Nueva Ecija: Environmental group Haribon Foundation will join the Gulayan Festival in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija – home of the Mt. Mingan protected sanctuary – for the first time to bring to attention the importance of protecting the critically endangered Philippine Eagle and helping to ensure a healthy biodiversity in Gabaldon and its vast fertile soil.
The Municipality of Gabaldon is celebrating the town’s sustained bountiful produce in its 6th annual harvest fest dubbed the Gulayan Festival from January 21 to 25.
Started in 2012, the good harvest festival exhibits the rich cultural traditions and natural resources of Gabaldon. Locals showcase the native produce of the town through colorful parade floats creatively decorated with vegetables such as eggplants, tomatoes and onions, as well as fruits and handcrafted ornaments.
In previous years, some local and foreign tourists flocked the venue as street dancing parties, talent showcase, trade exhibits and band parades were held.
Gabaldon is an agricultural town with more than 56 percent of its total land area devoted to farming purposes. Nueva Ecija is the largest province and the biggest rice producer in Central Luzon.
The festivities are a celebration of thanksgiving and prayers for a bountiful harvest in honor of the feast of Saint Paul the Apostle. Communities, students, local leaders, churches, government and non-government agencies partake in the fun-filled celebration.
Besides the showcase of native crops, some participants also bring awareness advocacies related to the environment and eco-friendly agricultural practices.
Gab-E and a good harvest
In 2014, Mount Mingan was declared a protected sanctuary after Haribon researchers confirmed in an expedition the discovery of an adult pair and a juvenile Philippine Eagle – the latter fondly named by the community as Gab-E (Gabaldon Eagle).
Birds provide an exciting window on nature. BirdLife International explains that because birds like the Philippine Eagle are incredibly sensitive to environmental changes and most are relatively easy to monitor, they can help identify a biodiversity crisis or how well a forest ecosystem is doing.
Biodiversity is essential to healthy ecosystems that ensure food security and sustain our livelihood. Farming provides the food we depend upon on a daily basis. Simply put, data about birds can help in the development of eco-friendly farming practices.
The protection of the Mingan Mountains where the Haring Ibon (King of Birds) dwells continues strong through the support of the municipalities of Gabaldon, Dingalan, and San Luis.
Unfortunately, the degradation of natural habitats that threaten endangered species such as Gab-E persists in many other regions.
Haribon’s Philippine Eagle Project is funded by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) under the Protected Area Management Enhancement (PAME) and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – EDGE program, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the municipality of Gabaldon and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
The participation of Gab-E in the Gulayan Fest also hopes to drumbeat Haribon’s bigger awareness campaign on the Philippine Eagle in June.
The Gulayan Festival is made possible by local governments, the Department of Education, barangays, churches, the police and other supporting organizations.
Kitty Amante/Haribon Foundation