Davao isn’t only known as the largest city in the world (in terms of area) but also the home of one of the largest and most powerful birds of prey in the world – the Philippine Eagle. On our first day in Davao, our group visited the Philippine Eagle Nature Center (also known as Philippine Eagle Camp) to get a glimpse of our national bird as well as other species of birds, mammals and reptiles. The center is just 45 minute drive from the city proper and situated in the foothills of Mt. Apo. It aims to educate people about conservation and to save and propagate the critically endangered Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi).
Before entering the park, the Davao City Water District collects an entrance fee of PhP5 for adults and PhP3 for kids. Just like most tourist attractions, there was a row of souvenir stands on the left side of the entrance and during our visit, a huge yellow python was conspicuously displayed inside a cage waiting for a photo opportunity with willing tourist for a fee of course! On the way to the Center, we saw a couple of natives dressed in their traditional costumes selling hand-made bracelets and necklaces. It was probably for a tourist show but the crafts they were selling were pretty cheap so we had hoarded our first set of pasalubong.
The park is vast, cool and surrounded with huge trees. It’s a good place for picnics and simply communing with nature. However, there were still many places we had to visit that day so we headed straight to the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) to see the giant raptors. Another fee will be collected to enter this facility, PhP50 for adults and PhP30 for children. The proceeds go to the conservation of the site and implementation of its programs.
I had previously worked as a student assistant at the Makiling Botanic Gardens and oftentimes I managed to get a free glimpse of their own collection of rescued raptors. But I was still impressed by the vastness of PEC’s facility and the sheer size of each cage. There are trees and other plants inside the cage and the surrounding areas simulate a natural habitat for the animals. The Center also has some interesting collections of plants and colorful flowers as well as a man-made fish pond.
Exploring the area further, we met Pag-asa, the first Philippine Eagle to be bred in captivity, and other species of birds. There were monkeys and crocodiles but I enjoyed most watching the birds, especially this mighty eagle that was perched on a post oblivious to all who were admiring him.
“The Philippine Eagle Center is under the auspices of the Philippine Eagle Foundation, a private, non-stock, non-profit organization dedicated in saving the endangered Philippine Eagle and its forest habitat. It firmly believes that the fate of our vanishing Philippine Eagle, the health of our environment, and the quality of Philippine life are inextricably linked. We are therefore committed to promote the survival of the Philippine Eagle, the biodiversity it represents, and the sustainable use of our forest resources for future generations to enjoy.”
How to Get to Philippine Eagle Center
The Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) is about an hour drive from the city and can be reached either by private or public transport.
By Bus: Buses going to Calinan depart every 15 minutes from the Annil Terminal located at corner Quirino and San Pedro Extension. Bus fare is at P30. From Calinan, take a pedicab going to the PEC. The ride is about 10 minutes and will cost you P6.
By Jeepney: Several jeepneys leave for Calinan daily from Agdao Market, Bankerohan Market or you can board them in San Pedro St. in Davao. Take a tricycle for the remaining 5 kilometers from Calinan to Malagos. The last jeepney from Calinan to Davao (with the sign Agdao) leaves at about 6p.m.
By Taxi: A taxi from Davao to the Philippine Eagle Center will cost you around PhP1500. You can always negotiate including the waiting time. (total time about 5 hours)