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Eyes on the Philippine eagle

By Pauline Songco,
Staff Writer

The Philippine eagle is one of the world’s rarest raptors and the largest among its kind in the world. Standing at three feet or roughly a meter tall with a wingspan of about seven feet, this magnificent avian has become the most sought-after subject of photographers in the country and the world.
While the creature has been featured in numerous local and international publications, there hasn’t been a single documentary done showcasing its magnificent life alone.
Taking on the challenge to be the first to do so, Alain Pascua, co-founder of the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines Inc. (WBPP) and concurrently Undersecretary of Education for Administration, recently launched Haring Ibon — The Great Philippine Eagle, a coffee-table book about an eagle’s breeding biology and early life history at its natural nesting site at Mount Apo Natural Park.
“This is the first book as far as we know that features the Philippine Eagle alone as a subject. It’s a comprehensive book that solely focuses on the Philippine eagle,” Pascua said in an interview.
The book, with a total of more than 230 pages, contains hundreds of photographs of the eagle, from the egg to the time of its first fledge. Pascua shared, “This book is not just a photo documentation. We raised the bar of the photos included — they would not just be mere documentary standards. They should approximate the appeasing level of art, para ‘yung appreciation ng makakabasa, ‘yung palang impact ng photos can already give the story and already raise awareness on why is it needed to be protected, why should they be conserved — not only the eagle, but also the forest.”
Compared to previous years, Pascua said the number of WBPP members who like to take photographs of the eagle has risen in numbers. “Nag-bloom yung membership because of the availability of the materials like cameras,” Pascua noted. Of course, he added, above all genuine love for nature and the natural widelife should be there.
“You should have tons of patience. It’s not easy to photograph birds. For one, your model is shy. You cannot command it; you cannot command the weather. You cannot even tell her or him to stay so that you can take your photograph. You should know the behavior of the animals and where they would go,” he explained.
For aspiring bird photographers, Pascua advised starting at La Mesa Eco Park. “There’s a mini forest there. If you want much number of birds, there’s also in Batanes. Candaba is also good, from January to March. But these are swamp birds, iba kasi kapag forest birds, mas colorful.”
Pascua hopes his book will find its way to libraries all over the country. “Sana ‘yung libro maging forerunner of other books. That our members, our organization or others would come up with documentations of natural history of the Philippines; birds, for example, or other endangered species. When it comes to materials on Philippine birds, kakaunti. We have 600 species in the wild here in the Philippines; 200 plus are endemic. Drive namin ay sana maka-inspire kami ng more photographers and writers to come up with similar books.”
The book, which is priced at P3,500, will be available at Amazon and Rex Bookstores. “Our primary market is the government. Because we want the book to be a gift of whoever will be the giver. It’s a national symbol. It will be good for foreign affairs, tourism or others to give it as a token because it symbolizes the country,” Pascua hoped.

For more information on Haring Ibon — The Great Philippine Eagle, log on to www.haringibon.com or contact the author, Alain Pascua at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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