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Birder Portraits: A Family Special – Birding With the Gomezes

By Gabbi Reyes

The holidays are upon us, and you know what that means—more birding and bonding with our loved ones.  And of course, the season won’t be complete without an eBon holiday special.  We’re learning more about not just one club member but three!

Bom, Gabby, and Luis Gomez are a birding family trio and one of WBCP’s newest recruits.  One year into the club, they’ve already made their mark and have joined a great number of trips.  Bom is a lawyer and the father to Gabby and Luis, his talented kids.  When he isn’t birding, he tends to his plants, plays tennis and finds adventure in good food with his family.

Gabby is a graphic designer who has a great appreciation for art in “all its mediums”, while Luis is a student who has a knack for voice acting.

The family that birds together…spots more lifers!

Fun fact:  The Gomezes have an honorary family member by the name of Moira Vergel De Dios.  She is also a talented creative like her best friend, Gabby, and they all joined the club together.

G:  When did you start birdwatching and how?  Tell us your story.

Bom:  I started birdwatching in December of 2021 when I joined a guided trip conducted by WBCP.  I was always interested in birds and other animals as a child, however, I only found out about birdwatching around 8 years ago.  I never really got to pursue the hobby because my wife has ornithophobia and no one else in the family was really interested in birdwatching.  Fast forward to 2021, I found out that Moira, my daughter Gabby’s best friend, was also interested in birdwatching so I joined BPC (Birding Philippines Community) to get more info about the hobby.  While going through the community page, I saw an announcement regarding an upcoming guided trip.  I wasted no time in signing up Gabby, my son Luis, Moira and myself.  Mike Lu was the guide for this birding trip.  Heavy downpour notwithstanding, we were still able to see 22 species.  I told Mike after the trip “masyado mo namang ginalingan.”  The rest is history.

Gabby:  I started birdwatching when my dad and my best friend Moira started discussing their shared interest in birds.  The first time my dad showed me the Black-naped Orioles that sometimes visited our backyard tree, I was so excited!  I had never heard of or seen that bird before.  My dad then signed all of us (Moira included) up for WBCP’s guided tour in LPPCHEA and I’ve pretty much been hooked ever since!  I never knew the Philippines had so many lovely species of birds, so seeing the field guide with 700+ birds listed really sparked my interest.  I felt as if I had been underappreciating our nation’s biodiversity this whole entire time, and decided I would make it my mission to learn more.

Luis:  In December last year, I joined a guided bird watching trip with my family, and my sister’s best friend. This is where I saw the Brown Shrike, my spark bird.

G:  What was your experience like as club newbies?

The Gomezes:  We felt welcomed because a lot of people helped us when we were just starting out.

G: What do you enjoy most about birding?

Bom:  Exploring nature and seeing birds in their natural habitat.  I also enjoy being in the company of other birders.

Gabby:  I love that it allows me to learn so much about the Philippines and takes me to places I would have never gone to had I not been a birder.  Learning about bird habitats allowed me to learn about different native plants and terrain.  When there are no birds in sight, you start paying attention to different mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.  When you learn about behaviour, you see how all of these aspects of nature interact with one another. It’s really cool!

Luis:  Seeing new birds and nature sites, and all the exercise I get from it too.

Anyone who knows or has birded with the Gomezes can tell, for sure, that their love for nature and conservation is sincere.  For the trio, one of the most rewarding birding moments they’ve had was their encounter with the Philippine Eagle in the wild.  Together, they braved a “2-hour long hike along a muddy, slippery trail full of leeches and mosquitoes.”  Though they’ve been blessed with the chance to see the sought after Philippine Eagle, their ultimate goal is the family’s prime focus.

G: What is your greatest family birdwatching goal/target?

The Gomezes:  Convincing our ornithophobic mom/wife to become a birder too!

Despite her ornithophobia, Mrs. Gomez is still definitely able to experience adventures with her family in their travels together.

G:  What is the best thing about travelling together as a family?

 The Gomezes:  Bonding and seeing the most beautiful places the world has to offer, both in the Philippines and abroad!

Nurture for nature

Isn’t it just heartwarming to witness a family bonded by a shared passion?  Things are a lot of fun when doing them with the people you love and the Gomez family couldn’t agree more!

G: How do you think families can benefit from activities like birdwatching together?

The Gomezes:  It’s fun to have a shared interest with the people you are closest to!  It’s a fun meal time topic and a way for your family to get closer while having fun.

Of course the interest has to start from somewhere.  For those wanting to build their children’s interest and appreciation for nature, here’s what they have to say:

The Gomezes:  Just give them the opportunity to be in nature or learn more about it as exposure will build appreciation. You can start with your child’s favorite animal, bug, or plant—they’ll definitely have one!  Watching channels like Animal Planet or National Geographic or reading books together will help cultivate their interest too.

G: What is your Christmas birding wish?

Bom:  To continue birding and see more lifers.  I also wish that our forests and wildlife recover.

Gabby:  That we’ll one day have better conservation programs and facilities for everyone who appreciates nature.  It makes me so sad so many of our prettiest birds are endangered!

Luis:  Conservation of animals, more birding trips with my family, and maybe my dad finally getting his Swarovski telescope.

G:  As the year comes to a close, what is something you’re all thankful for?

The Gomezes:  Becoming members of WBCP and making new friends/travel buddies who were actively helpful and supportive in our journey of becoming birders.

G:  What do you look forward to in the coming year?

The Gomezes:  More trips, more lifers, and more friends!

Since they’ve joined the club in December 2021, they’ve been able to reach more than 300 lifers. Incredible!

This season is the perfect time for us to spend time with those close to us and reconnect with each other.  Perhaps like the Gomez family, we too can find a shared interest or advocacy we’re passionate about.

Thank you Bom, Gabby, and Luis!  We wish you a hundred or more lifers and look forward to birding with you all in the coming year.

To the eBon readers, may your holidays be bright and your birding fruitful!

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