It’s definitely MORE fun in the Philippines!

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. has been quoted as saying, ”What differentiates the Philippines from every other place in the world… is the Filipino. It’s his special gift for transforming what is already a beautiful place into an unforgettable special place.”

“You take two identical islands, put FILIPINOS in one, and it’s going to be more fun in there where they are!”

High five to that.

Well, here are my initial takes to the new DOT tourism slogan which has triggered an avalanche of memes in the internet…

Communing with nature at Hagimit Falls, Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS), Davao del Norte

Taking care of Lola at the airport, Tacloban City, Leyte

Fishing at the rock formations, Biri Islands, Northern Samar

Power napping at San Pedro Island, Hinunangan, Southern Leyte

Tacloban Port Area, Tacloban City, Leyte

Tacloban City, Leyte

Kalanggaman Island, Palompon, Leyte

Birdwatching at Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), Paranas, Samar

Zip Southern Leyte – the longest (1km) zipline ride over the tallest bridge in the country today, Agas-Agas Bridge in Sogod, Southern Leyte

Stargazing at Kalanggaman Island, Palompon, Leyte

Calle Mena Crisologo in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur – dubbed as the Heritage Lane

Tubing at Ulot Rapids Torpedo Boat Adventure, Ulot River, Paranas, Samar

Bitukang Manok, Atimonan Natural Forest Park, Atimonan, Quezon

The music scene at 6500, Tacloban City

Calayucay, Sto. Domingo, Albay

 

 

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The Ulot River Torpedo Boat Adventure experience at Paranas, Samar – the longest river in the entire Samar island crossing all 3 provinces, Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar.

The Torpedo Boat Adventure route, however, only traverses 11.5 kilometers of this lengthy river (23 kms back and forth) and takes about an hour downstream, and over an hour upstream back to the jump-off point.

The jump-off point is located near the HQ of the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) in Paranas, Samar along the Buray-Borongan highway.

Getting there: It’s about 1.5 hours drive from Tacloban City to the jump off point. From Tacloban City, head on to Catbalogan, Samar via the Maharlika Highway. Upon reaching the Buray junction (this is before Catbalogan), turn right headed for Borongan. SINP HQ is 16 kilometers from the Buray junction.

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Much to my surprise, I was more than delighted with the number of “likes” my post on “Birding Fun in Samar (Part I)” generated at Facebook. It was much higher than I expected and more than my usual, average figures. It only goes to show how many still admire these fascinating flying wonders rarely seen in the metropolis, much less photographed.

So here’s Part II of the birding fun we had last February 24 & 25 at the Samar Island Natural park (SINP) at Paranas, Samar:

7.) The Purple-throated Sunbird (Nectarinia sperata or Leptocoma sperata), also known as Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, is a species of bird in the Nectariniidae family. It is found in Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical mangrove forests.

These tiny birds (about 2-3 inches tall) are really active and colorful, especially the male which has an iridescent plumage, emerald green head, dark violet wing feathers and crimson breast and the shiny purple throat which gives it its name.

8.) (Below, left) A Red-keeled Flowerpecker (Dicaeum australe) – a species of bird in the Dicaeidae family. It is endemic to the Philippines.

(Right) A female Purple-throated Sunbird (Nectarinia sperata)

[Source: Wikipedia]

9.) The Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis), also known as the Yellow-bellied Sunbird, is a species of sunbird found from Southern Asian to Australia.

The sunbirds are a group of very small Old World passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Their flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering, but usually perch to feed most of the time.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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We went on a birding sortie recently at the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) in Paranas, Samar – site of the country’s few remaining primary and secondary forests today.

It was my 3rd time to be there in recent months in what always turns out to be a most enjoyable nature-trip sojourn.

The first time we went there was to experience for ourselves the Ulot River Rapids Torpedo Boat Adventure (fun!) The second time was to sample Samar’s enormous avian wealth, together with experienced birders (such as the Dutch Ambassador – an avid birder).

I have to confess I am a complete newbie in this department. Birding or bird photography is a pastime which only a few can indulge in. It’s because it entails getting expensive long camera lenses and other equipment; having the needed patience and the luxury of time to travel, the physical stamina to endure hiking/trekking into the wilderness, and the willingness to update one’s stock knowledge and learn more about the avian world.

Hence, please bear with me; my Canon 70-200mm (even with a 1.4X extender) can barely reach for a medium shot of a bird perched on a tree 20 meters away. I need to really creep slowly and get real close to them to be able to get fairly decent shots of these fascinating flying wonders.

The ultimate satisfaction one gets in bird photography is when you’re able to get a perfect, close-up shot of a rare or hard-to-find bird.  The ensuing natural high one gets is beyond words. Definitely more than just WOW!

Here are some of the birds we saw at SINP in the heartland of Samar, last February 24 & 25, 2011.

1.) An Everett’s White-eye (Zosterops everetti), one of several comprising a merry barkada of tiny birds barely 3 inches in size. They fly and eat in groups quickly descending on berry-bearing trees boisterously and then just as quickly fly away.

Source: Wikipedia

2.) The Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops superciliosus/philippinus)

This is a bird which breeds in sub-tropical open country, such as farmland, parks or ricefields. Like other bee-eaters it predominantly eats insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets.

They look out for suitable prey from a tree branch or high wire (about 7m and above) then swoop down onto it and snap up their victims. To get rid of the sting, the insect is vigorously whacked against the perch or simply squeezed to get rid of the venom.

Source: Wikipedia & Sungei Buloh

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