Endangered native parrot to take center stage
The Philippine Bird Festival, the country’s largest celebration of avifaunal diversity and bird lore awareness, marks its 10th event milestone on December 9-11 in the historic province of Bataan.
Organized by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, the event is expected to gather birdwatchers, conservationists, and nature enthusiasts from at least 25 organizations from the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, China, and Japan.
Parrot’s last stand
Themed “Ibon at kalikasan, kayamanan ng bayan” (“Birds and nature, our nation’s treasure”), the festival trains the spotlight on Bataan’s diverse bird life with particular focus on the Green Racquet-tail (Prioniturus luconensis), a rare parrot that is making its last stand in the forests of Subic in Bataan’s Morong town.
“A Luzon-endemic and endangered species, the Green Racquet-tail is threatened by the loss of its lowland forest habitat, hunting, and pet trade. The only place in Luzon where it can be seen regularly is at the Subic Watershed Forest Reserve and the adjacent forests of Bataan National Park. The parrot’s numbers are dwindling to a point that the population may no longer be viable in the long-term,” says wildlife biologist Dr. Carmela Española, who has done a Luzon-wide survey of the remaining parrot population in 2009 to 2010.
The Green Racquet-tail, featured in the festival’s main logo, will share the spotlight with 12 other bird species that have been adopted by Bataan’s 11 municipalities and one component city. Each LGU will have a logo of its adopted bird.
Ibong Dayo Festival
This is the second time the Philippine Bird Festival comes to Bataan. The first time was in 2009, when Balanga City hosted the 5th Philippine Bird Festival that highlighted the migrant birds that yearly flock to the city’s coasts. Inspired by the festival’s vision, the Balanga city government thereafter initiated the annual Ibong Dayo Festival, for which they won the 2014 ATOP-DOT Pearl Award in 2014 for Best Tourism Event.
“We are very happy to bring back the Philippine Bird Festival to Bataan, especially seeing that the message of preserving habitats for migratory birds, which was the theme of the 5th Philippine Bird Festival in Balanga City, has taken root through the annual award-winning Ibong Dayo Festival. It speaks of the commitment of the people of Bataan and their leaders towards the conservation of their natural heritage,” says Gina Mapua, president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.
A range of educational activities awaits festival guests and participants. Young children and schoolkids will be treated to fun games that teach. There will be talks on ecosystems services; a conservation forum focused on Bataan’s biodiversity and the threats to it; and an ecotourism forum intended to spark ideas through the sharing of success stories and best practices from across the Asian region.
Admission to the festival, which will take place at the Capitol Grounds Oval, is free.
The 10th Philippine Bird Festival is made possible by the support of the Bataan provincial government, the Balanga city government, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Tourism, Primer Group of Companies, CKM Lu Enterprises, AES Philippines Power Foundation, Villar Foundation, and Kenko Optics.
About the Philippine Bird Festival
The Philippine Bird Festival is the country’s first and largest educational event focused on raising awareness and appreciation of Philippine birds. Held annually in partnership with local government units, academic institutions, or conservation NGOs, the festival goes to different places in the Philippines to highlight the unique and diverse bird species that occur in the disparate islands of the archipelago. More than 600 species of birds have been recorded throughout the country, of which at least 230 are endemic, which means they can be found only in the islands of the Philippines and nowhere else in the world.
About the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (www.birdwatch.ph) was established in July 2003 to promote recreational birdwatching and the responsible enjoyment of nature. It has since grown into a vibrant club of more than 200 members. Though run entirely by volunteers, the club has been instrumental in introducing the hobby of birdwatching to the ordinary Filipino through free bird walks, the annual Philippine Bird Festival, and various educational activities. An advocate of citizen science, the club also keeps an extensive record of bird sightings in the Philippines and assists the DENR in the annual Asian Waterbird Census. It is also helping the Department of Tourism promote birdwatching as an ecotourism activity.