IT is always an amazing sight to witness birds flying in the sky. Although most people take this for granted, the ability to fly and to travel freely is a dream most people share. And although rocket ships and airplanes have made this possible, there is nothing more wonderful than seeing such friendly Aves, specifically migratory birds, as true travellers among the earth’s diverse species.
Billions of migratory birds travel the globe every year, with each flying at a distance of 11,000 kilometers or 6,385 miles in just eight days. This incredible feat is something that Haribon Foundation continues to celebrate, especially as many of these birds visit the Philippines as well.
To celebrate their importance as travellers of the sky, Haribon Foundation recently hosted the “Welcome to the Birds” Bird Kite Festival on October 25 at the Burnham Green, Rizal Park in Manila.
Visitors were allowed to “fly” through their individually built and creatively designed kites. Events such as the Bird Kite Festival help to boost awareness of people on the migratory birds’ importance to the ecosystem. As species who depend on the environment for survival, birds serve as an indicator of the true condition of the environment. Not only should they be seen as amazing species, but should also be considered crucial to environment conservation.
They are predominantly found in wetland areas, which are now transformed to industrial and residential areas. The survival of migratory birds is greatly dependent on the health of these destinations, and the presence—or absence—of these birds help indicate the health of a given ecosystem.
Scientific observations have shown that the numbers of migratory birds are fast dwindling each year. Although other causes such as hunting contribute to the migratory birds’ significant decrease, the fact is that various ecosystems in the Philippines are deteriorating and dying.
As I went around talking to the organizers as well as researchers who conduct site visits (visits to places like forest, mountains, wetlands, and more), I have gained more insight and learned important things that the public should realize.
One important thing that must be done is to plant trees that are native to the area’s ecosystem. The Crested Tern, a rare migratory bird, has not been seen in the Philippines for years as the country’s ecological sites are converted to cemented landscapes.
Although there are still many things to learn, particularly on the different kind of trees, birds and fish native to the Philippines, I found that natural conditions of the environment should be preserved as conducive habitat for species such as migratory birds.
People living in the mountain and forest communities have lives that are very different from city-dwellers—they live simply, they get their food provided by the environment, and they only get enough resources to nourish themselves. The rest are left to the birds and other animals that they share their home with. They let fruits and leaves fall to the ground, allowing nature do its magic to enrich the soil and sprout new and healthy shoots.
Such communities use natural ways of making and creating things to meet their basic needs. I even know of some who use a tree sap for their lighting needs, or to make their own vinegar. They also make conscious efforts to limit their non-biodegradable waste to a minimum or none at all.
I also learned that there are still many people who do not compost at home. And I am glad that I was given the opportunity to share what I know about Bokashi Composting—a method that uses a mix of microorganisms to cover food waste to decrease smell. A practice coming from Japanese farmers who centuries ago, would cover food waste with rich, local soil containing microorganisms, that would ferment the waste. After a few weeks, they would bury the waste, and some weeks later would turn to soil. (Wikipedia)
The Haribon team provided me with facts and information about the true condition of our ecosystem. It has become my guide in my pursuit for environment conservation. It has been a place for me to meet like-minded people who understand that our planet is in danger and who believe that it is time to act. Most of all, it has been an avenue for me to share what I know about proper waste management and encourage others to do so likewise.
I invite you to come and make Haribon your second home.
For details on how to become a Haribon member, please call +63 2 421-1209.