Golden sunset  serving as a beautiful backdrop for a jumpshot of friends.
A Trip to Remember, November 9, 2014.

Experience is not just a good teacher, but a great comforter as well.

 After a long time of not being out in the world because of so much things at hand, I decided to join an educational trip after a friend invited me in. The trip was basically an appreciation of wildlife in the northern part of Luzon, but just few hours from Manila.

The activities were packed into a one-day trip since most of us would be working the day after the trip. We left Laguna around 3:00 in the morning since we really have to be early in our first area to visit, the Candaba Swamp in Candaba, Pampanga.

Candaba Swamp is a very vast area of marshland which is usually flooded during wet season but some areas usually become dry during late November to April (Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands). This wetland is very important to both people and a lot of wildlife, especially to a number of migratory birds. The wetland is used by the locals as rice paddies and fishponds, while it serves as a habitat for birds during their migration period. These were the activities we did in Candaba Swamp during our trip:

1. Bird Watching

A lot of birds could be seen flying, nesting or even running around the areas of the wetland. It ranges from small to birds with a very wide wing span, from plain colored ones to very colorful kinds of bird.

A professor and his students viewing the migratpry birds in Candaba Swamp.
A professor and his students viewing the migratpry birds in Candaba Swamp.

2. Flower Appreciation

Aside from the birds, the swamp is also blessed with a lot of wonderful and colorful water plants. Most of the flowers have very bright colors with size bigger than an adult’s fist.

Huge flowers in the swamp.
Huge flowers in the swamp.

The next area that we visited was Subic. Subic is known as a historical area since it served as a US Military Reservation during the time of President Theodore Roosevelt. It  was later became a Japanese monitoring and defense facility during the Japanese occupation  in the Philippines, but then again controlled by the US after dispatching around 40,000 soldiers in the area. Subic was turned over to the Philippines and became a municipality under an Executive Order issued by President Carlos P. Garcia (Official Website of Municipality of Subic). Although the area, until now, is still booming with a lot of economic activities, a lot of wildlife can still be seen even just along its public highways. Some of the wildlife easily accessible to people were:

1. Fruit bats

A number of fuit bats just along the highway of Subic.
A number of fuit bats just along the highway of Subic.

Just along the highway of Subic, a large number of fruits bats could be seen hanging on trees. By making loud noises, the bats would be distracted and would fly around.

2. Monkeys

A monkey taking a tour along the highway of Subic.
A monkey taking a tour along the highway of Subic.

Along the road of Subic, a lot of signages could be seen ,with text “Monkey” in it. It simply an indication that monkeys could be seen passing through the area.

Last but not the least, we went to the Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong, Bataan. Unlike other beaches that I visited, the area didn’t have much resorts or other economic activities. According to Kuya Arnold, one of the patrollers of the conservation center, there was a municipal ordinance stopping resorts from occupying the area where sea turtles lay their eggs. It would not only decrease the instances of these wildlife from laying their eggs, but could actually stop them altogether from doing so. The conservation of the Pawikan in the area was successful since the efforts were initiated by the locals themselves.

Although the area had not much to offer in terms of the usual tourism activities as some other beach areas, visitors of the area could still enjoy their visit through the following activities:

1. Swimming

Walking in bare foot.
Walking in bare foot.

Although the sand of the area is not white, the beach has refined sands that is good for swimming. The beach area was also very clean.

2. Pawikan Patrolling

Together with Kuya Arnold of the Pawikan Conservation Center (Kuya Arnold is the one in black shirt)

In the evening, the visitors could ask the conservation center if they could join the Pawikan patrol. They usually allow it as long as the visitors would listen to the guidelines given by the patroller. During our trip, we were successful to witness the laying of eggs of an Olive Ridley.

3. Egg transfer

Eggs collected for transfer to the conservatory hatchery.
Eggs collected for transfer to the conservation center hatchery.

The aim of the patrolling did not only stop after the laying of the eggs. Their main objective was to secure the eggs from a lot of predators that could endanger  the hatchlings, thus, they transfer the eggs from the beach front from where the pawikan laid its eggs to the hatchery inside the conservation center.

As I mentioned, we only had a day to spend for the trip. Although it was very brief, we were able to maximize our 24 hours because we were able to gain a lot of experience from the various activities we did.

When we left, we took nothing but pictures, we left nothing but memories.

For more pictures of our trip, kindly go to the Life Gallery page.

Other notes:

  • It is good to bring your own food when you want to visit Candaba Swamp  since there was no available stores around the area.
  • It is also better just to rent a van when visiting Candaba Swamp since the area is not that accessible to public transport.
  • If you can, bring a camera with a good lens since the birds are very difficult to photograph using an ordinary lens.
  • Bring also a pair of binoculars.
  • When doing a Pawikan patrol, be patient and listen to your guide.
  • Observe the do’s and dont’s mentioned by your guide during a Pawikan patrol.
Travel Guide*
Route Mode of Transportation Estimated Travel Time
Olivarez Plaza** to Candaba Swamp (via San Miguel, Bulacan) Van (Rented) ≈2.5 hours
Candaba Swamp to Candaba Town Proper  Van (Rented) 30 minutes
Candaba Town Proper to Subic (Puregold) Van (Rented) 2 hours
Subic to Morong, Bataan Van (Rented) ≈1.5 hours
*based on actual events
**Los Banos, Laguna (College)