tainan (Taiwan),
Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network, Borneo Bird
Club, Hornbill Research Foundation (Thailand), the Biodiversity
and Nature Conservation Association (Myanmar), the Wetland
Trust (Thailand), Bird Conservation Nepal and the Oriental
Bird Club (United Kingdom).
“Birders, especially the serious ones,
have a ‘lifer’ list of the birds they want to
see and if they don’t go here in the Philippines, they
will not be able to tick off our endemic birds from their
list,” adds Lu.
(Photos by Anna Valmero, loQal.ph)