For the birds, a winner

5 April 2013

From a poem by Swinburne: "That no life lives forever,/ That dead men rise up never,/ That even the weariest river/ Winds somewhere safe to sea."

Civilizations thrive or die depending on how they treat their rivers and how their rivers treat them. With all our problems with water availability and potability in the age of planetary, in particular urban, degradation, what a relief to hear the good news of Las Piñas-Parañaque's Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area being named one of the year's wetlands of international importance. Las Piñas-Parañaque is as urban as you can get, and it joins the list of other previously acknowledged Philippine winners - Tubbataha Reefs, Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro, Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu, and more recently Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan.

Congratulations to Cynthia Villar of Las Piñas, who has been fighting to conserve and protect the wetland that hosts and shelters 72 species of birds (out of the 150 found in Metro Manila), that is under threat of flooding of up to 5 meters and damage to mangroves and marine life. Will this latest citation by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Iran keep the looming reclamation of Manila Bay at bay?

Even the convention is aware of the "ongoing reclamation projects and mangrove cutting," not to mention the wastes from nearby cities that accumulate along the coast. Feisty Cynthia, who has taken her case to the Court of Appeals, is elated by the news, but knows more work and feistiness are called for: "We are encouraged even more to protect this fragile piece of Las Piñas and Parañaque."

As the only bird sanctuary in an urban setting, LP-P is appropriately called the "last bastion."