Philippine Eagle Foundation celebrates 37th year anniversary, launches National Bird Breeding Sanctuary

Philippine Eagle Foundation Board of Trustees Juan Eugenio Roxas, BOT Francis Ledesma, BOT Raoul Littaua, PEF Executive Director Dennis Salvador, BOT Capt. Stanley Ng & PEF Director of Research and Conservation, Dr. Jayson Ybañez 

The National Bird Breeding Sanctuary (NBBS) was formally inaugurated on February 13, 2024 coinciding on the 37th year anniversary of the Philippine Eagle Foundation founded in 1987. The celebration of the two milestones was held at the PEC with the PEF team, volunteers and guests present. 

PEF Executive Director Dennis Salvador

There was a tone of excitement in the address of PEF Executive Director Dennis Salvador, who was part of the organizing team when the non-profit organization was conceived 37 years ago. He said, “Despite the challenges, we overcame. Since then (1987), we’ve bred 29 eagles in captivity even as people believe it couldn’t be done. We found eagles in the Cordillera even if scientists believe that the species doesn’t occur there. We’ve restored and protected the eagles’ forest habitat with many indigenous communities using our culture-based approach even as people thought it was unworkable. We sent 2 eagles to Singapore on a breeding loan agreement even though it took us over 10 years to make it happen. And today, we are moving some of our breeding birds to Eden despite the many challenges we faced – hopefully this action will be their armor against Avian influenza.” 

Avian flu is the primary reason for the breeding eagles’ exodus to its new sanctuary in Eden. Game and poultry farms sprouting around the PEC increases the risk of exposure to highly pathogenic diseases such as Avian Flu. In March 2022, threat was on PEC’s doorstep when an outbreak occurred in a town not far from the facility. It put all 32 eagles at risk of being exterminated and further endangering the species’ existence. 

As of March 2023, a recent study shows that the general population of the Philippine eagle is at 392 pairs (left) in the wild with the Leyte population believed to be extinct. In NBBS, the PEF can explore and experiment on other breeding and rearing techniques to bolster future reintroduction and/or restocking trials, including experimental chick-rearing by natural eagle pairs. 

Looking back, the first significant moment for PEF happened in 1992 when the first captive bred eaglet hatched. It was aptly named Pag-asa (hope). Pag-asa was the hope for the future recovery of the species—hope for our country, said Dennis Salvador. It was a monumental success in the center’s breeding and conservation efforts. 

The hatching of the Philippine eagle Pagkakaisa followed in the same year. Since then, the center has 29 eagles with the pair Dagitab and Brianne’s offsprings accounting for 11 eagles, and LDI (female) and Tsai producing seven offspring. The Philippine eagle is a monogamous species and keeps one mate for life. With the bird sanctuary as a more conducive site for breeding, the PEF is looking forward to more captive bred born eagles in the future. 

“Guests at the PEC will still enjoy the presence of the Philippine National Bird as only the breeding birds will be moved to its new home in NBBS. The PEC will be retaining 19 birds of which 17 are retired eagles (non-breeding birds that can no longer be released) and two rescued and rehabilitated eagles that will be released in Leyte this June. The eagles in the center will serve as education ambassadors of the species,” shared Jason Ybañez. 

Guests at the PEC will still enjoy the presence of the Philippine National Bird as only the breeding birds will be moved to its new home in NBBS. PAL Capt. Stanley Ng touring the PEC.

At the anniversary affair, the "37 years in the Conservation Mission" Milestone Wall was unveiled, and through a Virtual Tour, guests were shown the features of the NBBS. 

37 years in the Conservation Mission" Milestone Wall

Double celebration- 37th year foundation day & official launching of the National Bird Breeding Sanctuary. The Philippine Eagle Foundation team with the Board of Trustees at the Philippine Eagle Center

Present to welcome and personally thank the PEF’s partners in conservation were the PEF Board of Trustees: Francis Ledesma, President at Halifax Davao Hotel Inc.; Juan Eugenio Roxas, President and CEO of Filinvest Development Corp Utilities Inc.; Raoul Littaua, President and CEO at Insular Life Assurance Co. Ltd.; and Capt. Stanley Ng, President and COO of Philippine Airlines. 

Expressing their commitment of support were DENR-XI with Alberto Bandiola; Barangay captain of Barangay Eden LGU, Virgilio Sitoy; and Matanem Jonathan Awing, chairperson, Ancestral Domain Office of Bagobo Tagabawa Toril. 

Partners in saving the Philippine National Bird. Fermin Edillon of DLPC; Atty. Francis Fernandez, representing the Davao City Mayor; DLPC President & COO Rodger Velasco; PEF Exec. Dir. Dennis Salvador; Matanem Jonathan Awing, chairperson, Ancestral Domain Office of Bagobo Tagabawa Toril; John Howe, Exec. Dir. of Raptor Resource Project; & Reyani Romano, representing Capt. Stanley Ng of Philippine Airlines

Philippine Airlines, adopter of Philippine eagle Sinag (ray of light) from 2015 to present, granted an additional 1 million miles to the foundation, Davao Light & Power Co. will provide NBBS staff quarters and the Raptor Resource Project will donate more cameras to monitor wild Philippine eagles. 

Davao Light & Power Co. will provide NBBS staff quarters

The partners and supporters honored at the affair:

Philippine Airlines

Filinvest Development Corp Utilities Inc.

Insular Life

Department of Natural Resources

The LGU of Barangay Eden & the Davao City Government

The Davao City Government

Bagobo Tagabawa tribe of Toril

LGU of Malagos

BOT Francis Ledesma

Philippine Airlines Davao team