Sunday, November 1, 2015

ARTICLE | Birdwatching in the Philippines

In this advance age of ours, where most of our activities are occupied by technological devices, we sometimes take for granted that there are still things in life that cannot be replaced by artificial human creation. 

To wit, our concept of the world has been limited inside that boob tube and we are so alienated about the idea of how to enjoy this fleeting life. We sit in front of that screen believing that it is enough to see the world move through it. We are led to believe that we need not go experience the real thing because it will be such an effort on our part. But what do we get? Nothing but junk. I do not think that being out in the field would ever be replaced by just watching about it on some DVD or cable program. 

The point is, nothing will ever parallel our own encounters with the real world. That is where the irony comes in – we invent so many innovations but as a result, we become slaves from these gadgets that now run our lives. Apart from televisions, take for instance computers. Before there weren’t computers but we have been all right. We spend more time relating with other people and enjoying life the way we should –going out in picnics, swimming, strolling in parks, etc. But now, it has become so unthinkable for our generation to live without computers. It is like the world would stop if computers suddenly vanish from this terrain. 

To make things worse, human connections has been altered just the same. Our intimate relations has become a matter of frequencies and electronic mails. Unfortunately, this is the bitter truth that we have to accept. There’s no turning back. We are indeed slaves. Slaves from the clutches of technological advantage. And I have not even mentioned yet cellphones, i-pods, flashdrives, among others.
It is nice to think that once in a while, we can escape this bitter reality and enjoy the true beauty of life. What I mean is to enjoy the blessings that we still have. For instance, nature is one tenet of our existence that we merely glance but never give enough attention. 

I was amazed about how nature could have that grandeur that has remained in my peripheral awareness. Indeed, nature has a lot to offer and some of them are the birds in our surrounding. Birds have always delighted people all over the world because of their beauty and their power of flight. Historically, they used to be considered omens. The ancient Romans believed that the flights and calls of birds could foretell the future. 

Today, modern science still uses birds as a kind of oracle. Changes in bird populations can reflect the health of the environment. Some birds are indicator species, like the Philippines’ monkey-eating-eagle. They forecast environmental conditions. The knowledge of birds can help us plan a better, more sustainable relationship with nature. Birding also fulfills another basic instinct—the quest for knowledge. Birding is about acquiring knowledge. Not just about birds' names, but also about their songs, their behavior, and how they relate to the rest of nature. 

It's a perfect opportunity to enjoy a unique human pleasure—the successful exercise of lore. But more than these is the fact that different species of birds bring joy to us just watching them from afar. It makes us smile and makes us realize that we can still be humans after all. This is the message that birdwatching wants us to be acquainted with. 

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