Former hunter finds calling in nature photography
Tracing gray memories of his childhood, Honesto Limuaco Jr., one of the newest members of Haribon Foundation, shares his piece of irony in life—that he was once one of those who destroyed nature, before becoming its protector.
It all started when the young Limuaco would play with real guns instead of toys.
“When I was in grade 4, my dad bought me my own gun. Then I’d shoot a bird whenever I see one,” Limuaco revealed.
Enjoying the thrill and encouraged by his father’s own likeness for hunting, Limuaco has gotten used to tagging along his dad’s hunting group. They would travel to different mountains and forests to hunt for birds, as well as sailfin lizards, monkeys, deers, and wild boars. Whatever they saw, they shot bullets through, just for the thrill of the kill.
“Killing was like practicing target-shooting. I just kill. I was not concerned,” he said adding that they would eventually eat bird meat to go with their choice of liquor.
It was only in 2001 when Republic Act Number 9147, or Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, was signed that the rampant hunting in the Philippines saw the end of the day.
But for Limuaco, he need not need the act to be signed to have a change of heart—all it took was another hobby to occupy him
“I got fond of mountain climbing every Holy Week. That is when I saw the beauty of our nature’s forests, and birds,” Limuaco reminisced. He was then 14.
The experience was a turning point that eventually guided him into ending it. “I was glad to see these birds and hear them chirping for the first time. Then, I can could see them take flight and even have eye contact with them,” he said with a smile.
Finally, in his late teens, he was finally able to make a strong and firm decision—to not hunt anymore. “I said to myself that I don’t want to anymore, so I sold my gun. I really don’t want to hunt again.”
As he completely locked away the smell of gunpowder and the sound of firing bullets, his love for wildlife grew and brought him back to shooting but this time through his camera.
It was in 2002 that he decided to pursue photography.
Since he lived near the foot of the mountain, he was always surrounded by the wild, and one day he thought that he needed to have a camera to savor all of these. After buying one for his own and securing photography books for reference, Limuaco found himself clicking his shutter non-stop. Insects, birds, and plants—he would take photos of them all.
His love for nature photography did not go unnoticed to his friends who soon teased him why he refused to take their pictures.
“I answered them, ‘Wherever you look, you will see people everywhere, but these things [wildlife]are rare’,” he shared.
As someone who abandoned the life of a hunter, Limuaco has a realization he couldn’t help but uttering, “One day, all of these might just only be stories and they their appearance on books would be the only proof that they existed here in the Philippines. It’s sad to think of that because as I grew up and saw these. Sometimes, I asked myself, ‘What if these would be gone and my children would not be able to see them?’”
Propelled with the scary thought, Limuaco finally fulfilled his long-time goal. So, when he came home after working overseas, he need not think twice, he signed up to be a Haribon member.
“I’ve always wanted to be a member of Haribon, but I was overseas for 15 years, I wasn’t able to give it time,” he finally said.
Now that he’s a certified member, Limuaco vowed to help protect the nature he now treasures.
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Bea Kirstein T. Manalaysay is a 3rd year BA in Communication student in Far Eastern University (FEU) and editor in chief of Advocate, FEU’s campus paper. She is currently Haribon’s intern in the Communications & Information Department.
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