What about the Philippine Eagle?

Finally, things have settled down to a more manageable pace at school. Yesterday was the start of the ‘formal’ week of my regular classes and so far, everything has gone by smoothly. Now that I have finalized all my class schedules, planning and managing my work-flow would be much easier and to a great relief because my blogs are idling away.

Still working on a few tools that would make up a more organized system of managing my time and get my productivity to a higher level than before. I have so many things lined up the following months would be quite exciting. I’d be talking more about this from here on.

For now, it’s going to be something related to the Philippine Eagle, the American Bald Eagle and the Philippine education system. All of this came together in my Technical Writing class last Friday. What does all of those things got to do with Technical Writing? Bear with me and you’ll find out.

For our first meeting, our instructor for the Tech Write (who looks a lot like Garci.hehehe) class gave us two sample writings by two American authors, the first was by John Lannon and the second was by someone whose name my half-life memory failed to store for this post’s sake. The objective of the activity was for us to identify and distinguish a technically-written piece from the non-technically written ones, the literary pieces to be exact.

The subject-matter of the two sample writings is the American Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and how the two authors wrote their pieces in order to describe the eagle. To sum it all up here’s the breakdown of what we observed from each piece:

For John Lannon’s article:

  • It clearly was a literary piece
  • Used a lot metaphors
  • It was a subjective description of the eagle
  • His tone was proud, happy and exalting
  • It drew a lot from the author’s impression of the eagle

The most interesting feature of his article was the obvious exaggeration and glorification of the American values and identity which he likened to the characteristics of the Bald Eagle. This leads you to question his motive in writing the article, was he really trying to describe what the Bald Eagle was or was he only trying to promote the American identity?

The second author’s piece was the complete opposite;

  • It was precise and concise with its vocabulary
  • Based on scientific data
  • It was objectively written
  • It was written to inform the general reader of the Bald Eagle’s characteristics

This is were the entire discussion centered upon. My classmates and instructor dug right into it as if they knew everything about the Bald Eagle. There’s nothing wrong with it but in the middle of the class, an idea dawn on me, a sudden braingasm struck my brain.

“What about the Philippine Eagle?”

Philippine EagleI mean, heck, we were all Filipino students in the class, our instructor who looks like Garci is a full-blooded Filipino and since it’s June; the month we celebrate our Independence Day and Jose Rizal’s birthday, why can’t we be more nationalistic not just by talking in Filipino during class but by talking about Filipino things like in this case, the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi).

If the Bald Eagle is majestic, powerful, a beautiful bird that embodies the American identity, what about the Philippine Eagle and us Filipinos? Isn’t ironic that we know more about Western biology and their species than we know about our local biology and wildlife and the myriad of living organisms found in our country?

Do we not boast of having one of the most diverse ecosystems both marine and terrestial systems in the world? But how much do we really know about it? How familiar are we about it?

It’s a sad fact that we are at each others’ throats when the subject of what medium to use in our classrooms come center stage but we all seem to forget our advocacies and principles and automatically agree on which subject matter to talk in our classrooms.

Just like with religion, I think that the debate about which medium of instruction to use in our education system is a superficial and less important issue to settle. It’s more like focusing on the ‘form rather than substance.’ It’s pretty much useless to talk about which medium to use in our classroom when the material and subject-matters we’re going to talk about would remain the same, which is centered on the West, in particular on Uncle Sam.

I know, critics would say that our education system came from the Americans but wake up! The Americans have long been gone (physically) from our lands and in our classrooms and we’d still talk about the land of dreams and opportunities as if our own country has been reduced to nothing more than a training ground for world-class maids, DHs, and other professionals.

I maybe veering off course now but the discussion in our Technical Writing class offers a lot of insight into why we’re still a backward country and our local environment deteriorating to a tragic state.

Since we know more about Western biology and far more interested in their wildlife, we tend to forget about our own. Almost all of us are familiar about what the Bald Eagle looks like but we always take a second look before realizing what it is when we see a picture of a Philippine monkey-eating eagle, which by far is more beautiful, majestic, powerful than the Bald Eagle. It’s even the largest eagle in the world.

Sadly, since we know more about the Bald Eagle, our contributions and awareness of it has helped it get off the endangered species list. We knew more about how DDT has nearly driven the Bald Eagle to extinction while we have barely heard and cared about how deforestation of our local forests and jungles have devastated our Philippine Eagle which we now come to know as ‘Haribon’ or ‘Haring Ibon’ thanks to sporting events and commercial projects like the summer sports clinics instead of real discussions like the ones in our classrooms.

We say that knowledge is power, and we could have the power to save our Philippine Eagle if we only have more knowledge about it. Going to zoos, the Haribon website, or similar venues is not enough, we must teach our youth about the Philippine Eagle and about the rest of our local biology and wildlife so that they would better appreciate, understand and care for our environment and possibly create a connection to it with their being Filipino.

The debate still goes on about which language to use as the medium of instruction in our classrooms. All the while, Western Biology or any other body of knowledge would still be discussed and studied in our classrooms while the local counterparts would remain a mere tourist attraction. Come tomorrow Wednesday, in our Technical Writing class, more and more American authors would influence my other classmates galvanizing their minds into thinking they’re only here in the Philippines to study and learn while after they graduate, it’s off to the land of opportunities.

And what about the Philippine Eagle? What about this God-foresaken country? Perhaps the following song by Joey Ayala would suffice to be the answer for now…

Agila by Joey Ayala

Nais kung lumipad tulad ng agila
At lumutanglutang sa hangin
Magkaroon ng pugad sa puso ng kagubatan
Ngunit ito ay panaginip lang at maaring di matupad

‘Pagkat ang kagubatan ay unti-unting nawawala
Mga puno nito’y nangingibang bayan
At ‘pag walang puno wala na ring mapupugaran
Kapag ang agila’y walang pugad
Wala na siyang dahilang lumipad

Oh haring ibon, hari kung tunay
Nais kung tumulong ng kaharian mo’y muling mabuhay

Kung nais mong makakita ng agila
H’wag kang tumingala’t tumitig sa langit
‘Pagkat ang mga agila nitong ating bayan
Ang iba’y nabihag na
Ang natitira’y bihirang magpakita

Tiniklop na nila ang kanilang mga pakpak
Hinubad na nila ang kanilang mga plumahe
At sila’y nagsipagtago sa natitirang gubat
Ang lahi ba nila’y tuluyan ng mawawala

Oh haring ibon, hari kung tunay
Nais kung tumulong ng kaharian mo’y muling mabuhay (2X)

Photo by Alejo P. Manaloto (source)

4 Replies to “What about the Philippine Eagle?”

  1. Nothing is as majestic, powerful and beautiful as out Philippine Eagle and that's a fact!

    I hope our government and fellow countrymen do more to help and support the programs to rehabilitate and protect the Philippine Eagle.

    Good read. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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