Sorry for the absence, it's been pretty crazy here at work. Projects came and went last week so there really wasn't any time left for blogging. So anyway, let me tell you guys how my Saturday turned out.
THE BFF's and I all went to Candaba, Pampanga for the Ibon-Ebun Festival. Trency texted us a week ago about the festivities, I think she wanted us to go cultural this time because the last time we all went out-of-town was to go beach bumming for my birthday and to follow our craving for bulalo.
We were supposed to go really early in the morning so we could see the street dancing and other celebrations for the festival. Unfortunately, Trency's midterm was pushed to Saturday at 11.30AM. Leaving us with no choice but to leave at around 1PM.
The trip was relatively easy, since I made sure we already had directions on how to get there. The only thing was that the roads were all just one lane on both directions. And since this was provincial Philippines, tricycles made the trip SLOWER. It was frustrating to drive, there was hardly any chance to overtake! So just a tip for those who plan on driving to Candaba, BE PREPARED FOR THIS! It can be a real test of patience.
Finding the Bird Sanctuary isn't hard, just follow the signs just like this one. Or don't be afraid to ask the locals. It's a popular place, so they know it very well.
When we got to the Bird Sanctuary, we were welcomed by tour guides who told us we were late for the festivities. Since it was late in the afternoon (it was 4PM when we got there) he wasn't sure if we'd be able to see the birds flying around the swamp. So we just took a chance and went for it. We paid P150 each for the tour and you get to use their binoculars.
Talking to our tour guide, Kuya John Joseph, we found out that the 72-hectare Bird Sanctuary is owned by Candaba's mayor, Jerry Pelayo. He said it used to be a fish farm, but when the birds started coming in, he transformed it into a sanctuary where bird enthusiasts can come and take a look at the birds. As of now, there are 56 different kinds of bird species that come to Candaba. He says that birds start coming in late November, and stay around until late February.
The Mayor is also very strict, no one can shoot birds and no one can capture birds to sell in Manila or to take home as pets. Kuya John Joseph told us there were people who captured birds stuffed them in cages and were already on their way to Manila. Fortunately they got caught and the birds were set free.
We started our walk around the 72-hectares. It was a nice walk since it wasn't too sunny and there was a constant light breeze. We stopped once in a while to take a look at the birds through our binoculars. Since we had puny cameras, we weren't able to take shots of the birds flying all over the swamp. But they were BEAUTIFUL!! It wasn't my first time to go bird watching, had a chance at Villa Escudero over at Tiaong, Quezon. And I must say, it takes a lot of patience, a lot of walking around, and super bionic eyes to spot the birds. To the untrained eye, the birds all looked the same.
Since we couldn't take pictures of the birds, I just took shots of us walking around and of the place. The swamp was actually beautiful and so full of life. It was a perfect day for bird watching AND PHOTOGRAPHY, so we were all very lucky!
Oh and by the way, you guys see those bamboo "walls"? Kuya John Joseph said that it used to enclose the whole area and photographers would set-up their equipment through those "windows". But typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, destroyed most of the walls. So when they were about to put the walls back up, someone suggested not to rebuild it because the birds might feel enclosed and trapped. The open space makes them feel more free to roam around the area.
At the end of an almost 2-hour walkathon around the swamp, we were able to see about 10 or so bird species. Some of the species we saw were a Kingfisher, Terns, Egrets, Common Moorhen, purple and gray Herons, Bitterns, and the very rare Black Bittern. It was so cool! :)
Try bird watching with your friends. I didn't really expect to enjoy it, but when you're with the BFFs...it's just so hard not to have fun while at it!
Here are directions to get to the Candaba Wetlands Bird Sanctuary:
1. Go to NLEX and exit at PULILAN. Just to remind you guys that the roads are narrow so be careful!
2. When you see a Jollibee and a Robinson's Supermarket, make a left at the intersection. That goes to Baliuag, Bulacan. You'll pass by SM City Baliuag.
3. Just go straight on that road, you'll see a flyover. Go UNDER the flyover and make a LEFT. Just go straight and after a while you see the arch that says PAMPANGA.
4. Just go straight towards Candaba, and watch out for BARANGAY BAGONG PARI. When you the a short bridge and a basketball court at the left side, turn RIGHT at the corner. It's right after that small bridge. Afterwards you'll start seeing the signs that will lead you to the Bird Sanctuary.
If getting lost, you may also contact John at 0917-4397650. The staff of the Bird Sanctuary are all very accommodating and super friendly, so do not hesitate to give them a call.