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 The king of Philippine birds gets its share of the limelight as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) celebrates Philippine Eagle Week this June 4-10.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje announced that the agency’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) has lined up several activities that extend up to the end of the month to further bring into the Filipinos’ – and the rest of the world’s – consciousness the importance of the Philippine Eagle, once hailed by famous American aviator Charles Lindbergh as “the world’s noblest flier.”

The annual celebration, which is now on its 14th year, aims to “instill in everyone’s minds that the Philippine Eagle is a national heritage and an indicator of how well we are doing with our conservation efforts,” said Paje.

Celebrations will kick off at 8:00 AM on Monday, June 4, at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC), with a storytelling session for the public, entitled “Fly Malaya Fly”. The Haribon Foundation will also showcase its “Harivan”, a mobile infovan containing various informative materials including videos, CDs and brochures on the Philippine Eagle. A live Philippine Eagle named “Girlie” can currently be found in one of the large aviaries inside the NAPWC.

PAWB Director Theresa Mundita Lim said that the PAWB will post an assortment of tarpaulins and posters in strategic areas around Metro Manila such as along EDSA. Students in schools will also be treated to conservation education campaigns as the school year officially opens over the next two weeks.

An informative commercial, known as “infomercial”, is also scheduled to be aired over TV network ABS-CBN starting June 8, during its TV Patrol news program.

Two memoranda of agreement (MOAs) are also to be forged to strengthen alliances towards the conservation of the Philippine Eagle. The first would be between the DENR and the University of the Philippines in Diliman over a collaborative project entitled, “Ensuring the Survival of the Philippine Eagle: Reintroduction of the Philippine Eagle in Leyte.” The second would be with the Energy Development Corporation, as part of the DENR-PAWB’s ongoing “Adopt a Wildlife Species” project.

As part of its advocacy program known as “Caring for the People to Care for the Environment”, the PAWB’s Philippine Raptors Conservation Program, will also conduct an education campaign coupled with a medical and dental mission in selected barangays of Eastern Samar by the end of June.

Paje stressed that Philippine Eagle has been considered “critically endangered” under the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 1969 due to its precarious population, currently estimated at 500 mature individuals. Efforts undertaken by both government and the private sector to conserve and propagate the Philippine Eagle have been “an uphill climb” due to constant threats of hunting, habitat destruction and pollution.

He added that this year’s theme, “Lipad Agila… Sulong Pinoy” fittingly likened the country’s national bird and leading environmental icon to the Filipino people. “The theme very much describes our conservation efforts for the Eagle despite the threats, which we are bent on reducing if not totally eliminating. We have measured success in captive breeding and in releasing mature eagles to the wild. The theme, in a way, also reflects the tenacity and resilience of the Filipino people in overcoming odds and soaring high amid adversaries,” he explained.

The Philippine Eagle is considered as the tallest and with the largest wing surface area among all eagles in the world. It ranks second only to the Harpy eagle in weight. “Haring Ibon,” as the Philippine Eagle is fondly called, can mostly be found in Mindanao, with sightings in Samar and Leyte in the Visayas, as well as in the Cordillera and Sierra Madre mountain ranges in Luzon.