By FRANCO G. REGALA
April 4, 2009, 3:15pm
View of birdwatching site at Mayor Jerry Pelayo's
resthouse in in Candaba Marsh
The wetlands of Candaba in the province of
Pampanga have become top tourist destination – because
of the many species of migratory birds that are continuously
passing through the town, some coming from other Asian countries.
The Candaba swamps used to be the bane of
farmers and residents, because of the year-long floods and
rising water levels. Candaba folk have learned to live with
it, and now have the migratory birds to thank for.
Because of the birds, the Candaba wetlands
have become an important destination for tourists and environmentalists
who enjoy bird watching and communing with nature. With the
boom in local tourism, come town revenues and job opportunities
Environmentalists and experts were the first
to discover the migratory birds passing through the swamps
and flocking in the wetlands, escaping from the cold in China
and Taiwan, and on their way south to Cebu and Mindanao, and
probably Indonesia and Australia.
Unveiling the Wetlands of Candaba marker
at the Total gas
station: (L-R) front row - Amy Lecciones of the Philippine
Wetland Society, Senator Loren Legarda, Atty Roger
Quevedo, back-row - Pampanaga Gov Ed Panlilio,
Congressman Dong Gonzales, Mike Lu
Today, April 5, the “Wetlands of Candaba,”
the country’s first wetlands information center for
wetlands conservation and wildlife protection, will be launched
at the TOTAL North Gas Complex, North Luzon Expressway, in
Apalit, Pampanga, right after the Candaba Viaduct.
This was announced by Abigail Tomas of G-Star
and Ventures and Development Corporation.
Among the guests are Senators Loren Legarda
and Bong Revilla Jr., along with Environment and Natural Resources
Secretary Lito Atienza. They will be welcomed by Roger Quevedo,
G-Star Ventures President, Dr. Candido Cabrido Jr., SCPD president
and Mike Lu, WBCP president.
Tomas said this project by G-Star Ventures
and Development Corporation, is in partnership with the Society
for the Conservation of the Philippine Wetlands, Inc. (SCPD)
and the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP).
G-Star Ventures hosts TOTAL Gas Station,
Bonjour convenience store, popular fast food restaurants,
and clean restrooms for the convenience of northbound motorists.
Just located after the Candaba Viaduct, this property also
serves as a refuge for some of the country’s migratory,
endemic, and local birds.
The area sits at the edge of the Candaba
Swamp, 300 hectare complex of freshwater ponds, swamps and
marshes that serve as a bird sanctuary. TOTAL Gas Complex
provides a glimpse of the protected area, Tomas said.
Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo is among the first
officials advocating for wildlife conservation and bird watching
especially in Candaba. He convinced then Press Secretary Ignacio
Bunye to give it a try.
Migratory birds fly down south from September
to December every year to escape the harsh winter in China,
Siberia, Alaska and other places. These migratory species
fly thousands of miles every day to seek shelter and one of
their destinations is the Philippines.
After the Candaba wetlands, their next stop
is Cebu. Migratory birds are monitored passing by Olango Island,
in Lapu-Lapu City.
Atienza said the migratory birds are known
to feed in Candaba Swamps in Pampanga, Iloilo, Bicol, Ormoc
Bay and in Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao.