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10th Philippine Bird Festival draws thousands

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola
December 10, 2015

Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/10th-philippine-bird-festival-draws-thousands/

As migratory birds flock to Bataan for the season, thousands of birdwatchers, conservationists, nature enthusiasts, and school-children from all over have come to the capital of Balanga City for the 10th Philippine Bird Festival, a three-day event that ends today.

With the theme "Ibon at Kalikasan, Kayamanan ng Bayan (Birds and Nature, Our Nation's Treasure)," the Philippine Bird Festival aims to raise awareness and appreciation of Philippine birds. It is spearheaded by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP), a non-government organization promoting recreational birdwatching and the responsible enjoyment of nature.

"The main purpose of the bird fair is to showcase what birds are for, their ecological effect and contribution," said WBCP President Gina Mapua, who pointed out that birds are good indicators of how healthy the environment is.

Speaking at the recent launching of the event in Quezon City, Mapua said: "Without birds, there will be no forests – they are main planters of our forests. They are our ecological friends."

"What we're trying to push is the protection of birds because they protect us," she added.

Every year, the festival, in partnership with local government units (LGUs), academic institutions and environment conservation groups, goes to various places in the country to highlight bird species unique in every island.

For this year, the Green Racquet-tail (Prionitirus luconensis), an endangered parrot species making its last stand in the forests of Subic in Zambales and Morong town, Bataan, takes the spotlight in the 10th Philippine Bird Festival, as featured in its logo.

Balanga City Mayor Jose Enrique "Joet" Garcia III, who graced the launch with his wife Isabel, expressed gratitude in hosting this year's festival. This is the city's second time to host the event, having hosted the 5th Philippine Bird Festival last 2009.

"We are very happy because when we first hosted the event in 2009, our people, especially the school children, fell in love with the festival. That brought us really to not only conserve our wetland, but to also hold our own bird festival," said the mayor.

Inspired by the festival's vision, the city initiated their annual Ibong Dayo Festival, for which they won the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines, Inc. and the Department of Tourism's (ATOP-DOT) Pearl Award for Best Tourism Event in 2014. It highlights the migrant birds that yearly flock to the city's coast during Europe's winter season.

"It has done wonders for our city, most especially in the education of our children. Because of the festival's unique way of sharing knowledge about the birds and the environment, we're very happy that children are very engaged in protecting the environment," he said.

Garcia said this year's Ibong Dayo Festival will be held simultaneously with the Philippine Bird Festival.

Read more at: http://www.mb.com.ph/10th-philippine-bird-festival-draws-thousands/#tQaaOkjJ6DVRydEd.99