Philippine Eagle Statue Erected in Barlig; Sparks hope for conservation

A breathtaking view of the forests of Barlig from the Eagle’s Viewpoint.//Photo by Daniel Maches

Traversing the long and winding road amidst panoramic mountains views and lush forests, one reaches a dramatic ridge with a noticeable landmark – a huge statue of the Philippine Eagle!

Erected on the boundary of barangay Lias Silangan and barangay Chupac, both in Barlig, the said statue stands at an elevation of more than 1800 meters above sea level.

It’s just a few meters away from the national highway and from here, one can view the tropical rainforests of both barangays including the distant mountains of Kalinga and Ifugao. These forests are some of the few remaining primeval forests in the Philippines as most old-growth forests disappeared due to logging, mining, and commercial agriculture.

The eagle statue, therefore, acts as a beacon of hope for the conservation of Barlig’s rainforests and a testimony of the indigenous peoples’ (IPs) commitment to living in harmony with nature.

A Project Long Overdue

The eagle seemingly looking at the dense forests around.//Photo by Brenda Fiangrayan

The construction of the eagle statue started several years ago but since then has been left unfinished for lack of funding. It’s only now that the new proponents added the head and wings to the structure, giving its present view. It would take another project and funding to complete the eagle’s design.

Although it’s not yet complete, some locals and passersby have started taking pictures and promoting the place on social media. It has become a popular attraction in town not only because of its imposing view but also the stunning sceneries around it. More than a recognizable landmark, the structure brims with cultural and historical value.

A Beacon of Hope for Conserving Barlig’s Forests

Like a Mother Eagle protecting her territory.//Photo by Rian Cael

What a lot of people don’t know is that the eagle viewpoint is not just a sightseeing spot. It’s also a symbol of forest conservation and wildlife preservation as it is here where a juvenile of a captured eagle was released in 2005 through the initiative of the late Romeo Cofin, former barangay captain of Lias Silangan. Cofin also proved the existence of the Philippine Monkey-Eagle, locally known as Lawi, when he submitted sample feathers and bone fragments to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The confirmation broke the notion that Philippine Eagles are only found in Mindanao. According to Cofin, around 50 eagles were previously hunted leading to zero sightings at present. Some locals, however, share that they sometimes hear eagles chirping at nighttime. This can indicate that some are still alive and thus, call for urgency to document and protect them before they go extinct.

Locals from Lias led by former barangay captain Romeo Cofin convene at the eagle viewpoint to release juvenile hawk eagles.//Photo from Mah Ay Cofin
Philippine hawk eagles in captivity before they were released in Tapaw or Eagle Viewpoint.//Photo by Mah Ay Cofin

In the entire country, there are less than 400 pairs of this critically endangered species left in the wild, most of which are in Mindanao. Protecting the eagles in Barlig can, therefore, play a significant role in this national conservation effort.

Sparking Hope for the Future

The almost complete eagle statue is hoped to revitalize efforts in Barlig to sustainably manage the forests not only to continuously benefit the people but also provide refuge to endangered species. It is important to highlight that the sustainability of our forests also means the sustainability of our economy and future. To make that possible, we go back to our inherent values as indigenous peoples, primarily, the viewpoint that the forest is life.

A high-angle view of the Eagle Statue.//Photo by Rian Cael

May this historical and cultural landmark not only serve as a come-on for picture taking but a tangible gift that calls for conservation initiatives. Hopefully, the local government units of Barlig will develop programs and policies to protect the Lawi. It is our pride after all.

The Philippine eagles are just like us, striving to survive in a harsh and ever-changing world. Our actions today will define whether their existence persists or not. And so does our culture and identity in the face of modernization and global assimilation.

NOTE: THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY. SHOULD YOU WISH TO ADD INFORMATION OR CORRECT SOME, DO COMMENT BELOW.

4 Comments

  1. How I wish there are other youth like you with a mindset of environmental protection and preservation of our wild forests/mountains, and thier wildlife. Gid Bless your advocy.

    I would suggest that you initiate a fund raising intended for your purpose.let us all help and preserve our natural environment,mountains,wild life and our cultural heritage.

    • Daniel Maches

      Thank you so much sir for such heartfelt remarks. Yes, we need more of our youths to participate in this global campaign to care for our planet and our people.

  2. Dave De Vera

    Nicely written! It would be good if the area can be mapped, documented and registered as an Indigenous CommunitY Conservation Area (ICCA) with the UN, and declared as a Traditional Conservation Area. Similar to a Park and Protected Area. the only difference is that the area is managed by the Local Community using traditional rules of governance. A Community Conservation Plan shall also be formulated by the people. The icing of the cake would be an Municipal Ordinance declaring the Traditional Conservation Status of the area and its incorporation in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Barlig!

    • Daniel Maches

      Love that proposal sir. I think that is what’s urgently needed in Barlig, Mt Province and to make that happen, we need to capacitate the locals including the LGUs on the importance of conserving our eagles and forests. We need expertise from practicing conservationists and passionate advocates to instill awareness and appreciation.

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