Text by Gwen So
Photos by Gwen So, Tristan Mirasol, and Amado Bajarias, Jr.
Went on a three-day birding binge the long weekend of August 10 to 12 and it was upon the suggestion of Cathy M. that Amado “Mads” B., Tristan M., and I decided to check out what she called Tanay Parola on day 3. I thought Parola was a place, but it’s a thing. Parola is the Filipino term for “lighthouse.” Apparently, there’s this place somewhere in Tanay along the banks of Laguna Lake that has this structure and our target was a bird called Pheasant-tailed Jacana. Oooh, so exotic sounding! I didn’t know what to expect but then that’s what I like about birdwatching hehe.
Our group of three met at the McDonalds branch across Pavilion Mall (Edsa corner United Street in Mandaluyong) and we set off at 5 am. There should have been 4 of us but our youngest participant was still busy communing with the Sandman.
Animated conversations have a way of making a long trip short, so all I remember was hitting Ortigas extension and very soon we were in a town navigating narrow roads. On the last one we entered, it widened into a path with a picturesque view of the open sea. The sight that greeted us was very quaint. Indeed there was a small lighthouse with a covered shed opposite it, water hyacinths and kangkong everywhere, fishing boats and tour boats bobbing in the water, fisherfolk busy with their tasks, children playing, people jogging and taking photos, and the usual tambays. The weather was conducive to birding but the wind was a tad too strong. I later found out we were in a place called Barangay San Isidro.
A concrete memorial marker stands at the tip of the path to commemorate the victims of Typhoon Ondoy. The sculpture features a woman holding a rope with people clinging to it.
We had just alighted from the car when Tristan shouted “Look! What’s that?” It was the bird we came for! A black and white thing streaked past our line of vision. I haven’t even broken out in a sweat yet and already we saw the Pheasant-tailed Jacana! We sure had our fill of this bird! We also saw Yellow Bitterns, Black-crowned Night Herons, Wandering Whistling Ducks, Purple Swamphens, Common Moorhens, a White-collared Kingfisher, Egrets, and Philippine Ducks! I also spotted what I thought was a pigeon but it turned out to be a Nottabird.
I have a fear of heights but the desire to bird was greater so I scaled the lighthouse and was rewarded with a better view of the Jacana and two Philippine Ducks that whizzed past me. It did not rain that morning but the wind whipped like crazy, more so on top of the parola!
Our group attracted the attention of some kids who expressed interest in what we were doing so Mads lent them his binoculars and camera. They shared with us their sport of spider fighting, showed us a dead janitor fish, and demonstrated how quick it is to fish a snail out of the water.
We didn’t see the other attraction in this place – Grass Owls … so a Part Two is in order!
How To Get There
A. By private vehicle (from Mads B): The birding site in Parola, Tanay, Rizal is in Barangay San Isidro on the northern shore of Laguna Lake. It is approximately 35 km from the EDSA- Ortigas junction. From EDSA, take Ortigas Extension then drive to Sumulong Highway. Once in Tanay, Rizal, head towards the direction of the lake. Travel time from EDSA-Ortigas is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. No entrance fees.
B. By public transportation (From Cathy M): From Starmall in Shaw Blvd. corner EDSA, take the jeep bound for Tanay Proper via the old towns of Rizal, not the jeep which goes through Brgy. Sampaloc by Marilaque Highway. Then take a tricycle to Tanay Parola.