Baras Bird Sanctuary Revisited (Barangay Baras, Tacurong City, Mindanao)

Baras Bird Sanctuary Revisited

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The last time I visited the Baras Bird Sanctuary was during the successful celebration of the Bird Festival 2017 last May. Lately, I visited it again but it was some kind of a reunion with college buddies, Rey Malana, the owner of the avian reservation park and Charles del Campo who was with his second wife, Neneng. When we arrived, the park wardens were busy with the laying down of new tiles for the pathway that wound around the bamboo and “kakawate” grove. Mr. Malana, himself, showed as around while pointing to interesting birds, some of which belong to very rare species. While going around, we had to cover our head with salakot to protect us from bird droppings.

 

Overhead, branches of trees and leaning bamboos lush with foliage and twigs were dotted with nests. Birds of various species were oblivious of our presence. Egrets were either on the ground while the rest were minding their nest. Fallen bamboos were left to rot to maintain an ambience akin to a forest. Meanwhile, a few feet away from the pathway, the brownish Upper Katungal or Kapingkong River continued rushing toward the Ala River.

 

After our tour, Rey treated us to a film showing that featured a documentary about the sanctuary. I was personally amazed at how the city and Baras with its Bird sanctuary were beautifully presented, especially, from the bird’s eye view.

 

Rey confided that he has been a nature lover ever since he observed the regular homing of egrets to the bamboo grove of their farm. To keep the avian park well-maintained, the city government has granted it a subsidy. Working in tandem with Rey in keeping the birding hobby and nature awareness in Tacurong alive is Ms. Emelie P. Jamorabon of the city tourism office. She surprised me with her thorough knowledge of the birds that have found home in the swamps around the city, as well as, the Bird Sanctuary itself. When I paid her a visit, she excitedly opened a site in the internet about the birds of Tacurong posted by avid birdwatchers who regularly visit the city.

 

Both Mr. Malana and Ms. Jamorabon are hoping that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) could further help the city government in preserving the identified homing areas of endemic and migratory birds, especially, the almost three hectares Baras Bird Sanctuary. Another identified area is a swamp within a private land in Carmen, which according to Ms. Jamorabon will be developed into a subdivision.

 

Those who are interested to visit Tacurong, the gateways are Davao, General Santos and Cotabato cities. The staff of the City Tourism Office on the second floor of the City Hall, and the receptionists, as well as, the park wardens of the Baras Bird Sanctuary are more than willing to assist for quick tours.

Ang Tubig at Hangin

Ang Tubig at Hangin

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ang tubig at hangin –

Bahagi ng buhay kung sila ay ituring.

 

Sa tubig ng sinapupunan nakalutang

Ang binhi ng buhay na sumisibol pa lamang

Na sa mundong lalabasa’y walang kamuwang-muwang.

 

Gaya ng tubig, ang hangi’y buhay din,

Nagpapatibok sa puso, nagpapapintig;

Ang sibol, nakapikit man, ito ay nakakarinig

Na animo  ay naghahanda na, paglabas niya sa daigdig.

 

Hangin ang unang malalanghap niya

Sa takdang panahong siya’y isinilang na,

At, sa kaguluhan ng mundo

Imumulat ang mga mata –

Kasabay ng malakas niyang pag-uha.

 

Sa tigang na lupa, ang tubig ay buhay

Ito’y ulang bumabagsak mula sa kalawakan

Subali’t kapag lumabis na’t hindi mapigilan

Nagiging baha, pumipinsala sa sangkatauhan

Ganoon din ang hangin na dulot ay ginhawa

Basta ang ihip, huwag lang magbago ng timpla.

 

Baha at bagyo

Dulot ng tubig at hangin sa mundo

Hindi masawata

Kaya dulot ay matinding pinsala

Subali’t sana, kahit papaano’y maiibsan

Kung napangalagaan natin ang kalikasan –

Na ating inalipusta nang walang pakundangan!

 

 

Note:

Sibol – fertilized egg of the woman

Sinapupunan – womb

Kamuwang-muwang (kamuwangan) – knowledge

Pintig – pulse

Tigang – dry

Inalipusta – abused

 

Ode to Mother Earth

Ode to Mother Earth

by Apolinario Villalobos

 

Looking back when time began

God said the words

Giving life to all

That He desired,

The endless expanse of the void

Was filled with motley specks

That moved with harmony –

A prodigious task

Of the Almighty.

 

A tiny dot in the universe

Mother Earth throbbed with life

As God made her a living sphere

Covered with green and blue

All part of God’s grandiose plan

Done in a few days of divine toil,

Though, He rested finally,

Being satisfied at last

On the seventh day.

 

Out of a handful dust from her womb

God made Adam, by such name he was called

And with God’s breathe of life

What was once a lump with limbs

Has become like Him in image

And let to roam the Garden of Eden.

But then, loneliness soon had its toll

Which when God has perceived –

From Adam’s rib, He made Eve.

 

Alas! Mother Earth now nurtured

Not only lesser creatures

But the pair that God made

In His own image;

A paradise, Eden was supposed to be

But to it, a serpent found its way

Tempting Eve to have a taste of ecstasy

And, no sooner than she did have a bite

She made Adam commit the same apostasy!

 

The blunder made by Adam and Eve

Instigated the misery of Mother Earth

As they opened the floodgate of afflictions

That soon blemished her once pristine face;

Greed and selfishness, for long led lives –

Cain putting to death his own brother Abel

And many others whose names are written

On the sacred pages of the age-old Book

And all it needs is for us is to take a serious look.

 

And it is so sad,

As warnings that Mother Earth belched

In her effort to wake man up with a jolt

Did not budge him even just a bit…

 

 

The Bird Festival of Tacurong City (May 12-13, 2017)

The Bird Festival of Tacurong City (May12-13, 2017)

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The just concluded Bird Festival of Tacurong City, held on May 12 and 13 has been a resounding success with several travel bloggers and prominent personalities who are nature lovers in attendance. A contingent from ABS-CBN from Davao City also covered the duration of the affair which included activities such as forum on birdwatching and nature conservation at the Notre Dame of Tacurong College, photo exhibit at the bridge area of Fitmart, bazaar, and art exhibit highlighted by actual application of tattoo on willing visitors, by local tattoo artists at the parking ground of the sanctuary.

 

The Baras Bird Sanctuaty is located in the barangay of Baras which is a few-minute drive from the downtown area. Owned by Rey Malana and subsidized by the city government, it is situated along the eastern bank of Kapingkong River. Bamboo groves and madre de cacao trees or “kakawate”, many of which are more than 50 years old provide home to the indigenous and migratory birds from mainland China and neighboring Southeast Asian countries. But, dominant among the avian population is the locally known “tagak” or heron.

 

The sanctuary started as an ordinary “farm” of the Malana family with bamboo groves providing shade to the long stretch of the river bank. When Rey who took care of the property observed the steady arrival of birds which eventually enhanced the increasing population of the indigenous ones, he decided to protect them.  Foremost of his restrictive policies is the non-entry of vehicles beyond the entrance shaded with the branches of trees and bamboos creating an impression of a tunnel. This is necessary to prevent the disturbance of the bird, especially, the nesting ones.

 

Due to the popularity gained by the sanctuary, thanks to the discreet visit of bloggers who shared their experience among their followers, the local government under the stewardship of Mayor Lina Montilla, initially, provided support. Later, the local tourism office headed by Ms. Emilie Jamorabon, tried hard how to harness the popularity to boost their tourism effort. With the early festivals having shown encouraging results, Ms. Jamorabon sought support from friends for the rest of the festivities that followed.

 

The avian festival has decidedly boosted the tourism program of the city which to date is already gaining ground due to the mushrooming of inland resorts located along the peripheries of the downtown area, most especially, in Baras and New Passi, home of the internationally-known Monte Vicenteaux Resort. According to Ms. Jamorabon, more plans are being conceived to encourage birdwatchers from other parts of the country to visit Baras. Among the plan is the putting up of viewing posts and accommodation facilities that would follow the concept of “nature tourism”.

 

The Baras Bird Sanctuary, is the first-ever community- protected avian haven in southern Mindanao. It provides a serene oasis in the midst of vast palm oil plantations that stretch from Montilla, Katungal, up to New Passi. From the air, the canopy of the palm trees looks like a stretch of dark jade panorama….no wonder the winged creatures found solace among the branches where they built their nests to mark their well-chosen home!

 

Ang Napariwarang Yamang Likas ng Pilipinas

Ang Napapariwarang Yamang Likas

Ng Pilipinas

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ang mga Pilipino ay matatalino

At sa likas na yaman ay sagana tayo

Mga karagatan natin ay umaapaw sa laman –

Isda, kabebe, perlas, at iba’t ibang gulaman.

 

Mga gubat, tahanan ng mga ibon

Pati ng mga hayop, alaga ng panahon

Mga punong namumutiktik ng mga prutas –

At sa mga sakit ay nakakapagbigay ng lunas.

 

Mga ilog, sapa, lawa, pati baybayin

Mga palanas, burol, at luntiang bukirin

Ang dulot nila sa mga talagang masigasig –

Masaganang buhay na pawis ang nagdilig.

 

Noon yan….

 

Dahil ngayo’y sadyang nakakalungkot

Mga pangyayari na napakamasalimuot

Mga biyayang likas na bigay ng Maykapal

Napariwarang lahat….mistulang ginahasa

Na animo ay babae na nawalan ng dangal!

Ang Napapariwarang Yamang Likas

Ng Pilipinas

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ang mga Pilipino ay matatalino

At sa likas na yaman ay sagana tayo

Mga karagatan natin ay umaapaw sa laman –

Isda, kabebe, perlas, at iba’t ibang gulaman.

 

Mga gubat, tahanan ng mga ibon

Pati ng mga hayop, alaga ng panahon

Mga punong namumutiktik ng mga prutas –

At sa mga sakit ay nakakapagbigay ng lunas.

 

Mga ilog, sapa, lawa, pati baybayin

Mga palanas, burol, at luntiang bukirin

Ang dulot nila sa mga talagang masigasig –

Masaganang buhay na pawis ang nagdilig.

 

Noon yan….

 

Dahil ngayo’y sadyang nakakalungkot

Mga pangyayari na napakamasalimuot

Mga biyayang likas na bigay ng Maykapal

Napariwarang lahat….mistulang ginahasa

Na animo ay babae na nawalan ng dangal!

Mga Berdugo ng Sangkatauhan at Kalikasan

Mga Berdugo ng Sangkatauhan at Kalikasan

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Isang uri ng dugo ang nananalaytay sa ugat ng mga berdugo ng sangkatauhan at kalikasan – kulay itim na dugo ng kasakiman. Sila ang mga kurakot sa gobyerno, mga drug lords na pasimuno sa illegal na droga, mga illegal loggers at kapitalista ng minahan…mga ganid sa yaman na wala na yatang kasiyahan sukdulan mang masagasaan nila ang karapatan ng ibang tao at masira ang kalikasan.

 

Dahil kahit papaano ay may konsiyensiya din kuno, nagtatago sila sa likod ng maskara na abot-tenga ang ngiti para masabing may busilak silang puso. Upang makapagkunwaring sila ay maka-Diyos, may mga iskolar kuno na pinapaaral, yon pala ay kinakalabaw sa pagtrabaho sa kanilang kumpanya bilang kontraktwal na mga empleyado. Nagpapatayo din sila ng mga simbahan at namimigay ng mga donasyon tuwing may kalamidad, yon nga lang karamihan ay expired o pa-expire na kaya kailangang makain agad at kung hindi ay ibabaon ng DSW na naman sa lupa tulad ng ginawa nila sa Tacloban. Sila yong may mga “Foundation” na itinayo upang magamit lang palang pang-discount sa buwis na dapat nilang bayaran!…mga wise talaga!

 

Mas masahol pa sa on-the-spot na kamatayan ang dulot ng mga berdugong ito dahil unti-unti nilang pinapahirapan ang mga biktima hanggang sa hindi na makagulapay at bumigay….kung hindi dahil sa pagka-adik sa droga ay natokhang nang maging drug runner dahil ang lupang sinasaka sa probinsiyang iniwan ay kinamkam ng mga banyaga upang mapagminahan ng ginto at iba pang likas na yaman.

 

Sila yong nagkakalbo ng dating luntiang kagubatan, ang naghuhukay ng mga lupang nilason ng kemikal na ginamit nila sa pagmimina, na ang tagas ay dumaloy sa mga ilog hanggang sa mga baybaying dagat at pumatay sa mga isda at iba pang yamang-dagat. Sila rin yong nagko-convert ng mga dating sakahan o taniman ng palay at mais upang maging mga subdivision kaya ang bansa na dati ay isa sa mga exporter ng bigas, ngayon ay importer na lang, kaya ang halaga ay halos hindi na kayang abutin ng malaking bahagi ng populasyon ng Pilipinas.

 

Ang mga berdugong ito ay maaaring kapwa Pilipino o mga banyagang dumayo sa ating bansa, nagpundar pero ang kinita ay pinapadala naman sa pinagmulang bansa.

 

 

The Dear Price of Promised Progress from the Mining Industry

The Dear Price of Promised Progress

From the Mining Industry

In the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Once mined, a particular parcel of land can never recover lost yields – minerals in various forms that sustain life and top soil that enforce the earth’s crust. And, that is what is happening to the archipelagic Philippines which is being eaten up by the industry. Today, the tumultuous political atmosphere of the country is further jittered by the decision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel the permit of many mining firms, a decision which is not to the delight of some sectors, especially, those that have been directly and financially affected due to their stakes. A big howl also comes from the purported human rights advocates who use loss of job as their tool for protest, as if only mining offers the opportunity to earn and nothing else.

 

The root cause of the swarming of mining ventures in the country, mostly foreign-based, is the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which was authored by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she was yet, a senator. It allowed foreigners to have a 100% ownership of land areas that they have claimed for mining. The blanket authority eventually paved the way towards the virgin mountains and forests of the country for any foreigner who was willing to invest in mining ventures. Rainforests were cleared, hills and agricultural lands were excavated, and chemicals polluted rivers, streams that flowed to the estuaries and coastal waters…and farmers lost their farms. At the rate abuse of the country’s natural resources are going, this law needs to be revoked.

 

During the presidential incumbency of Benigno Aquino III, the issuance of mining permits multiplied which enriched even local government officials. Although, some of the farmers were employed by the mining firms, their pay was meager compared to the former yields of their farm. The mushrooming of temporary mining communities resulted to the proliferation of crimes and prostitutions that literally eroded the values of the once sedate villagers and scandalized their once laid back way of life. The polluted air and water brought about diseases that emaciated the once healthy locals and the prices of basic commodities, especially, food, soared. Practically, the industry that has been hoped to bring progress, instead, devastated communities and their inhabitants.

 

Although, the financial effect to the country’s economy by the move to stop the mining operation can be recovered from other ventures, the recovery from its effects to the people and community could definitely be felt for a long time, as it involves cleansing of the polluted soil, the water beneath it and what flows on the surface. The government would definitely be helpless, in fact, more helpless, as shown by its inutile effort in tackling other problems that pester the country. This unfortunate fact leaves Mother Nature to do some kind of a self-healing. The eroded moral values and culture of the people may take generations to recoup. On the other hand, those who have been physically suffering and wasting due to the onset of diseases could just gasp for short breaths of the polluted air while holding on to their dear life!

 

At the outset, even without mentioning figures to show its devastation, the effects of the ABUSED OPPORTUNITY in mining the natural resources of the Philippines are very obvious. However, if the government decides to put a stop to it to give Mother Nature some respite, it must have READY FALLBACK PROGRAMS, NOT JUST PLANS for the displaced miners, considering that this problem has been plaguing the country for decades. Farming and fishing in the same devastated areas is out of the question because of the polluted land, rivers and coastal waters.

 

The most realistic move is to relocate the affected people to ANY RURAL AREA of their own choice, an option which means reasonable and realistic compensation. However, this problem could be aggravated if the concerned mining firms would also ask for compensation due to the cessation of their highly-financed operation….a suggestion is to use the confiscated money from drug operations.

 

The mining industry in the Philippines is proof that progress has a dear price. It glaringly shows that any venture that has got to do with Nature’s exploitation can be devastating…even with promises of proper management, as there is an innate tendency of man to deviate from the proper course due to greed!