Seriously, the title says it all. It wasn’t until we reached our destination for our NATSCA2 birding or rather birdwatching site did that came from.
Early 5:30 AM, Ms. Morello’s NATSCA2 class assembled at Blue Wave and was picked up by her and the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines team and headed off to LPPCHEA (Las Pinas – Paranaque Critical Habitat and Eco-tourism area).
The sun was already high when we got there and Dennis P. Liuag, the author of Birds of Coastal Lagoon article in Philippine Daily Inquirer, briefed us on what we will be doing on the place. They lent us binoculars and had us formed into two groups so it would be easier to tour the class around the place.
Why of course I ended up in Mr. Liuag’s group. We first set-up the big telescope/ binoculars the WBCP brought along with them and they showed us bird species such as kingfishers sitting atop on the telephone wire, egrets and some herons flying and other birds which I couldn’t recall their names anymore.
Then we headed off to Freedom Island, a part of LPPCHEA that stretches out to the sea covered by bakawan or mangroves on its shores. There we saw a yellow-crested bulbul and inside the island, the group revealed to us a hidden paradise, undisturbed and untouched by mankind (well partly, except for the area where the caretakers placed a trailer for the authorities to stay in).
Mr. Liuag invited us to go deeper in the Freedom Island and well, it was kinda scary a bit since it was only my 2nd time to get into a forest like that (we almost got lost lol). Inside there was more of what we saw of that paradise then until we saw this dead bird, which Mr. Liuag identifies as an undeveloped bird (I forgot what specie sorry).
We then returned to our path since we’ve reached the dead end of the Freedom Island when suddenly Mr. Liuag invited us to take a different path, this time at the “beach”.
We then went through bushes, wet plastics and lots of shoes and finally setting foot on the beach of the Freedom Island decorated with garbage that were washed ashore and lots of shells. Mr. Liuag explained to us that on the previous coastal clean ups, the volunteers dug through seemingly-endless pile of garbage covering the beach. It took them hours before they have achieved in unearthing the ground itself, covered with shells. Seeing the outcome of the previous coastal clean up, he told us that it wouldn’t be long enough that this beach would be clean and usable someday. It’s never too late at all.
Interest sparked on me. If we get more volunteers for coastal clean-ups then the faster this place would get cleaned. The place is already a wonder if you’d look it from the shore. It offers a great spot for sunsets, tanning and of course, bird watching. As he explained earlier during the briefing, the only solution for the salvation of this paradise is by:
1. Giving people jobs – What kind of jobs you mean? It can be from waste disposal to being tour guides / guardians of the area. It’d be a plus for Las Pinas and Paranaque citizens because it will be a sure- hit tourist destination someday and also a place to boast and share to the citizens of Manila.
2. Stop reclaiming land – the MOA stretch is already reclaimed and yet, not fully utilized. So why reclaim more? Reclaiming land destroys the habitats of different species residing in those mangroves thereby, weakening the protection of the coastal areas during storm surges. Plus, we can’t assure the safety of the people in those reclaimed areas since it has proven to be weak: see those uneven surfaces of land beside MOA’s IMAX theater– that’s one clear picture of impending danger.
3. Taking care of our surroundings – Taking note of the 3R’s: Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle, we can minimize the amount of garbage that ends up in our seas. Or by just being practical on what we use, consume and do.
and many more (i forgot the other ones >_<)
Anyways, back to the beach. Our group decided to walk further, meaning: walk near to the birds huddling at the end of the shoreline. Mr. Liuag gladly accompanied us, sharing facts and stories along the way. He even asked us to find dead barbies along the way since he experienced walking on a shore of dead barbies recently lol. Flash was the first one to reach the farthest point, farther than the students of St. Scholastica reached during the coastal clean-up. We were like kids rejoicing because we were able to set foot on the area where water used to cover it during high-tide. Our group discovered pools on the area and footprints of the plover that were prancing there before we set foot. On the other side of the end of the shoreline shows an ugly picture of mankind’s ignorance, garbage everywhere: stuck on the roots of mangroves– even decorated the branches of a lone mangrove! It was a pitiful sight (that I wasn’t able to take shot of since Flash was using my cam) I wish everyone could see– show to the public and hoping someday we’d reach those areas and free those mangroves from the icky situation.
Our exploration was cut early since the sea water is already bubbling back to the pools we saw earlier, so the group hastily left the place before we all submerge along with it.
Back at the parking lot, WBCP thanks us and we all return our borrowed binoculars and in return, they gave us each stickers of some birds that inhabit the area. Sweet! We then take account of how to return since some of our classmates have left and there are only 2 cars for the remaining students to fit in– and so we ended up having more than 10 in Ms. Morellos’ mini van O_O. Along the way, the class went on this really thin service road and it was really thrilling since we were driving beside the sea itself — no fences to block us. Ms. Morellos stopped for some photos and we later on left. I had myself dropped at Baclaran and later on ended at MOA to watch Happy Feet 2 (as requirement for our finals project).
Someday my children would be able to see that beach I saw earlier- but this time, clean and usable.. and I will be part of that change, hoping that the future generations will be able to experience the remaining paradise we unearthed out of filth.
MOA San Miguel Bay:
National Figure Ice Skating Competition 2011:
cats from Loyola Cemetery: