A metropolis as chaotic and crowded as Metro Manila may be the last place in mind one would have to find a bird sanctuary. But surprisingly there is one. What makes it even more surprising is that it is found near the littered and filthy coastline of Manila Bay.
This sanctuary is called the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, popularly known as the LPPCHEA or LaPPaCHEA. It is a strip of land that protrudes from the main coast of Metro Manila serving as a buffer of sorts between the main coastline and the Manila Bay.
LPPCHEA in a vlog by Joel Andrada
As one of the few remaining natural areas in Metro Manila, not to mention its only remaining bird sanctuary, LPPCHEA was declared a critical habitat area in 2007, the first to be declared in the country. Thus, it is a protected area that is overseen by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.
It is because its status as a protected area that it was spared from further reclamation activities going on in the Manila Bay area. In particular, the planned San Miguel-designed airport was originally planned to be located in a reclaimed area a few meters off LPPCHEA. But due to the opposition of environmentalists and some officials like Senator Cynthia Villar, San Miguel decided to relocate their airport project to Bulacan. But that’s another story.
LPPCHEA entrance from Coastal Road/CAVITEX
One can’t help feeling a sense of awe and amazement seeing different species of birds managing to find refuge in the midst of the trash on the coast and floating on the water. Then again, the abundance of different trees and other plant life has made the area an attractive place of transit for these birds that are making their way south during the fall and winter seasons.
If you look close enough…
Thus, LPPCHEA is a favorite destination among bird watchers who are fond of documenting the various species that can be found in the habitat at any given point in time. The Urban Roamer was fortunate to join one such group, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines who had a recent bird watching activity in the area. Amazingly, the club managed to document a total of 22 bird species that day like the common kingfisher, little egret, chestnut munia, zebra dove, and the Philippine pied fantail, just to name a few.
Not my camera, sadly
LPPCHEA is an example that even a metropolis as chaotic as this one still holds a few surprises that deserve not only to be discovered by more people but also nurtured and protected. If anything, it serves as a glimmer of hope that a better metropolis is possible and we must continue to work on achieving that ideal.
LPPCHEA is open to the public for free, though you have to seek prior clearance from the DENR as it is a protected area. Also, just to set expectations, don’t expect any facilities there other than some bird watching stations. So it’s best to bring your own water and protection against the elements like a hat or umbrella. For more information, you can check out the details in the photo below.
Acknowledgments as well to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines for organizing the bird watching event.