ALABEL, Sarangani (March 11, 2023) - The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), for the first time ever, brought Wildlife is Here (WIH) outside Davao Region to Sarangani Province, to further raise public awareness on the protection and conservation of Sarangani’s biodiversity.
WIH is a conservation education and public awareness (CEPA) campaign brand that highlights the unique wildlife and habitats of Mindanao.
For the last five years, each WIH celebration was focused on the wildlife of the Davao Region. This year, it featured the rich biodiversity of Sarangani Province and the partnerships to conserve and restore its green and blue habitats.
With this year’s theme “Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation,” WIH provided the opportunity to highlight various partnerships that are making significant contributions to the sustainability of biodiversity and wildlife.
PEF’s Director for Research and Conservation Jayson Ibañez said the goal of WIH “is basically to tell all residents of Sarangani that the province is precious because it has a wealth of biodiversity that every resident of the province should be proud of.”
During the week-long celebration of WIH which ran on March 3-9, various displays of animal and plant species found in Mt. Busa and Sarangani Bay were exhibited at SM City Gensan. Several presentations, expert talks, and community immersions were also done during the duration of the celebration.
Ibañez hopes that these efforts “will inspire people to think of Sarangani not only as a home for their families but also for their non-human neighbors.”
The Philippine Eagle, known for being the icon in conserving Sarangani’s terrestrial fauna; the Dugong also known as the “Gentle Giant” of Sarangani Bay; and the Pawikan or marine turtle that helps maintain the health of seagrass beds and coral reefs, are just some of the many unique animal species found in Sarangani.
The province is also home to rich flora species including several special orchid species, the endemic red lauan, and various families of ferns.
“We are in an age where we really should take care of nature because if we do that, nature will also take care of us,” Ibañez said.
He commended the partnerships established with the Local Government Unit of Sarangani headed by Governor Rogelio D. Pacquiao, the academe, the stakeholders, and the private sector.
“With LGU Sarangani, we have been working with them for the past two decades. We have rescued and released Philippine Eagles together, we did joint expeditions together, and they have funded community-based projects and education campaigns,” Ibañez said.
Presently, a total of three Philippine Eagles have already been rescued and released together by the PEF, the PLGU-Sarangani, the MLGUs, and other partner stakeholders. They were named Sarangani Pride, Sarangani Eagle (previously named Salagbanog), and Maasim Pride.
For the private sector partners, Ibañez lauded Sarangani Energy Corporation, Siguil Hydro Power Corporation, and Alsons Power Group for setting an example that “the corporate sector also has a heart for conservation as it is not only part of their social responsibility but of their operations as well.”
“As an energy-generating company, having healthy watersheds, having healthy forests, also means that their business is sustainable. They also demonstrated that by investing in conservation, they are helping people by providing them livelihoods especially in the uplands among the IPs, while also benefitting our non-human counterparts in the mountains,” Ibañez said.
Meanwhile, in the academe, Mindanao State University-General Santos City was considered the “strong ally” of the government in “building awareness to the students on how resources will be used in the near future,” he added.
After a series of lectures by wildlife experts and workshops conducted, Provincial Information Officer Joana Grace Lapore now posed a challenge to the students and the rest of the members of the community.
"With the lots of data and information that we are loaded with, what should we do on what we know? Because the manifestation of the power of information is to act on what we know," Lapore said.
Ibañez calls for the general public “to become better persons of the planet through extending sympathy and empathy to the surrounding biodiversity.”
“Animals are innocent, plants are innocent. They don’t know the harm that people can bring them, and so it’s our moral responsibility to take care of them because it’s also for our own betterment,” he said.
“We should not forget that the fundamental principle why we are alive is because there’s an environment, there’s a biodiversity which provides the resources that we need,” Ibañez concluded.
“Wildlife is Here. It is here to stay. It is here to thrive.” (Jori Mae R. Samillano/SARANGANI PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE)
Photos by Jake Narte and Mosler Paul Lapore