Sunday, August 3, 2014

Inside the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City



Haring Ibon, Agila, Monkey-eating eagle, Banog. These are some of the names we call our national bird, the great and mighty Philippine Eagle.

This critically endangered bird is endemic to Philippine forests, and can be found in several areas in Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.

With height averaging one meter (3 feet) and wingspan reaching up to two meters (the broadest in the world at 7 feet), the Philippine Eagle is among the rarest and most powerful birds in the world.

However, due to massive deforestation and hunting, estimates are that there are no more than 400 pairs left in the wild. Despite the laws protecting these birds, the Philippine eagles are still severely threatened.

I had the chance to visit the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) located in Davao City. It houses more than 30 Philippine Eagles, of which some are captive-bred. These eagles are also living with some mamals, reptiles and other species of birds. 

The center aims to educate people about the importance of wildlife conservation, especially the Philippine Eagles.

Unlike the zoos I've visited before, this center has a tropical rain forest environment which show the visitors a set up of the Philippine eco-system. Exploring  the facilities and exhibits was fun, easy and really enlightening. 

I consider seeing Pag-asa, the 22-year old captive-bred Philippine Eagle, the highlight of the trip. Although the sad fact remains that he should ideally be allowed to freely spread his wings into the vastness of the wilderness, his existence in that small cage, somehow, gives hope to the conservation efforts of his own breed. 

An interesting behavior I learned about the Philippine Eagles is their being monogamous, taking only one mate for life. These eagles lay only one egg every other year. So imagine the rarity in the reproduction of these eagles. Their existence is precious and should, therefore, be protected. 

Philippine Eagles are highly territorial occupying 7,000 to 13,000 hectares of forest per eagle pair. Although staying in a small facility is downright limiting for them, but on the other hand, letting them out in the wild also pose a more dangerous threat. This is a very sad reality for our national bird. 

**Education and reforestation are key in the conservation and protection -- No to buying, selling, and killing of Philippine Eagles. Let's help!**

If you have an upcoming trip to Davao, don't forget to include the PEC in your itinerary.

How to get there:


The Philippine Eagle Center is about an hour drive from the city and can be reached either by private or public transport. Buses going to Calinan depart every 15 minutes from the Annil Terminal located at corner Quirino and San Pedro Extension. Bus fare is at P30. From Calinan, take a pedicab going to the PEC. The ride is about 10 minutes and will cost you P6. Before entering the PEC premises, the Davao City Water District will collect an entrance fee of P5 for adults and P3 for kids.

Entrance Fees:

Adults - P50
Youth (18 years old and below) - P30

Schedule:

8am to 5pm daily, including holidays

Spending a morning in Tabuk City, Kalinga


The night before I visited the province of Kalinga, I was watching a documentary about the production of civet coffee in Indonesia.

Known as the most expensive coffee in the world, this exotic coffee, called locally in Indonesia as Kopi Luwa, is nothing like your ordinary brew. It is produced in the forests of Java where civet cats are fed with coffee berries. These coffee beans are not digested by the civet cats and are excreted. These civet "poops" are then processed to become one of the most aromatic and tasteful brews in the world.

There inside my small hotel room in Tugegarao, I fancied on having my own cup of civet coffee. I made a few research about the local production of civet coffee in the Philippines. I was elated to know that an hour away from where I was at, a civet coffee is being produced.

The following morning, I took the earliest van going to Tabuk City, the capital of Kalinga. As the van sped off the scenic and well-paved road connecting the province of Cagayan to the landlocked  province of Kalinga, I couldn't help but think of my morning coffee -- a civet coffee.

The road going to Tabuk offers a nice view of rolling mountains that resemble those I've seen in Batanes. Although the van was cramped with regular workers, leaving me to squeeze into a tiny space inside the van to survive the one-hour trip, I didn't mind because the view outside was such a welcoming sight.

Rolling and sloppy hills covered in grassland are a common sight going to Tabuk City. Photo courtesy of Noks Sosa of Tripapips.com

It was chilly when I arrived in Tabuk. Instead of heading straight for breakfast, I decided to first explore the city as it waked up to another new day.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My sister’s budget-friendly dream island wedding




KISS- keep it super simple. I know that we, Filipinos, have the propensity to make important events in our lives grand and festive, and a wedding is definitely not an exception to that.  Pulling off a standard wedding ceremony usually takes months or even years of taxing preparation. Very often, a couple allots a big chunk of their savings for the wedding, but sometimes, long after the visitors left and the ceremonies ended, the newly-wed find themselves in dire financial needs.

While weddings are important as it marks the start a couple’s lifetime of togetherness, in my honest opinion, the preparedness for what comes after it should be a top priority.

But tell you what, being short on budget should not hinder you from pulling off a wonderful wedding ceremony. The key is to keep things low key and practical. Just like how my sister, Cielo, did.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Think Green: Puralytics SolarBag for backpackers



I support green innovations and it's cool to know that nowadays, more and more companies are turning  into eco-friendly products and services. As a travel enthusiast, I'm excited to see this trend penetrating the world of backpackers, hikers, and beach bummers.

In my travels around the Philippines, especially in remote areas, one of the challenges I experienced was the access to clean and potable water. Sometimes, I find myself in places where the only available water source are tap water and natural streams or rivers. Other than these, I rely heavily on bottled water which, sadly, eventually goes into the waste basket.





I got to try a product called Puralytics SolarBag in my recent trip to Batangas. It is a sunlight activated water purifier that uses a nanotechnology coated mesh to remove contaminants and microorganisms. I like the idea that it harnesses the power of the sun and does not use electricity or any chemicals to treat water.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Coming Home Now: A Story of Passion for Surfing and Love for Catanduanes



The news spread like wildfire over the internet last night. I was in total disbelief. Probably like many people, I couldn't grasp the idea that a man who seemed to be in a perfect physical form and someone living a life most of us could only dream of, could be gone too soon.

But your online profile confirmed the unthinkable. The ocean is now forever yours, Ezra.

One of Ezra's last posts (Photo Credit: Ezra Efondo)
I remember one of our conversations during the BookSail event in Palumbanes Island, you shared how you left the corporate world and chose to go back to our home province. I remember how your eyes lit while you talked about Jack Johnson, sunsets, and surfing in Puraran.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

10 favorite memories in Masbate




A college friend introduced me to the sweet carmelado from Masbate, a local version of pastillas de leche which is made from carabao milk and sugar. This delicacy, wrapped in a thin white paper, got me at first bite, and I promised myself to horde as much carmelados I could afford if given the chance to visit Masbate someday.

Fast forward to a few years after, I visited Masbate’s capital, Masbate City, as I was completing my 80 before 30 challenge. Of course, carmelado was included in the order of business.

Masbate is a first-class province located in Bicol Region. It is composed of three major islands– Masbate, Ticao, Burias—and the capital is the City of Masbate. As an island province, it’s endowed with rich marine life in which many people in the coastal areas engage in fishing as their main source of income. Agriculture, such as livestock, raising cattle, and farming also contribute to the local coffer.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

GMA 7 Summer Break: Travel to Cagayan Province


Two years ago, I challenged myself to do my first solo trip to two provinces I haven't been to -- Cagayan and Kalinga. What I thought was just a short simple trip turned out to be one for the books.Recounting the exciting road trips, beautiful sunrises, and meeting kind people in these provinces left a mark that I will recall for a long time.

But in every trip, there's at least one episode that stands out among the smorgasbord of experiences. For my adventure in Cagayan...it is Palaui Island in the town of Sta. Ana. 



Whenever I'm asked about my favorite destinations around the country, Palaui Island always makes it on the list. So when I got an email asking if I could share my Palaui Island experiences for GMA's Summer Break series, I didn't hesitate and jumped in immediately. 

The remote island of Palaui is definitely worth sharing. But somehow there's a part of me guilty of the possibility that if I keep promoting unspoiled beaches and islands like Palaui, what are the chances that these may also fall into the ugly trap of commercial tourism? I could only hope that stories like mine will create awareness and promote a sustainable eco-tourism that will benefit the local community without damaging the environment.

Here's the video courtesy of GMA 7. 




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