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CANDABA WETLANDS NOW TOP TOURIST DESTINATION

By FRANCO G. REGALA
April 4, 2009, 3:15pm
Manila Bulletin

View of birdwatching site at Mayor Jerry Pelayo's resthouse in in Candaba Marsh
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 for residents.

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
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.