To the person who’s right for me: “Please, not now.”

To my future partner/soulmate/Mr. Right/Other Half,

While other girls of my age are dreaming of finding the boyfriends or husbands of their dreams, meeting you at this point of my life terrifies the heck out of me.

It’s not because I’m afraid of falling in love, or being hurt because of love. It’s not because I’m too scared or too naive; I’m 22 years old and I know finding your true love at this age is one of the most wonderful things in the world.

It’s because I’m an immature, spontaneous, vulnerable and laidback 22-year-old girl. I still have so much to learn about life, though meeting you can probably teach me a thing or two, but right now I feel I need to get through this alone.

I want to travel. I want to study and earn my masteral/law degree. I want to learn two foreign languages. I want to go solo backpacking. I want to write a book or a screenplay. I want to have my own car. I want to treat my mom in an overseas trip to Rome and France. I want to be that girl who accomplished half of what she wants to do in her life before meeting you.

I know we’re going to have wonderful adventures together and we’re going to create cool memories. Just that before we meet, I want to feel already complete.

I know you’re supposed to complete me, that we’re supposed to complement each other. I believe in that. It’s just that for me, you are supposed to fill the holes I don’t know that existed in the first place, the hidden gaps and lapses in my life that only being with you can fulfill. You’re supposed to give me that special kind of happiness I never knew existed.

But right now, I am more focused on things that I KNEW would make me happy. I want to feel complete, not depending on how others make me feel, but what I feel about myself.

I have my own goals and dreams. I know half of them will probably be nothing but dreams. I know I’ll have plenty of failures and rejections in store for me. I know I’m going to get hurt and probably along the way, I’ll be wishing that you’re right here with me.

But I want to come through all of this alone. I’m vulnerable and emotional. I tend to latch unto things that make me happy and comfortable. If I meet you right now, I don’t want to be that kind of girl who will wrap herself around you and consider you an emotional blanket.

I don’t want to be that girl whose emotional weaknesses may possibly hinder your own enjoyment of your life, your personal dreams and goals.

I don’t want to be that girl who thinks that love always completes. I have the love of my Creator for that.

I want to be that girl who will be your partner – your co-equal. I want us to look out for each other; seek strength from each other; learn from each others’ experience and life lessons. I want us to have this special kind of love we were unable to find from other people, or from the things we enjoy doing.

I’m excited to meet you, whoever you are, and God knows how I would love to be there if you’re hurting right now. Just now, you have to go through this alone…and I have my own personal battles to deal with.

I hope by the time we meet, our creases and dents, our imperfect shapes and curves, would fit us together perfectly.

Until then!

Love,
Immature, spontaneous, Unable-to-love-you-yet Me

What to expect on your first climb?

I was never athletic. Never has and never will be. I like the great outdoors and I enjoy nature more than I enjoy most people. Sometimes though, I do wish that my body would keep up with my soul’s wanton desire to be one with nature.

And what amazing work of nature to get lost in than a mountain? I hold an almost reverent, romantic view for these hulking mass of the earth. I am simply enthralled with their hugeness, their constrained power, the mystery they hide beneath the carpet of green. Ever since I graduated from school, one of the things I must do in my list is to climb a mountain. But for reasons of the other, I wasn’t able to.

So when my bestfriend casually invited me for a dayhike at a nearby mountain in Bulacan, who was I to pass up the chance? It’s time to get up close and personal.

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Mt. Balagbag in Bulacan is a minor climb, just right enough for a climber newbie like me. Eme told me that in a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest, it scored a 2. But believe me if I tell you that when you’re done with this mountain, you would think that someone has done this mountain a great injustice by giving it a measly 2.

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The difficulty 2 mountain will never give you the luxury of a flat, even ground. Mt. Balagbag has a steep terrain, riddled with sharp, huge rocks. It will provoke you with 45° steepness which often bends in a narrow curve. The climbers we are with, who are far more experienced than us, has to stop in every big lonesome tree they come across with just to breathe normally again.

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Another thing you should remember in facing Balagbag is the lack of protection from the sun. The climb would have been a hundred times easier if we hike at night or at dawn. I swear it seems like the mountain is frying you like a good sunny-side egg before it can eat you alive. Good thing the wind picks up every once in a while and it’s more than enough to keep us going.

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Reaching the top is a bit anticlimactic but still memorable. One of my friends, Crisel, kept on saying: “Shit, I can’t believe I made it!” and it’s wonderful how our “I’m dying. Just leave me be..” exhaustion minutes earlier is suddenly wiped out by “Yeah, we can take on everything!” elation.

From the experience as someone who is “devirginized” by a mountain, here are some of the musings I can share on what to expect on your first climb:

* Before anything else, condition your body. Before Balagbag, I jog about two times a week to pump up my cardio. I’m still a little sore two days after the climb but I hate to think what it would be like if I sit on my ass all week, thinking it will be a piece of cake.

* Choose comfortable clothes. If you’re in a dayhike climb, wear shorts with leggings underneath. Stretchable armbands are your bestfriend because you can take them off after the climb. Don’t dress to impress. No matter how good you look, the climb will change your appearance so much, you wouldn’t recognize yourself anymore. Do not wear extra clothings as possible, unless you’re about to climb the likes of Mt. Pulag.

* Rubber shoes may be too hot to wear but you will be thankful with them when the trail before you is a steep slide with sharp rocks at the bottom.

* Bring at least two 500ml of water and/or electrolytes. 80% of your bag is for water bottles.

* In a dayhike, travel light. Your backpack should be smaller than usual. In a major climb, make sure to choose a bag with comfortable shoulder straps.

* Bring caps, sun shades, visor or anything thag will protect your head and eyes from the sun.

* Hike in your own pace, especially if it’s your first time. So what if your hike buddies are far ahead of you? Give your poor body a chance to get in grips with that awful decision you made in climbing a damn mountain in the first place! (You’re not the first person who asked yourself: “What did I get myself into?”)

* If you feel like resting, do so. If you’re breathing hard and your heart feels like it’s about to burst on your chest, DO NOT sit down right away. Lean unto something or continue to stand until it finally subsided to a normal pace.

* On the middle of a steep climb, don’t spend most of your time looking far ahead. It will make you think of how high it is or how difficult it will be to make the turn or reach a point. It will make you tired more than you already are. Focus on your pace and at your progress. Before you know it, you’ve reached the top.

* Going down is just as hard as climbing up. But arguably, more fun!

* The view at the top is always worth the sweat.

* No matter how tired you get, or the regrets you thought while climbing, trust me if I say you will be addicted. The fever you will catch in climbing is no ordinary bug. You’ll experience some feverish desire to climb a mountain if you saw one.

Some geological trivia: Dead/dormant volcanoes are mountains without any neighbors. Usually, ordinary mountains are part of a mountain range or a cluster.

Now excuse me while I plan my next climb for the month of April. Pico de Loro, here I come!

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Why I’ve stopped asking God ‘Why’

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I’m a ‘why’ person. As a reporter, my favorite type of questions are the ‘Why’ ones. I would often reserve them to the last, after we’ve gone through the boring facts and figures, details and data, like a dessert after the appetizer and main course. My mentors would often lightly reprimand me that the lead of my news articles are usually long and feature-like; it’s because the ‘Why’ answers are always emphasized in the lead than the popular ‘What’, ‘Who’, ‘When’,and ‘Where’

My other favorite question is ‘How’ if I’m really interested with the subject but let’s talk about that some other time.

Why did you launch this project?
Why did you choose this age group as your target audience?
Why did you say that the youth today is the hope of the future?
Why are you so concerned with this cause?

I like to call ‘why’ questions as questions that allow the readers to focus more on the person than the subject, the ‘who’ than the ‘what’. ‘Why’s’ are personal; they allow you to solve one person’s motives, dreams, fears, history and other interesting tidbits (if you’re a gossip like me, kidding!).

It doesn’t work on God, however.

When I became a Christian, I’ve developed more questions than answers. Like with most people I know, they would usually ask ‘Lord, what is your plan in my life?’ or things like ‘Lord, where will you lead me?’ No I’m not that. I like to get deep and personal. After all, my newfound relationship with Christ granted me the Grace of that freedom. No sir, I wouldn’t settle for just answers in front of me. I’ll be demanding explanations.

My impatience and inherent independence usually bring me in conflict with God’s plan and mine. When things simply aren’t going my way, when I’m sick and frustrated over my own failures and stubbornness to listen to Him, I would demand the ‘Why’ right away. Why me? Why are you making me suffer? Why are you silent?

Why would you let this happen to me?

Why are you letting the innocent suffer?

Why must this person die?

Why are you letting bad things happen to your people?

And as you may have guessed, I received no reply. I thought, ‘I might as well be talking to a wall’

Asking ‘Why’ to God is a habit I have to give up, and mind you, it’s one of those hardest things I have to give up during my early days as a Christian. Still, I overcome it. It’s not because I got tired of asking Him questions. Usually, He would give the answers in the right time. It’s also not because I’ve stopped asking the ‘Why’ questions.

It’s because I’ve been asking them the wrong way all this time. I’ve forgotten the basic rule of journalism that the key for your answers lies on even the slightest revisions of your questions.

Instead of ‘Why are You like this to me?’, I began asking questions like:

‘Why am I like this?’

‘Why am I doubting Him?’

‘Why am I so afraid?’

‘Why am I losing faith now?’

And there, just like that, God would me give the answers. Yeah, I know. It took me ages to realize that.

This is WHY I’ve stopped asking Him why. Because in His grand scheme of things, let’s just face it, the answers to our Why questions are pointless. Instead, giving up our human nature to know ‘Why’ is the ultimate act of submission because you have no say in the matter anymore. It is your own leap of faith. It is defying logic and our own nature to fear the unknown. I’ve learned that the best testimonies of faith come from people who stopped asking ‘Why’.

When I was little and my parents used to bring me and my brothers to those pool trips, my dad would often ask me to ride the water slide. I have no idea where the slide would lead to but still, I didn’t hesitate to jump and slide all the way down, trusting with all my heart that my dad would be waiting at the bottom,with his arms outstretched to catch me so I wouldn’t drown. No questions asked. I knew that my father would be there waiting for me.

And this made me realize that asking too much questions can delay the fun or the wonderful promises He has planned for you. Being a ‘Why’ person has its perks, but when it comes to asking God, those ‘Why’s’ have to go.

To Our Fallen 44

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To our dear policemen who died for their service for the country and the people

Who died to subdue a dangerous man whose explosives may have, one day, burn villages and kill hundreds

Who died fighting an enemy that shouldn’t be.

You have come from different parts of the country, from North to the South

You may have spoken different native languages, raised from different families

You are sons, brothers, fiances, husbands and fathers to those you left behind

But you have fought as one, as valiant sons for our the motherland

You are heroes, in the truest sense of the word

You may never see our tears, our grief, our outrage and demands for justice

We may never know what you lived for

But we will never forget what you died for.

To our fallen 44,

Who lay dying in the fields under the dawning sky

We, the nation promises,

that your brutal, unnecessary sacrifice will be honored,

remembered,

immortalized

and justified.

Rest in peace, our brothers.

For after your battle has ended,

ours will continue.

And we will never stop

We will never rest in peace

Until we bring justice

On your grave

On 25 January 2015, three platoons of the elite SAF police squad ventured into the guerrilla enclave of Tukanalipao,Mindanao, Philippines, with the goal of detaining high-ranking, Jemaah Islamiyah-affiliated, improvised-explosive-device experts Zulkifli Abdhir and Basit Usman. The SAF troops were then ambushed by a group of the Moro Islamic liberation Front militants, suffering heavy casualties. Running out of ammunition, a dozen of surviving policemen attempted to withdraw. At the same time, rebels belonging to BIFF gathered from nearby villages, immediately engaging the retreating law enforcement agents. The militants overpowered the remaining policemen, later killing the wounded and firing multiple bullets into the corpses of the slain. A total of 44 SAF officers were killed, while rebel casualties amounted to at least 5 killed and 10 wounded. According to a government source, one of the bomb makers was already arrested when the ambush took place; his whereabouts is currently unknown. A MILF spokesman accused the SAF squads of initiating the firefight, claiming that the rebels acted in self-defense, and proposed the continuation of the peace process. The Philippine government and MILF are currently under a peace agreement for the upcoming creation of Bangsamoro or an Islamic State in Mindanao. After the incident, many of the citizens are having second thoughts if the Bangsamoro state should come into fruition in the hands of these militants.  Related links: http://www.interaksyon.com/article/103776/govt-deeply-saddened-by-pnp-saf-milf-clash-in-maguindanao http://www.rappler.com/nation/81883-pnp-saf-maguindanao-terrorists

Debunking the ‘Love Just Happens’ Mystery

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I am a person raised by books. To say it inflicted tremendous positive effects in my overall growth as an individual is an understatement. Reading opens your mind and broadens your understanding of the world and people in general. However, you cannot base your whole worldview on books alone. We have something we call life to learn lots from.

One of those misconceptions of human emotions I got from books and films is that ‘Love just happens naturally’. That love is a mysterious force that drives two people together. That some sort of inevitable ‘hand of fate’ is at play. That resisting love is futile and hopeless. That you are destined to fall in love with someone and there’s nothing you can do about it.

From the beginning, even before I experienced falling in love, love presents an interesting concept for me. What drives us to love someone? Is love just a concoction of pheromones and brain chemicals and we are completely under control of its effect in our body? More importantly, can we control who we are going to fall in love with?

An article from the New York Times piqued my interest one boring afternoon. It is: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/modern-love-to-fall-in-love-with-anyone-do-this.html?_r=0. It is a clinical approach of falling in love with someone and teaching your body, brain chemicals, etc. to feel something for a person. It then concludes that: Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.

The article may be a subject for more open-ended arguments, case-to-case situations of people falling in love without the brain knowing about it, or reminding that this doesn’t speak out for everyone. Well, it did to me. I’ve been haggling myself why I can’t establish a romantic relationship with anyone, and why the mysterious force hasn’t been at work in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen in love quite a few times in my life. Some are unrequited, some are promising but have to be cut off for plenty of myriad reasons, some have no chance of working out at all. And all those experiences, I thought I’ve never been truly in love. Because in books, it’s either the hero or the heroine loses his/her mind over a love interest and that, it doesn’t make sense. I’ve never lost my mind over someone. In fact, I knew exactly why I like him. I made the choice and decision to be more than just friends, not because I couldn’t help it.

To look at love in a clinical point of view can be boring. I mean, where’s that mysterious force that binds us together for all eternity? Well, it set the record straight. We can be in control of our emotions. There is a big chance we can fall in love with someone if we willed it. If we get our hearts broken, we all have the guts to move on and look for someone more worthy of our affections. I guess what they say is true. The more you mature in love, the less exciting it gets. But hey, it all depends on perspective. It’s your choice what to believe and what to live. ‘Love happens’ or ‘you let love happen’, it’s a matter of enjoying love as it is.

It raises one point though. If we fall in love by choice, we also fall out of love by choice. It eventually completes a perfect circle.

ByaHestory: The Bataan Excursion

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A hotel promo and a sudden whim to go out of the Metro for the weekend brought us to the province up the north – a historic little province called Bataan. My bestfriend seemed to understand my fetish for old houses and structures, historic churches and historical markers so one day, she surprised me that she already booked a hotel room for the two of us in a price we can both afford at a hotel in Balanga.We got more than we bargained for, because the hotel sits literally at the center of the Plaza Mayor, sandwiched between the grand City Hall and an even grander-looking Robinson Mall at one side.

The Balanga Cathedral

The Balanga Cathedral

It's a good thing the Robinson's Mall management agreed to design the mall this way just to blend with the other buildings.

It’s a good thing the Robinson’s Mall management agreed to design the mall this way just to blend with the other buildings.

I’ve known Bataan from history books as a site of the infamous Death March during the World War II, when the Imperial Japanese forces overwhelmed the last stand at Corregidor and made the prisoners of war march to their death from Bataan to prison camps spread across Luzon. Thousands of Americans and Filipino soldiers either died out of exhaustion, dehydration, torture or the desire to escape (they were shot on the spot). Even today, markers are spread on the street and main highways, commemorating the ordeal that marked the dark age of Japanese rule over the archipelago.

Our first destination after we reached the hotel is the St. Joseph Cathedral or the Balanga Cathedral. Just a few seconds walk from our hotel, we already reached the doors of the church. Since it’s Sunday, we are lucky that there aren’t any holy masses and we are free to roam around and inside the church. I quickly took notice of the historical marker placed on the side of the wall, meaning the Balanga Cathedral is one of the country’s national cultural treasures. I’ve been around churches for so long now, not entirely out of religious reasons (I consider myself a Protestant ), but because of my love for history and anything old. Catholic churches are the town’s cultural crown jewel – you can trace a place’s history through the consecration of the churches. As I keep saying, if you want a glimpse of a town’s history, visit their churches.

Inside the Balanga Cathedral

Inside the Balanga Cathedral

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Next stop, we went to the Dambana ng Kagitingan at Mt. Samat. It is a giant memorial cross placed on top of the mountain which commemorates the heroism and courage of joint Filipino-American soldiers as they stood their ground to the waves of Japanese attack during World War II.

Us on the way to Mt. Samat

Us on the way to Mt. Samat

The long, winding road to the Top

The long, winding road to the Top

The viewing room at the top

The viewing room at the top

You can either walk on foot or take a tricycle going to the top. A tricycle ride is strongly advisable for city bums like me (travelling on foot would take you an hour and a half). On the other hand, a tricycle ride would cost you Php100.00 per head, one-way only, and you’d get to the shrine after 30 minutes.

Tourists can go up as high as to the left and right side of the cross through an elevator which costs around PHP10.00 per head. At the top awaits a magnificent view of the whole Bataan peninsula and the rugged mountain range of neighboring provinces. You can also catch a glimpse of the top of Mt. Mariveles, a dormant volcano beside Mt. Samat that nearly covers all Bataan.

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Vertigo

Vertigo

It is an amazing feeling to behold the 90-ft cross standing proud and mighty against the elements. Yet its sheer size and grandiose is nothing but a humble, simple gift for our heroes who fought for our motherland even when the odds are against them. Visiting here made me realize how important it is to be reminded by their sacrifices to protect the liberty they valiantly fought for. Times may have changed now and our former enemies are now our strongest allies, but forgiveness doesn’t have to equate to forgetting. It’s no different than spitting on the graves of our heroes.

The 90-ft cross

The 90-ft cross

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For dinner, we ventured to the Balanga Night Market where we got to taste one of the tastiest, juiciest sisig and grilled squid ever. For just Php135.00, we are served with two meals plus two rice. I’m not sure if the Night Market is for Christmas time only, but if you’re looking for an affordable meal, it doesn’t hurt to inquire about it to the locals.

The wall recounting the last stand of Bataan

The wall recounting the last stand of Bataan

The locals in Bataan are also the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve encountered. They are always quick to help you out and offer you points of interest. Some of the people we met didn’t take advantage of our apparent clueless-ness of the place and offered the best price for the services, like the  tricycle driver in Mt. Samat.

The next day, we traveled to the West Nuk Beach at Morong, Rizal, at the farthest point of Bataan, to check out the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. I’ve always wanted to have a tour inside the first and only nuclear plant of the country. It is now called the White Elephant of the Philippines, as useless as any non-functional power plants can go, and the government is spending millions of pesos just to maintain the facilities. Now, it is a tourist sight and people can walk inside the power plant with a tour guide.

West Nuk Beach Resort at Morong, Bataan

West Nuk Beach Resort at Morong, Bataan

Just chillin' out

Just chillin’ out

The mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

The mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

Unfortunately, the staff is having their Christmas Party when we arrived. That means no tours for us :( The only silver lining we got after taking the grueling trip from Balanga to Morong (Php55.00 each for the hour and a half ride) is that we got to frolic on the calm waves of West Nuk Beach. We didn’t stay long though because we have to catch the check-out time of our hotel.

We bought some Araro Cookies with cashew nuts for pasalubong at the Robinson’s Mall in a rush. Tinapa is Bataan’s own specialty too. The Gabi Ice Cream is also a well-loved specialty and you can try it at Orani, a town before Balanga.

All in all, I think I only spent Php1,000.00 for the activities and the fares for our 2-day stay. Excluding the hotel stay, of course. I would highly recommend staying in a less luxurious place, or in a house of a friend or a relative. Of course, you have to take note that the tour fare in Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is not counted in my breakdown of expenses, though it is recommended to have the tour with a group so you can share the package fee.

* Bus Fare (Cubao-Balanga) P200.00 

* Jeep (Balanga-Diwa) – P17.00

* Tricycle (Diwa -Mt. Samat) – P100.00

* Entrance Fee – P20.00

* Elevator Fee – P10.00

* Tricycle (Mt. Samat-Diwa) – P100.00

* Jeep (Diwa-Balanga) – P17.00

TOTAL: Php464.00

Second DAY

* Mini-bus (Balanga-Bataan Nuclear Power Plant) – P65.00 

* Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Entrance Fee – P20.00

* Entrance at West Nuk – P120.00

* Picnic Table – P60.00 (P30.00 each)

* Mini-bus (BNPP-Balanga) – 65.00

* Bus (Balanga-Manila) – P200.00

TOTAL: 500.00

So all in all, Bataan is one of the most affordable out-of-town trips I’ve had. If you’re a fan of history or you just wanted to venture out of the Metro and visit a nearby province to relax, Bataan should be on top of your weekend getaways.

Last 2012, I was part of the media entourage who went to Las Casas Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. It is a man-made park filled with heritage houses uprooted from different parts of the country; houses that are decaying in their original location. They are henceforth transferred in Bagac for recreational viewing and preservation. You can check out my article here

An audience with The King of Philippine Skies

When I first came to Davao, I had a limited time to explore the city on my own and visit the places I’ve always wanted to check out. One of them is the Philippine Eagle Center, the home for the country’s national and majestic bird, the Philippine Eagle. It is one of the largest eagles in the world, endemic to the Philippines. But due to deforestation and human activities, their numbers dwindled out, making them one of the most critically endangered creatures in the world.

The Philippine Eagle Center

The Philippine Eagle Center

I had a strange fascination with the Philippine Eagle for some time. Its appearance, to say the humblest, exudes pride and nobility in every way. It can grow to 3.35 ft (1 meter) and  has a wingspan of 6-7 ft. Its talons are large and menacing enough to claw through the meat of a full-grown monkey (it is also called the Monkey-eating Eagle). When it is angered or it wants to emphasize its territory, its shaggy mane draws up like those in a lion’s. Its brown feathers camouflaged the color of the people, and the fact that it’s only found  nowhere else in the world except here further qualifies it a national symbol.

A grown eagle can stand up to 3 ft

A grown eagle can stand up to 3 ft

So that’s why when I returned to Davao, I promised to myself that I have to go here, even if it means having to go by myself if I have to.  I’m staying in a missionary’s house in Toril, near the SM City Davao, and I only have to take one ride going to Calinan. Davao transportation is slowly transforming like that in Manila; shuttle and van services are beginning to dominate the road going to far-away areas. In my case, I took a van which costs around Php 40.00. I asked the driver to drop me to the “Philippine Eagle” since I’m new in the city and he actually did! Now, I don’t know if drivers in Manila are just being trolls or quite forgetful; either reason you can’t rely on their promise that they will drop you off in your destination.

After dropping off to Calinan, a busy town center, motorcycles and pedicabs are already waiting there for visitors to go to the Eagle Center. I agreed to settle the fare to Php 20.00. Anyway, it is a 5-kilometer ride away from the marketplace, and we have to pass difficult, dusty road to get to the Center.

Entrance fee to the park

Entrance fee to the park

The Eagle Center has a small crowd of visitors during that overcast, slightly drizzly afternoon. Before entering PEC, a guard will charge you a Php10.00 entrance for adults (Php5.00 for kids) in the entrance. The fee is just for the entrance to the Davao City Water District, a small park of sorts where you can have picnics and enjoy some of the park’s kiosks.

The entrance fee for kids and adults are different in PEC. Adults like me (18 years old and above sigh) has to pay Php100.00 for the tour of the whole area, while kids or youth (18 years below) can buy their entrance fee for Php50.00. Of course, proceeds will go to the conservation and breeding of the eagles of the Philippine Eagle Foundation. I think it’s just a small amount you can shed compared to the large difference the Foundation is trying to make.

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The International Union for the Conservation of Nature currently estimates the number of Philippine Eagle to be just around 180-500, making them one of the most critically endangered animals in the world. Killing or poaching an Eagle is a criminal offence in Philippine law but they are mostly captured for zoos. Deforestation, mining, exposure to pesticides that affect breeding, and human activities are the major contribution to its nearing extinction.

Some facts about the Philippine Eagle

So which is larger? The Philippine Eagle or the American Bald Eagle? Depends on who you are asking. I would say ours is larger!

The breeding practice of Philippine Eagle

Filipinos should learn a thing or two on Family Planning from the Philippine Eagle

I think one of those factors for its dwindling numbers is its complex reproduction. Philippine Eagles are inherently monogamous – they seek just one partner for life (see, even in the animal kingdom, the faithful ones are dwindling), and they only breed 1-2 eggs for every two years. They won’t breed again until their baby is old enough to take care of itself. It also takes years for an eagle to sexually mature, and sadly, only few survive to breed in the jungle.

An ideal lover

An ideal lover

The park is small and you can easily navigate around for just 2-3 hours. Aside from eagles, you can see rare species of birds that can be found not just in the Philippines but also in Southeast Asia and India. If you’re still not tired of seeing crocodiles being interviewed on news, you can check out the Estuarine Crocodile at one point in the park. There is also a wide variety of waling-waling (Queen of the Philippine Flower) in the area you take a picture of! The park mostly features endemic creatures in the Philippines, like the Silvery Kingfisher, Pinsker’s Hawk Eagle, Philippine Brown Deer, Giant Scorps Owl and the Philippine Warty Pig.

The Estuarine Crocodile

The Estuarine Crocodile

Meet Scout Binay, a Brahmine Kite

Meet Scout Binay, a Brahminy Kite

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The Philippine Brown Deer

The Philippine Brown Deer

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Long-Tailed Macaques playing in their tiny island

Long-Tailed Macaques playing in their tiny island

But one can’t deny the main attraction is this badass over here: Pag-Asa (Filipino word for Hope). He is the first eagle bred in captivity back in 1992 (we are practically the same age!) and now, he finally had his first chick hatched (Mabuhay) last year! Mabuhay is also bred in artificial insemination, a long, tedious process facilitated by the eagle keepers and biologists in the foundation. Still, I am hoping that the day will arrive that Eagles wouldn’t find it hard to breed in the wild, without human intervention whatsoever.

IMG_8588

IMG_8587

Upon leaving the park, I bought some souvenirs from the Foundation. There are stalls outside the park selling the same items but I wanted to show my support to the preservation through my own little way. The items are a bit more expensive, but like I said, it’s a small price to pay for the survival of these eagles.

The Eagle showing off its wings

The Eagle showing off its wings

Drawing up of his shaggy mane shows his agitation

Alert and listening

I want a future where my kids can see the Eagle in the flesh -- not just in textbooks or the internet

I want a future where my kids can see the Eagle in the flesh — not just in textbooks or the internet

The tiles of the trail enumerate the list of donors and sponsors who helped the Foundation in rescuing eagles

The tiles of the trail enumerate the list of donors and sponsors who helped the Foundation in rescuing eagles. Someday, my name will be there. 

The Philippine Eagle is more than just an attraction or a national symbol – it’s an advocacy. After the tour in the park, I made it a lifelong plan to dedicate myself in contributing for the preservation of these wonderful creatures. I can organizations like the Haribon Foundation or raise awareness about the importance of preserving their habitat. More importantly, I’ll make it a mission to advocate the Philippine Eagle as more than icon, but a testament of how everything about the Philippines isn’t hopeless at all. Our country may be facing quite a number of difficulties right now- from natural disasters to government incompetence, lack of education and poverty in rural areas- but just like the Philippine Eagle, we can have that chance to rise again. Everything may be quite helpless and bleak now, but always, let us remember there is Pag-asa.

Look guys, my spirit animal! (look how our hair match!)

Look guys, my spirit animal! (look how similar our hairstyles are!)

The Philippine Eagle Foundation is a private, non-stock, non-profit organization dedicated to saving the endangered Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) and its rainforest habitat.  Organized in 1987, it had before that time been operating as a project undertaking research, rehabilitation, and captive breeding.  Staffed by highly trained and dedicated personnel, it has today evolved into the country’s premiere organization for the conservation of raptors. For more information, visit this website: http://www.philippineeagle.org/foundation/

HELP SAVE THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE AND OTHER PHILIPPINE WILDLIFE! 

http://www.haribon.org.ph/index.php/get-involved

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