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Zamboanga City Bird Festival 2016

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Exploring Great Sta Cruz Island Lagoon
Exploring Great Sta Cruz Island Lagoon

Zamboanga City Bird Festival 2016

Last February 23-25, I was invited by Regional Director Mary June Bugante of the Department of Tourism (DoT) Region IX to celebrate Zamboanga City’s Bird Festival with them. It has been almost a decade since I last visited Zamboanga City, so when I was extended the invitation, I can’t help but readily say yes.

Early Morning view at Lantaka Hotel by the Sea
Early Morning view at Lantaka Hotel by the Sea

Zamboanga City Bird Festival 2016 is just the second instalment of the event. This year’s festival has the theme “Cuida Y Protégé la Vida del pajaro” (translates to: Save and Protect Birdlife). This year’s festival was hosted and organized by Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZSCMST), which is headed by Dr. Milavel Nazario. In partnership with the school, Department of Tourism IX, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the local government through the Zamboanga City Tourism Office, the festival was a huge success. The festival was held in ZSCMST’s bird sanctuary in the Rio Hondo Village.

Zamboanga City Bird Festival - Exploring Great Sta Cruz Island Lagoon
Zamboanga City Bird Festival – Exploring Great Sta Cruz Island Lagoon

During my one on one informal interview with Mary June Bugante, I learned the idea behind the founding of the festival. According to Bugante, many endemic and migratory bird species have been recorded to inhabit the city during different time intervals throughout the year. The city is also the first ever documented breeding ground of the Great Egret in the country. The Great Egret is an elegantly white bird which can measure 3.3 feet tall and have a wingspan of almost 6 feet. This is why they decided to establish an event that will highlight such. (see Wikipedia)


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Wooden birdwatching viewdeck inside the campus
Wooden birdwatching viewdeck inside the campus

The Bird Festival aims to promote the city and to encourage bird-watching enthusiasts, and lovers of nature, to visit Zamboanga. The festival also goes beyond the goals of sole tourism. Bugante said that the festival also aims to persuade people to value environmental protection and conservation, while highlighting the importance of the city in the birding community. This is why the festival encourages anyone—students, especially—to come celebrate the festival.

Great egret birds inside the campus
Great egret birds inside the campus

The Bird Festival last year, according to Bugante, attracted a lot of people as well, including foreign bird-watching enthusiasts from Denmark, England, and France.

Purple Heron in Great Sta Cruz Lagoon
Purple Heron in Great Sta Cruz Lagoon

During the festival, we got to visit Sta. Cruz Island’s lagoon and pink beach. The perfectly sunny day was the perfect setting for watching the waves, the pinkish sands, and the freely flying birds from up above.

Bird symposium
Bird symposium

We also got to watch birds in the ZSCMST fishpond, located in the campus compound. Afterwards, we attended lectures and a symposium discussing the importance of preserving the ecosystem, the home of our colorful feathered- friends.

Students inside Photo Exhibit Hall
Students inside Photo Exhibit Hall

Not long after, we also visited photo exhibits, where beautiful still images of Zamboanga City’s birds during their flight and during their rest were displayed. Each photograph showcased different sets of birds, and different sets of colorful feathers and wings. Seeing the birds up close in the pictures made me appreciate our flying friends more. Birds are something we see almost every day that we fail to notice their importance. It’s a good thing Zamboanga City’s Bird Festival opened my eyes once again to the beautiful and colorful worlds of our feathered friends.

Vinta in Sta Cruz Island
Vinta in Sta Cruz Island

Many thanks to DOT IX Regional Director Mary June Bugante for inviting us to cover this event. Gracias!

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