By Jessica Santiago
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Dressed in light-colored
shirts to blend in with their surroundings, they prowl around
Metro Manila in search of their prey.
But members of the Wild Bird Club of the
Philippines (WBCP) do not trap or kill the game they spot.
Instead, they hone in on their targets, not with guns but
with binoculars and cameras.
Founded in 2003, the club has been taking
city slickers on a bird watching adventure within Metro Manila
to help them develop an appreciation for nature and its feathered
“One of the club’s main objectives is to raise
awareness about bird watching and we do this through guided
trips,” said Jops Josef, a government employee and WBCP
member since 2007.
“Bird watching is relaxing and is a good chance to
escape from the stresses of the day,” said Ned Liuag,
a marketing manager at a Makati bank and one of the group’s
For Liuag, bird watching is like being away from the city
but without leaving it. By putting on a bird watcher’s
binoculars and walking among the trees, a person can become
“one with nature.”
The thrill of the chase was also part of the bird-watching
experience: walking as quietly as possible so as not to scare
your prey, shooting them with a camera for posterity and recognizing
each bird call.
“It’s like hunting but without the blood,”
For the first-timer, spotting birds with binoculars and identifying
their calls can be difficult.
At times, the birds may be a no-show. Should this happen,
Liuag has this advice: “The point is to feel the ground
beneath your feet and hear the rustling of the grass.”
He noted that people can get too preoccupied with their binoculars
that they forget to do what they came for in the first place—watch
Bird watching is about learning how the birds live, how they
fly and how they look; people do not always need binoculars
or scopes to do that, Liuag said.
Part of the experience is also seeing “lifers,”
representatives of a bird species a person sees for the first
Josef said there are 600 species of birds in the Philippines
and spotting even one kind for the first time is something
to remember because the longer someone goes bird watching,
the fewer the species that can be spotted.
Still, Josef said the activity does not depend on the number
of lifers one can find in one trip: “It’s about
being proud of all the species we have in the Philippines
and enjoying what we have.”
The WBCP is still giving guided bird trips for the remainder
of summer between 5:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. or between 3 p.m. and
One of the sites they are offering this season is the Las
Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecoutourism
Area along Coastal Road, declared a critical habitat by former
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on April 27, 2007, through
Proclamation No. 1412.
The club also offers trips to the University of the Philippines
in Diliman, Quezon City, and Mt. Palay-Palay in Cavite.
Those interested can schedule a guided trip in groups of
at least five through WBCP’s official Facebook page
at www.facebook.com/BirdwatchPhilippines or send an e-mail