Sunday, September 27

the flood...

i would've never thought it to happen to us
one minute i was playing with the dogs, trying to clean pearl's ears (oh wait, who's pearl? that's another storm altogether). from the terrace i watched the water rise, until we all started getting panicky.

rugs started to be rolled. then it was already to late to bring out the cars to higher ground.  we started grabbing everything in sight and carrying it to the second floor.
the last picture i took before utter panic was this:

the water about to breach the windows.  (when we inspected the damage later, the water line reached up to about 3 inches above the horizontal grill).  we gave up when we began to see snakes (tiny ones) swimming everywhere (yes,even inside the house).

absolutely helpless, we all retreated to the second floor (6 people and 3 dogs and 1 cockatiel). and the water continued to rise and rise and rise.

i tried not to think of my beloved car which had never, ever failed me, being swallowed by the dirty flood water. of my dad's car and my sister's car in the same garage.  of the cockatiels, budgies and the lone lovebird who were probably in panic over the rising water. of the books and photos from fiji and concep that i was not able to save. of all the furniture floating around. (yes, it was amazing, everything floated: the dining table, the antique four poster bed, the upholstered sofas, the carved chests, chairs, shelves, kitchen tables, even the chest freezer).

from my bedroom window, i watched people swimming in the street (video later), a brown shrike relentlessly fishing out drowning insects from the water, and my niece's plastic slide and swing set floating in circles in our front yard.

and just before the flood waters could breach our 6 foot fence. it stopped raining. and the flood waters started to recede.  in an hour we could survey the damage. it was heartbreaking. 

but then the people on the street shouted that there was a dead body in the creek.  and i saw that our next door neighbors lived in bungalows. and i heard the devastation all over metro manila on the news.

it will be a MAJOR overhaul, cleaning and tons of things to throw out.  but for me and my family, tomorrow the sun will shine, and everything will dry out. i still have a lot to be thankful for.

i read in the papers that yesterday typhoon ondoy dumped 341 milliliters of rain on metro manila in 6 hours. the averag rainfall for metro manila for september is 391.7 millilters. ano ba namang laban natin dun?

Friday, September 25

5th philipine bird festival: balanga here we come!

Eto na naman tayo!!! Birdfest na!!! Pasyal na sa Balanga sa October 9 & 10!

Ibong Dayo, Kaibigan Tayo
5th Philippine Bird Festival
Balanga, Bataan

Bird watchers, conservationists and nature enthusiasts from here and abroad are expected to flock to the Bataan Provincial Capitol grounds in Balanga City on October 9 and 10 for the 5th annual Philippine Bird Festival, the country’s largest celebration of avifaunal diversity and bird lore awareness.

The Philippine Bird Festival will mark the arrival from the Asian mainland and Japan of wintering shorebirds with the official dedication of the Balanga Nature and Wetland Park, the first protected wetland park in the whole Manila Bay area.

Themed Ibong Dayo, Kaibigan Tayo! (The Migrant Birds: Our Friends), this year’s bird festival aims to drum public support for the conservation and awareness of the Balanga wetlands, where more than 15,000 individual birds were on record during the Asian Waterbird Census in January.

The wetlands of Puerto Rivas in Balanga City attract one of the largest concentration of migrant shorebirds and waterfowl anywhere in the Philippines, according to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP), the country’s leading bird watching society and organizer of the Philippine Bird Festival.

"The Balanga wetlands consistently land in the country’s top 5 wetlands with the most number of wintering water birds, which included Candaba Marsh in Pampanga and Olango Island in Cebu," said WBCP president Michael Lu, who participated in the annual survey. These three sites are on the Asian flyway, but the Balanga wetlands located across the Bay from Metro Manila continues to be a surprise. "We hope to bring attention to the need to conserve the entire coastline and waters of Manila Bay," he said.

The Balanga wetlands are being promoted as a bird watching destination by the Adventure Philippines campaign of the Department of Tourism and the Recreational Outdoor Exchange, according to Lu.

Bird Festival Committee chair Alice Villa-Real said the annual event hopes to raise the bar of awareness about the bird life of the islands, promote public interest in conservation and encourage the creation of more public green spaces.

Villa-Real said there are more than 600 species of birds in the Philippines, no fewer than 200 are found only in the archipelago. She also said places like the mudflats and remaining mangroves of the Manila Bay coastline provide a temporary home for migrant birds like the rare Chinese Egret, Grey Heron (talabong), Whiskered Terns (kanaway), sandpipers and plovers (tarinting).

This year’s Bird Festival will open with the dedication ceremony at the Balanga Nature and Wetland Park in Tortugas, followed by street dancing by local troupes along the route to the new Plaza Mayor de Balanga. The exhibit of bird photos, lectures and film screenings at the People’s Center in the capitol grounds will be open to the public free of charge. Organizers said an activity center featuring bird-themed games, arts and crafts, and face painting will be on tap for the young and the young at heart. The Provincial Government is simultaneously staging a trade fair on the Capitol grounds that will feature the best products from 12 towns in Bataan.

The Philippine Bird Festival was launched by local bird watching hobbyists in 2005 and has since brought the message of birdlife awareness and conservation to Cebu City and Puerto Princesa in Palawan, two of the country’s important bird areas.

Similar events take place throughout the world each year, attracting large numbers of bird watchers, scientists and nature enthusiasts. In Asia, some of the well-known events are the annual Taipei International Birdwatching Fair in Taiwan and Malaysia’s Raptor Watch Week.

This year’s Philippine Bird Festival is sponsored by the City of Balanga and the Province of Bataan, Department of Tourism, Team Energy Foundation, Genesis Transport, Primer Group, Recreational Outdoor Exchange (ROX), & Columbia Sportswear Company.

Taiwan’s Wild Bird Society of Taipei, Kaoshiung Wild Bird Society and Chinese Wild Bird Federation, the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, Hong Kong Birdwatching Society, the Nature Society of Singapore, Wild Bird Society of Hualien and the Malaysia Nature Society have announced their participation in this year’s festival.

Local conservation organizations Philippine Eagle Foundation of Davao, the Katala Foundation of Palawan, World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines, Isla Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, the Polillo Island Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Pederasyon sa Nagkahiusang mga Mag-uuma nga Nanalipud ug Napasig-uli sa Kinaiyahan Inc. of Dumaguete, Birdwatch Palawan, Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, and Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, the Municipality of Candaba in Pampanga, the City of Bislig in Surigao del Sur and Bataan Artists Society also made known their support for the Balanga event.

Friday, September 4

noisy bird at my window

when the weather is gloomy and the morning rainy, the long-tailed shrike from the parking lot keeps warm at our office aircon vent.  everytime it does this it makes quite a racket.  this morning it was right outside my cubicle. it took a curious look at me (looking back at it):

and decided i wasn't worth his attention, turned around and went on preening and making chirpy-gurgly sounds.

i love these ateneo shrikes. i should go around the campus one morning and take photos of them. i've seen them on top of st. ignatius' head and on his sword in front of the m.o., on mama mary's head in the marian prayer garden and perched on all sorts of signs, bars, and even the football goals. project!