PAL flies eagles with passports; MIAA assures NAIA project’s worthness

Philippine Airlines (PAL) yesterday flew two Philippine eagles from their sanctuary in Davao to Singapore, via Manila, as part of the first international Philippine Eagle Loan Agreement between the governments of the Philippines (through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and Singapore (through Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS).

According to PAL spokesperson Ma. Cielo Villaluna, the two eagles named ‘Geothermica’ and ‘Sambisig’ -- aged 15 and 17, respectively -- are being loaned to WRS to hopefully encourage breeding while at Singapore, specifically at the Jurong Bird Park, one of the zoological facilities managed by WRS.

Villaluna said the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) hopes that through the eagle loan program, the WRS can help secure a gene pool of the Philippine eagles for species conservation and as insurance against natural calamities that can wipe out the only captive Philippine Eagle population at the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) in Malagos, Davao City. The PEF manages the PEC where both Geothermica and Sambisig were hatched and reared.

The preserved gene pool can also be critical in preservation efforts in case of health epidemics like the avian flu. Many of PEF’s eagles at the bird sanctuary have corporate sponsors: ‘Geothermica’, a male, is sponsored by Energy Development Corporation while  ‘Sambisig’, a female, is sponsored by Dow Chemical Philippines. PAL is sponsor to another eagle named ‘Sinag’.

“Through the PAL Foundation, we are flying the loaned eagles to Singapore because we firmly believe in the eagle preservation advocacy of the PEF,” said PAL President and PEF Vice Chairman Jaime Bautista.

According to the PEF, Geothermica and Sambisig are at the prime age for breeding. They were previously paired with other eagles at the center but these attempts did not progress to natural pairing. Captive-bred eagles are said to be more resilient than those from the wild.

Meanwhile, the WRS, one of the world’s leading zoological institutions, has been supporting conservation efforts across Southeast Asia through wildlife research and awareness campaigns with over 50 wildlife conservation projects.

Villaluna said that while PAL has a long experience in flying animals, this is the first time that a critically endangered species is receiving special treatment. ‘Geothermica’ and ‘Sambisig’ flew on yesterday’s Davao-Manila (PR2808) and Manila-Singapore (PR507) PAL flights.

Mind you, they had passports that had two-year validity. Sambisig’s birth date is November 17, 2002 while Geothermica’s is January 7, 2004. Their stated birthplace -- Davao City and both had Filipino as nationality.

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Now that the renovation of the NAIA Terminal 2 is in full swing, passengers and airport workers will have to deal with some forms of inconvenience but  Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal assures these  will all be worth it once the works are done.

Since renovation works begun as early as in September last year, Monreal said the past few months have been difficult for passengers as they have to deal with smaller spaces to move around due to board ups in certain area.

In addition, the temperature inside the building is also affected due to air ducts within board up areas that cannot be used.

Monreal is deeply apologizing to the public for the inconvenience that the project is causing. And while he is seeking for more patience and understanding, Monreal says with certainty that once the renovation is completed, it will be worth all the trouble and discomfort.

The situation particularly poses challenges since it is business as usual at the NAIA Terminal 2 despite ongoing works.

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