For the third time, Balanga City bagged the award for Best Tourism Event – Festival, City Category earning for itself a place in the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines- Department of Tourism)’s ATOP-DOT’s Hall of Fame.
In an awarding ceremony held at Royce Hotel, Clark Air Base, Pampanga on October 6, ATOP recognized Balanga’s Ibong Dayo Festival. Mayor Francis S. Garcia received the Pearl Award with wife Raquel, City Administrator and OIC Tourism Officer Rodolfo De Mesa and city department heads.
Balanga’s Ibong Dayo Festival won over other cities’ tourism events.
In the past years, Balanga’s Ibong Dayo has been cited not only by the national government, but by other international bodies as well. International environmental groups have viewed Balanga’s Ibong Dayo Festival as a platform for nature conservation.
Every year during the cold season, migratory birds flock to Balanga’s wetlands. This phenomenon prompted the local government to launch the annual Ibong Dayo Festival.
Last year, Balanga’s wetland became a temporary home for 29,465 migratory birds. This record is an all-time high, and is attributed to Balanga’s undisturbed ecology.
Also, the city government subsumed last year’s Ibong Dayo celebration under the more popular and national Philippine Bird Festival. Several bird enthusiasts came to Balanga, especially bird photographers.
Safe Haven for Feathered Tourists
The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) facilitates the annual bird census in Balanga City. According to them, Balanga had its first peak in bird migration in 2013, where it recorded 25, 935 birds.
However, there was a massive increase in bird migration in 2015, primarily due to the fast-changing climate in the West.
There were at least two dominant migratory species in 2015, namely the egrets and the black-winged stilts. Yet, the WBCP spotted Chinese egrets on the coasts of Balanga. The said species is rare, and their migration here may strengthen the claim that Balanga’s ecosystem is improving.
Aside from organizing festivals, the city government further made developments at Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park so that migratory birds may have a temporary sanctuary. The birds are known to frequent the nature park as well as barangays Puerto Rivas and Sibacan. By Arli Joshua Atienza