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WBCP members lend their support to Balanga, Bataan’s 2nd bird festival celebrating migrant birds

by Cristina R. CInco

The Ibong Dayo Festival in Balanga, Bataan is the 3rd bird festival I have attended. Literally, it means “foreign birds” but is actually a celebration of the coming of the migratory birds that visit the town of Balanga as a stopover point to rest and feed before flying further to their winter destinations. Often, these migratory birds’ destinations are as far off as Australia. In the meantime, though, they were visiting Balanga and this was enough reason for celebration.

Balanga is the capital of Bataan, a province located some 124 kms northeast of Manila. Travelling through the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the San Fernando Road from Pampanga, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines members Anna Gonzales, Jo Solis, Des Cambaliza, Nikkidy Reaulubit, Anthony Syson and myself traveled on 7 December 2011 with the 2nd Ibong Dayo Festival as our destination. We left at 6am and arrived shortly by 8am.

Other Wild Bird Club of the Philippines members Mike Lu, Peter and Leni Sutcliffe, Susie Gavinio, Ixi and Gina Mapua, Arnel Telesforo, Tom and Mai, Mark Jason Argallon left a day earlier while Linda Gocon drove early morning from Pampanga to attend to the preparations for the event.

Such is the dedication of the Balangeños and our club members in ensuring the annual welcome party for these migratory birds – much like welcoming and showing the famous Filipino hospitality to long-time friends!

Wild Bird Club Members with Department of Tourism Asst. Sec. Domingo Enerio III. Photo by Cristina Cinco.

The local government of the city of Balanga is bent on raising the environmental awareness of its citizenry. The three-day festival targeted activities mainly for the youth. They had poster making, website design and photo-contests for students using these foreign birds as their motifs.

Most of the activities were held in Balanga’s pride, the Wetland and Nature Park, where the wetland sea side open space with mangroves segued into an interactive park where one can observe the birds from its viewing decks or simply enjoy the fresh air while strolling in the beach area. Mangrove -planting and a beach clean-up were part of the activities initiated by the local government. Wild Bird Club members handled the origami demonstrations, coloring activities , drawing lessons, lectures on birds and their migratory routes. Bird watching was done from the wetland park’s viewing deck.

Wild Bird Club President Anna joining the planting of mangroves. Photo by Cristina Cinco.
Mike Lu doing the audio visual presentation. Photo by Anthony Sayson.
Tandem Ixi and Gina Mapua demonstrating origami to elementary students on how to do a crane . Photo by Cristina Cinco.
Jo Solis helping out in the coloring activities. Photo by Cristina Cinco.

I was part of the Education Committee that did the lecture on migratory birds. The elementary students were the most enthusiastic amongst our audience. Contests were held after each lecture to test the student’s retention of facts. Lectures focused on migratory birds highlighting on the Black-winged Stilt, Common Kingfisher, Barn Swallow, Common Sandpiper,  Common Redshank, and the Yellow Wagtail. Our committee members were so inspired by the enthusiasm shown by the students. With this experience, we felt that there is indeed hope in the youth of the future.

Students fascinated at Linda’s lecture on migratory birds in Pilipino. Photo by Cristina Cinco.
High School students gathering thrash along the beach. Photo by Cristina Cinco.
Students cueing to observe birds using the spotting scopes manned by Tom and Mai. Photo by Cristina Cinco.

The migratory birds are incidentals to the bigger picture of environmental awareness. The local government of Balanga sure knows how to start them young and make it a part of their legacy. We hope that other towns and cities take their cue from them. I am already looking forward to many more Ibong Dayo Festivals and I intend to be part of it in the years to come.

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