Philippines trip

To: "'birding-aus'" <>
Subject: Philippines trip
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2015 10:28:26 +1100
Yes terrible for Carlito and yet another problem for the area but put into
context as to why this would happen and why the army are so sensitive and
could make mistakes: 

I was there from 14 January till 3 February.

On 25 January many police and soldiers were sent to arrest a known Islamic
terrorist in Mindanao. Somehow the operation was either astonishingly
bungled or corruptly sabotaged at a high level. 44 police officers were
somehow ambushed and all murdered by a quite sophisticated "terrorist"
group. Anyway the country is really shocked by this. When the bodies were
returned, the President chose to go to a prior event of the opening of a new
car factory, rather than change his arrangements to attend this event. This
insensitivity seems to have caused quite some outrage. He did attend a later
commemoration. See e.g.
-botched-anti-terror-raid/6055900 and
illed-in-clash-with-rebels/6046870 The situation there is complex. This was
only a few days after the country obsessed over the visit by the pope. 

I could possibly had gone to Mindanao, I had seriously considered it. As it
has some great birding opportunities and in particular the Philippine Eagle
centre there, at the time of this botched military angle. I was very glad I
didn't. Would be too much risk and too expensive. I had received conflicting
advice of the safety of going to Mindanao. My friend there was constantly
fearful of me wandering around with my binoculars and would I be in danger
from being ambushed, robbed or taken hostage. Nothing bad did happen to me.
We are lucky in Australia to hardly have these fears. 

Instead I went with my friend to Palawan island and that is a very pretty
and peaceful place, most people are very nice and helpful...... The big risk
there (as in all of the Philippines), surviving being on the road, then
being approached by lots of poor people trying to sell trinkets and avoiding
the monkeys....... 

The only Philippine Eagle I got to see was the one in Manila, in the Aquino
zoo. Poor bird has been there for 19 years but looks in excellent condition
what an impressive bird. In two trips of 3 weeks, I found only very few wild
raptors (though lots in zoos). 


-----Original Message-----
From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of
Julie Neumann
Sent: Monday, 23 February 2015 6:04 AM
To: Richard Johnstone
Subject: Philippines trip

Wow Richard! 
What a hair raising experience. Nice to know that you all carried on to
Palawan with true twitching courage.  Interesting to hear that you were able
to debrief with others who had shared the same experience, implying that it
is not so rare. I feel very sorry for Carlito but have no desire to go
looking for that lovely critically endangered Philippine Eagle. Julie  

On 22/02/2015, at 9:44 PM, Richard Johnstone wrote:

> Hi all.
> I returned home yesterday from a Philippines birding trip. This was
> very successful in regard to the birds we saw, however in Mindanao we 
> encountered a problem in a supposedly safe area in the north of the 
> island, on Mt Kitanglad. It appears that the army mistook our party 
> for a group of NPA guerrillas that they were pursuing through the 
> mountain forest. The article in the attached url gives an outline of 
> what occurred.
> itish-
> birdwatchers-caught-up-in-Philippines-gun-battle.html
> Our party was comprised of 3 Danish birders, 2 British and a British
> guide, myself plus our local guide and one of his sons.
> The local guide Carlito was severely wounded when he was shot in the
> left arm , not right arm as it states in the article, he has undergone 
> surgery in nearby Cagayan de Oro, and is now recovering. He will need 
> ongoing surgery for a shattered arm, and the army is taking care of 
> his needs.
> Carlito is a well known bird guide in the area and runs the lodge on
> Mt Kitanglad, the only accommodation in the area. We were there to see 
> Philippine eagle, this was our second day in that particular site, 
> very near the eagle viewing location. It is a shame that Carlito has, 
> at least for the moment, lost his livelihood and good health, and 
> birders who have seen him finding and identifying birds on Mt 
> Kitanglad will be very concerned about his situation. The immediate 
> future of birding on the mountain is probably doubtful as well.
> I will be keeping in contact in with people in the Philippineswho can
> tell me and the other birders in the group how Carlito is progressing.
> We all decided to continue on our scheduled 5 day trip to Palawan
> after the incident, it was a  good decision, we were able to discuss 
> what had happened and work ourselves through the detail, to debrief a 
> lot with people who had been through the same experience. It was very 
> bonding for all of us.
> The birds and scenery in Palawan were also nice, it helped end the
> trip on a more positive note. No eagle though!
> Richard

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