Philippine Eagle Foundation Davao

Philippine Eagle Foundation Davao

While in Davao Philippines recently, I visited the Philippine Eagle Foundation’s conservation Center.
Philippine Eagle Center
It took an hour by Grab to get to the center which is in the outskirts of Davao City. The Philippine Eagle, (Scientific Name: Pithecophaga jefferyi) also known as the monkey eating eagle after its favorite food, has a Critically endangered Status. It is believed that there are less than 400 pairs remaining living in the wild. Eagles found injured are brought to the foundation with the goal of getting them well and returned to the wild. If they can not recover fully and are unable to hunt for themselves they will stay at the conservation center. Birds at the center are also used in a research and a breeding program. There are currently 7 Philippine Eagles in exhibit for education while the rest are isolated for conservation breeding and research purposes.

Philippine Eagle Conservation Center

Philippine Eagle

The center is also home for other birds of prey who can not return to the wild.

Philippine Eagle Conservation Center

 

From their website:  The Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) is an 8.4-hectare area located at the foothills of Mt. Apo in Malagos, Baguio District, Davao City and situated within the Malagos Watershed. The Philippine Eagle Center primarily operates as a conservation breeding facility for the critically endangered Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) and other birds of prey.Philippine Eagle Conservation Center

The Center is divided into different functional areas, such as:

  • Conservation Breeding Area. This is where the breeding birds are found. This area is restricted to the public and only the conservation breeding personnel are allowed in its premises.
  • Food Stock Area. This is where the food for the raptors and other animals are raised to ensure a disease-free stock such as rabbits, white mice, quails, and guinea pigs. These stocks are needed for the daily food requirements of every animal at the Center.
  • Exhibit Area. This area is open to the general public, wherein exhibit animals are displayed. It is further divided into two parts:
      • The close canopy (covered by trees) area is a natural forest adjacent to the Malagos Watershed. Here you will find large old trees and the first few cages that the Philippine Eagle Foundation ever built. Being a natural forest, this part of the Center is relatively rough compared to the rest.

    Philippine Eagle Conservation Center

    • The plaza/exhibit part is an open canopy area with concrete pathways leading to every enclosure, kiosks and benches available for the guests.

Philippine Eagle Conservation CenterThe conservation center is a little underwhelming. Overall, it is very small but depending on the amount of time you watch the birds and other wildlife can take you anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to see. Three hours for photographers. There are a number of cages that each house one bird, mostly Eagles the rest other birds of prey. A audio video presentation is also available.

I love this photo. The baby is trying to climb the tree. Look closely and you will see the mother is holding the tail making sure he not getting away.

I love this photo. The baby is trying to climb the tree. Look closely and you will see the mother is holding the tail making sure he not getting away.

There is an “island” of Long-tailed Macaque. I will admit it was amazing watching the social interactions these primates had between themselves.

Philippine Eagle Conservation Center

The foundation’s website also has this to say:

We need to protect the Philippine Eagle for the following reasons:

  • It is found nowhere else except in the Philippines where it is the country’s national bird. Losing the species to extinction would also mean losing a nation’s precious biological heritage.
  • It represents a rare product of evolutionary creation. Based on recent genetic studies, it has no close relatives left among the living species of eagles in the world. Losing them would mean an irreversible loss of a unique species.
  • The Philippine Eagle is the top predator of the Philippine tropical rainforest. It plays an important role in keeping the ecosystem in balance and provides an umbrella of protection to all other life forms in its territory.
  • The Philippine Eagle is embedded in the oral histories and other cultural artefacts of several indigenous groups in the country. This indicates that it performs a role in the human production of unique cultures.
  • Economically, the presence of a healthy eagle population can also be a source of livelihood for the communities living near its area such as eco- tourism. Additionally, a healthy forest helps control soil erosion, mitigate the effects of climate change, minimize flooding, and provides additional sources of food, medicine, clothing, and shelter for our people.
  • These different spectrum of values unifies the diverse facets of our society. The role that the Philippine Eagle plays rightly deserves its title as the Philippine’s national bird- a symbol of unity, beauty and hope. This underscores the need to protect it for future Filipinos and the rest of the world to benefit and enjoy.

Entrance to the center is only 150 pesos for adults, less for children. That is about USD 3.

We took a Grap (merged with uber last year) to the center from downtown to the center for about 700 pesos, $14. Our return trip, we took a trike to the transportation center nearby for less than a dollar and from the transportation center took a L300 (a commuter style van) back downtown for about $1 each.

Philippine Eagle Center

My Favorite Tour Guide Caren

Overall a very nice outing.

#Wildlifeishere #CelebratingWildlife

Church Book Cover

Churches of Pampanga Philiippines

Book cover

The Spanish had the Philippines as a colony for over 500 years. Originally ruled from Spanish Mexico, it has a blend of cultures not seen elsewhere in Asia. Today, the Philippines is a predominate Catholic country. Over 80% of the people are Catholic with another more than 10% other christian faiths. This can be seen in the week long Holy Week celebrations, the observance of All Hallows Day and the 3 month long lead up to Christmas.
This small selection of churches located in the Province of Pampanga are some of the oldest in the country, but they are just a few of those left behind when the Spanish left in 1898.

I received a number of comments about the photographs I had taken of these churches, that I decided to publish them in a book.

It is not a very large book but it is very nice. It can be found on Amazon and ordered from any book store. Best way is to order from the createspace site for Churches of Pampanga

Churches of Pampanga Philippines

St James the Apostle Church: Betis, Guagua Pampanga This church is considered one of the finest remaining example of a Colonial Spanish Church. The details in the ceiling paintings and the quality of the carvings behind the alter attracted the devoted and art lovers alike.

St James the Apostle Church: Betis, Guagua Pampanga
This church is considered one of the finest remaining example of a Colonial Spanish Church. The details in the ceiling paintings and the quality of the carvings behind the alter attracted the devoted and art lovers alike.

Churches of Pampanga Philippines

From the late 1500’s to 1898, the Philippines were a colony of Spain. The Spanish’s mandate from the Pope was to find new lands and convert the heathens to Christianity. At the time, the Lubao River and what is now called the Betis River were navigable and it became a natural place for the Spanish to develop. The Spanish settle at a small native village and in 1576 established the Pueblo of Bacolor. The local “land lord” was Don Guillermo Manabat.

The Bell Tower of San Guillermo Parish Church The first church was built on this site in 1576 with the establishment of Pueblo of Bacolor. Present church was built in 1764.

The Bell Tower of San Guillermo Parish Church
The first church was built on this site in 1576 with the establishment of Pueblo of Bacolor. Present church was built in 1764.

San Guillermo Parish Church

Spanish towns were built with a common concept. There was a plaza, often with a fountain in the center, on one side of the plaza was the church. The clergy selected Saint William the Hermit as the town’s patron saint. Saint William’s Spanish name was San Guillermo Emitano and the church became know as San Guillermo Parish Church. Today Bacolor is a small town shadowed by its larger neighbors San Fernando and Lubao. It has a very important past however.

  • In 1745, Bacolor was the acting capital of Pampanga which at that time cover an area now divided into 6 provinces ( States )
  • In 1755 it became the official capital of the province.
  • In 1762 when the British attacked Manila, the Spanish government moved the National government to Bacolor.
  • In 1764, while still the national capital, the original church was replaced by a stone one that still exists. By Royal Degree Bacolor became Villa Bacolor, one of only three “Villa” in the country.
San Guillermo Parish Church This stone church was built in 1764, replacing the original church which was heavily damages by some earlier earthquakes and had its dome collapsed a few years earlier.

San Guillermo Parish Church
This stone church was built in 1764, replacing the original church which was heavily damages by some earlier earthquakes and had its dome collapsed a few years earlier.

San Guillermo Parish Church Close up

San Guillermo Parish Church Close up

The church that remains today has most of the features of the church built in 1764, however there has been significant changes due to the force of nature. In June of 1991, Mount Pinatubo volcano erupted with one of the strongest eruption in recorded history. The eruption change the course of history for many Filipinos and the effects of the eruption was felt worldwide as the ash cloud in the atmosphere eventual covered the entire earth and raised the worldwide temperature. Highly productive farmland was turned into waste land in the area around Bacolor. After the initial disaster, more follow in the form of lahar. Lahar is a combination of the ash that reached the ground, small debris and water, it looks like the concrete coming out a commercial cement truck. Thick,slow moving and unstoppable. Like concrete when it dries out it is super dense. Every heavy rain brought more material off the mountains. In September of 1995, the situation became so bad that half of the 12 meter high ( about 40 feet) church was under the lahar and the town of 50,000 had to be evacuated.

Interior of San Guillermo Parish Church

Interior of San Guillermo Parish Church

In the photograph above, the green banners are above the top of the 12 meter high walls, as you can see today they are much less than 12 meters. In the photograph of the front of the church the entrance doors were at one time about 20 feet tall. If you look closely at the bell tower photograph, through the tree you will see an arch, it is just above ground level. That was the second level of the tower. The first level and the entrance are all now buried.

Alter and Retablos This area is well known for the quality of the alters and the Retablos. A Retablos is the structure behind the alter.

Alter and Retablos
This area is well known for the quality of the alters and the Retablos. A Retablos is the structure behind the alter.

As you walk around the outside of the church you will see small half circle windows, these are the top two or three feet of what once were large stain glass windows. Rounding the back of the church you come to a large open field, with a few triangular shapes sticking out and a small dome.

: Campo Santo De Bacolor The cemetery of Bacolor was in use from 1776 till 1991 when it was covered with six meters of lahar.

Campo Santo De Bacolor
The cemetery of Bacolor was in use from 1776 till 1991 when it was covered with six meters of lahar.

This is the church’s cemetery used for about 250 years, there are thousands buried here. However the graves are all covered with about 12 feet of lahar. The roofs of the structures you see in the cemetery are two stories tall. There are plaques along the walls showing the names of those that are buried here according to the church records.

Immaculate Conception Parish, Guagua Pampanga Immaculate Conception Parish dates back to 1590, the last major modification was in 1892. destination a Historical monument in 1982

Immaculate Conception Parish, Guagua Pampanga
Immaculate Conception Parish dates back to 1590, the last major modification was in 1892. Designated a Historical monument in 1982

Immaculate Conception Parish, Guagua Pampanga

Within ten miles of San Guillermo Parish Church are another twenty or so churches built before the Spanish left in 1898. Each has its history, and some really stand out. Immaculate Conception Parish, in Guagua Pampanga is about four miles away. While much of the outside of the building is hidden from view, inside some of the original portions of the building can still be seen, while most of it is from it renovation in 1892.

 Church of Lubao Founded in 1572 and moved to current location in 1602. current building dates to 1630. building is made of brick, the mortar to hold the bricks in place was made from sand mixed with egg whites.

Church of Lubao
Founded in 1572 and moved to current location in 1602. current building dates to 1630. building is made of brick, the mortar to hold the bricks in place was made from sand mixed with egg whites.

Church of Lubao

Here is something for you to think about as you eat your eggs for breakfast. The Church of Lubao was built in 1630. the tower is part of the original structure. It is made from bricks. Like any masonry work, mortar is used between layers to stick them together. In this case the mortar was made of sand fixed with egg whites.

Church of Lubao Designated a Historical site in 1952, it was also the church where President Macapagal the fifth President of the Philippines(1961-1965) was Baptized in 1910

Church of Lubao
Designated a Historical site in 1952, it was also the church where President Macapagal the fifth President of the Philippines(1961-1965) was Baptized in 1910

In addition to the religious history of this church, the church was used as a revolutionary headquarters in the uprising against the Spanish in 1898 and in 1899 was used by the Americans as a hospital.

Lubao alter The alter and Retablo of the Lubao Church

Lubao alter
The alter and Retablo of the Lubao Church

Lubao Bell Tower Bell tower of Lubao Church was used as an observation point by the Revolutionaries in the late 1890's

Lubao Bell Tower
Bell tower of Lubao Church was used as an observation point by the Revolutionaries in the late 1890’s

Christ Statue, St James Church While Betis artist were known to work mostly in wood, in the later centuries they also became renown for their work in stone and even more recently have adapted Lahar to be used for statues.

Christ Statue, St James Church
While Betis artist were known to work mostly in wood, in the later centuries they also became renown for their work in stone and even more recently have adapted Lahar to be used for statues.

St James Church

St James the Apostle Church often called the Betis church is in the Betis section of Guagua Pampanga has been called the Sistine Chapel of Asia. The ceiling of the church has a number of finely painted panels with various scenes. It is a Baroque inspired design that was built initially in 1660 with wood and other lightweight material, however that structure was upgrade as it caught fire a number of times, in 1770’s the church was rebuilt with concrete materials.

St. James Ceiling The painting in the ceiling at St. James date back as far as the late 1700's. They have been restored a number of times with major work done in 1930 and 1970.

St. James Ceiling
The painting in the ceiling at St. James date back as far as the late 1700’s. They have been restored a number of times with major work done in 1930 and 1970.

St. James Dome Another example of the art work in Saint James church

St. James Dome
Another example of the art work in Saint James church

Betis Pampanga is a little town with an international reputation, a reputation for fine furniture. The local artisans produce some of the best hand carve furniture in the world. There are many myths and stories about when this started, most people discount the stories saying it is a recent development but archive documents suggest differently. Betis is the name of a wide river in Spain. When early Spanish settles arrived in the area they saw a similar looking river and named it Betis and the town took the name. In the Spanish archives there are many references to Betis carvings, however they had been attributed to the area in Spain. However documents found in the archives in Manila from the Spanish colonial period seem to indicate that the Betis was the one in the Philippines. The most accepted fairy tale is that in the late 1600’s the local workers learned wood carving from Chinese Slave labors who were task to build the interiors of the newly constructed churches. The Filipinos quickly learned and adapted the traits, they also became very skill at being able to reproduce items of arts from drawings and painting of the items. Being highly skilled wood carvers and devote ( whether voluntary of not) Catholics they spent considerable time creating beautiful alters and Retablos.

 St James Alter The Alter and Retablos of St. James

St James Alter
The Alter and Retablos of St. James

The Betis church has eight chapels within a few minutes walk from the church. Each of these also have very elaborate Retablos. They are consider the finest collection of Spanish Retablos from their era.

Ceiling painting at St James It is hard to estimate the sizes of the ceiling paintings but pacing off the distance on the floor looking up, I would estimate this ceiling painting is about 10 feet by 15 feet.

Ceiling painting at St James
It is hard to estimate the sizes of the ceiling paintings but pacing off the distance on the floor looking up, I would estimate this ceiling painting is about 10 feet by 15 feet.

Wood Carving A wood carving in the style that Betis became famous for. Date is unknown but expected to be a few hundred years old.

Wood Carving
A wood carving in the style that Betis became famous for. Date is unknown but expected to be a few hundred years old.

Smaller wood carvings like this one that is on the wall at St. James’s were a status symbol in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. The Spanish controlled the wealth and very few Filipinos were allowed to have the finery that the Spanish enjoyed. The locals used the carvings as their show of devotion and if it was expensive and everyone knew it, well that was secondary.

The Spanish left their influence on the Philippines in many ways, but most of those ways center around the church. Churches such as these with long rich histories are a product of that time.

Note: This article was written about 3 years ago for another website. However, I had retained all rights. That website is no loner active, so I uploaded the articles here. It was one of 6 photo essays that I did for the other site.