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Birder Profiles: Q&A with the 2019 EXECOM

by Ruth Francisco

Mike, businessman
Born and raised in Manila

Tinggay, catering services manager Born in Manila, raised in QC

Yani, emergency services officer
Born and raised in Cebu

Jopiping, businessman (running some small family businesses)
Born in Mandaluyong, but raised in Marikina (Marikeño through and through)

Nel/Ternel, visual art/film instructor
Born and raised in Manila

Favorite street food/local dish or fruit

Mike: turon
Tinggay: mangoes
Yani: Native delicacies
Jopiping: Kanto siomai, various grilled pork innards and almost anything with gata [coconut cream], as long as it is savory
Nel: Anything, especially veggies

Favorite childhood games

Mike: checkers
Tinggay: monopoly
Yani: Filipino outdoor games, volleyball, badminton
Jopiping: tongits with money involved (i smell an impeachment after this haha)
Nel: sarangola… lahat ng larong kalye

Childhood dream job

Mike: tour guide
Tinggay: diplomat
Yani: olympian
Jopiping: marine biologist
Nel: wala… wala akong choice “artist” daw ako eh
Heckling and trolling Mike Lu

What prompted me to try birding

Mike: When I went to Singapore and saw my friend’s binoculars and field guide in the late 1990s (I think)
Tinggay: Leni Sutcliffe needed a birding companion in 2008
Yani: Sometime in 2011, I was testing a camera during a workshop break and I needed a new subject (other than the humans in the room). I looked outside and saw a brown bird in a grassy lot. Ah, one of those mayas. I observed how it was delicately perching on branches and barbed wire, alternately scanning the ground below, and pouncing on spotted prey, mostly insects. From its elevated perch, I realized I was looking at something else – something serious, purposeful, powerful. The way it hunts, it means business. It was not a maya. Later I learned that this bird is a Brown Shrike, and it made a connection to birding.
Jopiping: Circa 2006, I was out on a date at Blue Wave Macapagal before SM MOA was built. As I got down from the car, something large flew from the tall grass beyond the parking lot. I asked myself if that was an owl, since owls were the only birds I knew that flew at night. However, I was very skeptical because I also knew that there were no owls in the Philippines since there were no mentions of owls in any of Philippine textbooks. Curiosity always gets the best of me and that’s why I looked for an expert to confirm what I saw. That’s when I got in touch with Mike and the Club. He confirmed that it was the Grass Owl that I saw. But my love affair for birding did not start until 4 years later.
Nel: Hindi ako hardcore birder, pero kapag may time ako when travelling (with Tintin), hindi nawawala ang birding at I always observe as in observe a lot. Kapag sinabi kong observe lahat as in lahat. Napilitan lang pero it turns out na sobrang therapeutic pala sya.

Spark bird

Mike: Blue-throated Bee-eater
Tinggay: Long-tailed Shrike
Yani: Brown Shrike
Jopiping: Grass Owl (Funny fact though, it was only in 2018 that I counted my spark bird as my lifer)
Nel: Di ko na matandaan

Most memorable birding adventure

Mike: Bogota to Manizales through Magdalena Valley and Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia
Tinggay: Seeing the mating dance of the Phil. Eagle from Mt. Tolomo in Davao
Yani: By far, Subic! Excellent and easy birding with a good number of endemics and specialities
Jopiping: Isabela Oriole in Baggao. Got 2 CE [critically endangered] mega-lifers on that trip, including the Philippine Crocodile.
Nel: Climbing up in Mt. Natib, I saw the White-browed shortwing. Epic!

Most wanted bird or birding site

Mike: I shall never tire fo the Rufous Hornbill
Tinggay: Spoonbill Sandpiper
Yani: Tubbataha Reef (I would give up half my lungs just so I can afford to visit this paradise)
Jopiping: Any of the bleeding hearts or broadbills (kinda my nemesis birds at the moment)
Nel: Sulu hornbill…pero madami eh

Personal view on using bird calls or playback for birding

Mike: NO!
Tinggay: I personally do not agree with using bird calls
Yani: Nice to have but not always required
Jopiping: Should be used sparingly or not at all. When it’s just me birding, I go back to the basics and avoid it.
Nel: I don’t like playback. PERIOD!


Advice I’d give my seven-year-old-self

Candidate #1 (Mike): “Be more outspoken.”
Candidate #2 (Tinggay): “Go out and play some more.”
Candidate #3 (Yani): “Hey 7-year old Yani, if you ever “parachute” again from the roof using Mama’s umbrella, at least wear elbow and knee pads. Enjoy gravity.”
Candidate #4 (Nel): “‘Wag na huwag mong pakikinggan yung mga a-holes na yun. Gawin mo lang ang tama at ang dapat mong gawin and be the best!”

On spending a P10M lottery cash prize within 24 hours

Candidate #3 (Yani): Buy everyone at WBCP round trip airline tickets to go birding! [Awwww]
Candidate #4 (Nel): Anong time ang start ng spending? Will buy a life insurance and get a house with everything in it.
Candidate #5 (Jopiping): Immediately buy myself a patch of land up north between the sea and forest and make it a community wildlife sanctuary and a carbon sink forest. And throw in a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm PF lens to sweeten the deal more

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