DENR holds "refill revolution" to save historic Manila Bay

More than 500 residents of the City of San Fernando in Pampanga together with government employees celebrated and joined the annual Manila Bay day in a "Refill Revolution" event to promote the economical way of reusing and recycling plastic materials and to save the historic Manila Bay from plastic pollution.

Paquito Moreno, Jr., executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here, stressed that the problem of plastic pollution is becoming worse every day, negatively affecting the natural environment and harming plants, wildlife and even the entire human population.

“We have to wage war on plastic. We need to fight plastic pollution and end it once and for all before it’s too late,” Moreno said, adding that the Refill Revolution is one of DENR’s solutions to fight the global problem of plastic.

Citing statistics, Moreno said that last year’s coastal cleanup around the globe reveals that plastic bottles are the second most item collected with more than 1.5 million bottles collected in a single cleanup day. These were collected in the oceans and along the beach while there are also 3 million plastic bottle caps, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, straw, stirrers, and other plastic bags, he added.

"Now, what is in common with these items? They are made of plastic," he stressed.

This refilling event, Moreno noted, is an advocacy to cut back on plastic production, consumption, and packaging.

Meanwhile, Lormelyn Claudio, regional director of DENR- Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said the series of refilling event, which is now on its fourth leg, the first three of which transpired in Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan provinces, aimed to spark behavioral change on turning wastes as new resources.

“We need to change our attitude to resolve plastic pollution. Our lifestyle and behavior play a crucial role in solving this problem,” Claudio added.

Local residents, who participated in the event organized by EMB and DENR-3 Manila Bay Coordinating Office, were able to refill their clean and reusable bottles, containers and eco bags with condiments, toiletries, and other household essentials for half of their actual retail prices in supermarkets.

Participating companies include HAHSY Industries Inc., Froneri (formerly Nestle), Soliman EC, and Jollibee Foods Corp.

It will be recalled that the Supreme Court issued a writ of continuing mandamus on December 18, 2008, to 14 government agencies including the DENR in the clean up of Manila Bay recognizing the right of every Filipino citizen to a balanced and healthful ecology.

Manila Bay day is celebrated every 18th day of December of each year to raise public awareness and call to action on the importance and protection of Manila Bay.

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June 4 to 10 of every year is Philippine Eagle Week

AGAWID: THE UNTOLD STORY

Sighting for the birds of prey

For decade wildlife experts and biologists of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Luzon have been monitoring the vast and diverse mountain ranges of Sierra Madre in the portion of Nueva Ecija and Aurora to confirm the presence of Philippine Eagle. Wildlife officers have been tracking down this birds of prey and were unfortunate to confirm its existence in the area.

In 2000, local communities have observed this raptor flying in the clear sky, probably hunting for its food. But they are unsure of its true identity. However, this sighting further gave hope to conservationists to continue its quest in probing the existence of Philippine eagle in the mountain ranges of Sierra Madre.

According to literature, Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is the world's largest eagle. Sadly, it is also one of the endangered species in the country. Standing at three feet tall and with a wingspan of seven feet, it is no doubt that the Philippine eagle is truly king among the great birds of prey.

The Philippine eagle can live to between 30 and 60 years of age. It feeds mainly on flying lemurs, palm civets and monkeys, hence the alternative common name of 'monkey-eating eagle'. Other prey items include rats, snakes, flying squirrels, birds and bats.

This species is endemic to the Philippines and found on parts of the larger islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao

A rescued raptor

Hope never fails. Sometime on June 2016, an upland farmer found a juvenile eagle trapped in a snare or “silo” that was used in catching monkey inside the Aurora Memorial National Park (AMNP). The wildlife sustained no serious injuries in the ordeal.

The raptor was immediately turned-over to the DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) based in Dingalan and was transferred to the custody of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) where it was cared for until its release into the wild. It was estimated that the eagle is just three years old.

The bird’s existence finally confirmed the presence of this critically endangered species in the Sierra Madre mountain range, a truly pride of Central Luzon.

Life in captivity

Agawid was placed in custody at the DENR Wildlife Rescue Center in Quezon City where the young eagle undergoes treatment and care. Agawid was placed in an eagle dome cage to prevent any human interaction. It was 17 months in captivity.

On May 2017, Agawid was transferred to a hack cage and brought back to a forest area in the national park of Aurora. The eagle undergoes a six month hacking process to ensure his survival and adaptive capacity in the wild.

Return to the wild

After more than a year of captivity, the young female Philippine eagle was released into the wild on October 4, 2017 in the forests area of AMNP. The released was historic and symbolic as it coincides with the confirmation of Secretary Roy. A Cimatu.

The spectacular eagle weighs approximately 5.31 kilograms just before its release. The eagle was named “Agawid,” an Ilocano word meaning “go home”. The eagle was able to return successfully to its natural habitat. It has been fitted with harnessed with radio transmitter to help DENR authorities monitor the eagle’s activities.

On April 2018, DENR Aurora and BMB conducted a re-trapping and monitoring of the young Agawid to check its health condition.

Today, Agawid is learning to hunt and survive in the wild. There are times that the young eagle return back to the community to hunt pets and other domesticated animal as an easy prey.

Portion of AMNP along the highway in Barangay Villa Maria in Maria Aurora town has been a favorite spot for many tourists as they enjoy a closer look of Agawid alights in the tree tops of tall dipterocarp trees in search for prey.

Agawid is being closely monitored to protect against illegal hunters and poachers. The eagle is a true symbol of the Filipino and crown jewel of Philippine biodiversity.

Let us protect Agawid and its habitat.

It is our country’s national bird, a beacon of hope and barometer of our ecosystem.

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