WBCP Secretary Tinggay Cinco writes about the recent Japan Bird Festival which she and fellow members Babie Magadia, Ixi and Mikeli Mapua attended.
The Japan Bird Festival is the biggest birdwatching fair held annually in Japan. The festival’s main goal is conservation evolving around the theme “Coexistence of Birds and People.” First established in 2001, the Japan Bird Festival (JBF) aims to attract both bird watching and nature enthusiasts to participate in all its bird-oriented activities. Venue for the JBF is held each year in the environs of Lake Teganuma in Abiko City at Chiba Prefecture, which is about an hour’s drive north of Tokyo.
This year, I was lucky enough to attend once again the Japan Bird Festival held last November 05-06, 2015. My very first experience with the JBF was last year in 2015, when the 15th Japan Bird Festival opened its invitation to the three other Asian countries: India, Hong Kong, and the Philippines, facilitated by one of the JBF advisers, Mr. Haruhiko Asuka, a frequent birdwatching visitor to our country. This year, there were four delegates from the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines namely Babie Magadia, Ixi and Mikeli Mapua, plus myself. We interacted mostly with the locals relaying to them the richness of our country’s biodiversity, scenic sights, and mostly orient the people on some of the birdwatching activities that we have in the Philippines. Our booth showcased only endemic birds like the Coleto, the Spotted Wood Kingfisher, the Philippine Hawk Owl, etc. So many inquiries were made about bird tours conducted in our country that I almost ran out of calling cards! Participation in the festival also meant selling club merchandise. The fastest moving items were the bird stickers, Katala notebooks made out of recycled paper and of course the Philippine Eagle themed t-shirts. Japanese birdwatchers who had visited the Philippines also came to our booth to reminisce about their experiences in our country, and for those who have seen the Philippine Eagle in the wild, could not help but marvel at their unique experience.
Our volunteer English interpreter for the first day was a Filipina, Ms. Joselin Kobayashi who has been residing in Japan for the past 30 years . We had a fun time exchanging stories about our experiences in Japan. Really very helpful in expressing our thoughts to the booth visitors.
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines Booth, 16th JBF at Abiko City,Chiba Prefecture .With fellow delegates Babie Magadia and Mikeli Mapua together with our volunteer English interpreters Mr. Hiroshi and Ms. Michiko. Ms. Michiko was the same English interpreter we had for the 15th JBF. She volunteered for the 16th JBF knowing we were coming back.
Being a festival about birds, activities included sessions on illustrations, carvings , contests on bird sound ids and concerts. There were some 200 booths selling bird-themed merchandise, optics, and local products from various prefectures which were bird friendly, and eco-tours within Japan, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Bhutan.
At the end of the first day, all the delegates were welcomed with a cocktail by the JBF organizers from Abiko City administration, the Yamashina Institute, and the various bird club organizations from Japan. The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines was given a resounding applause as this is the second time that a Philippine delegation was sent.
The 16th Japan Bird Festival was a memorable experience for Babie, Ixi , Mikeli, and myself. First, it was a wish come true for me to be able to go back to Abiko and attend the 16th JBF. Second, we accomplished the mission of sending the message of conservation and being proud of our 683 avian species. Third, we made our visitors feel at home in our WBCP booth, exchanging stories with those who have been to our country and promoting birding sites for those who intend to visit in the future. Lastly, I felt that we have strengthened our relations between both countries by interacting with the Japanese people . Just a footnote, a number of students visited our booth, not only to see the endemic birds on exhibition but also to take the opportunity to practice their English conversational skills. They were amazed how we can speak English, even asking at what age we started learning the language.
With a heavy heart, Team WBCP had to head back home the day after 16th Japan Bird Festival. Though it was already my second time to be there for the JBF, I was able to make new friends, re-connect with old ones and got to experience once more Japanese culture at its best. Expressing my deepest gratitude to the Japan Bird Festival organizers for inviting the Philippines once again to this prestigous event. To our tireless host Haruhiko Asuka who patiently picked us up and sent us off back to Narita, toured us about in Tokyo and tended our every needs, our warmest “Thank You!” We are heavily indebted to Akiko Ota, Michiko Kurata and Joselin Kobayashi , our English interpreters who made us feel at home and became our voices during our stay. Attending bird festivals is not simply about birds, they are venues to showcase our rich biodiversity and our very own culture. We make friends with the people we meet who have touched our lives and make memories to remember. Keeping my fingers crossed to be back to Land of the Rising Sun in 2017.