The official website of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
The official website of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

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Despite travel ban, Hong Kong birdwatchers attend bird fair

September 27, 2010
By Anna Valmero,

WBCP VP Anna Gonzales with HK delegates
Samson So, John Allcock and Bong Shum

DAVAO CITY, DAVAO DEL SUR – Not even a travel ban to the Philippines can prevent bird watchers to show enthusiasm in promoting ecotourism and wildlife conservation.

Despite the travel ban due to last month’s hostage-taking incident, bird watchers from the Hong Kong Birdwatching Society (HKBS) attended the recent Asian Bird Fair in Davao.

Samson So says he and other members of the HKBS attended the fair to show support for bird watching and sustainable ecotourism in the region.

“Our attendance to the event should not be affected because of one person’s fault,” So says.

“We hope that by attending the event, other Hong Kong nationals will know that travel in the country (Philippines) is not what they think. We also want to show support to the Filipino organizers and birder friends.”

Because of the travel ban, So says he and his colleagues were not issued travel insurance by their respective travel agencies so they opted to apply for a bank insurance to cover their trip to the Philippines.

“My travel agency failed to issue a travel insurance so I got one from a bank. Many of my friends are concerned if it is safe for me to go and I explained to them not to put too much pressure on the Philippines because of the travel ban,” says So.

“Accidents happen all the time and thanks to increasing awareness about the Philippines being a good spot for eco-adventures such as birding, mountain climbing and the like, this country has good potential to reclaim its tourism status,” he adds.

A birdwatcher and nature photographer, So says he has been promoting birdwatching in the Philippines to his friends in Hong Kong.

The Philippines is home to more than 600 bird species, more than 180 of these are endemic including the Philippine eagle. So says this will entice “many people, especially nature-lovers, to go visit the country.”

Mike Lu, co-founder and president of Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP), expressed gratitude to the Hong Kong nationals’ support not only for bird watching but tourism in the Philippines.

“This bodes well for the country. They went here despite the lack of a travel insurance given the travel ban and that means a lot because foreigners are wary of going outside their country without this insurance,” he says.

Delegates at the Opening Ceremonies
of the 1st Asian Bird Fair

Around 35 birders from international groups attended the event, including those from the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, Malaysian Nature Society, Nature Society of Singapore, Wild Bird Society of Taipei (Taiwan), Shanghai Wild Bird Society (China), Wild Bird Society of Tainan (Taiwan), Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network, Borneo Bird Club, Hornbill Research Foundation (Thailand), the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (Myanmar), the Wetland Trust (Thailand), Bird Conservation Nepal and the Oriental Bird Club (United Kingdom).

“Birders, especially the serious ones, have a ‘lifer’ list of the birds they want to see and if they don’t go here in the Philippines, they will not be able to tick off our endemic birds from their list,” adds Lu.

(Photos by Anna Valmero,