The largest eagle in the country is a queen

May 28, 2022
A Philippine Eagle in the Sierra Madre, sex unknown. It is difficult to determine the sex of Haring Ibon, but females are typically larger than the males. Photo by David Quimpo.

“Gusto po namin na makita pa ng mga susunod na henerasyon ang mga ibon na ito.”

This was shared by Rowena Mariño, member of Kalipunan ng Liping PIlipina or KALIPI Tanauan during workshops with the Women Go project in the Southern Sierra Madre. Rowena and her fellow women leaders are working on conserving species in these forests, including the National Bird: the Philippine Eagle or Haring Ibon. Haring Ibon means “king of birds” in Filipino.

Adult female Philippine Eagles are typically larger than adult males. Since Philippine Eagles are the largest eagles in the Philippines, and some of the largest in the world, this means it is actually the female that holds the crown in terms of size. A fact not known to many, even among the eagle’s human neighbors in the protected area where KALIPI is working in.

KALIPI, and another women’s group called Kilos Unlad ng Mamamayan ng Real, Inc. or KUMARE, are both working within a protected area called PP 1636. It is here where they are working with the Haribon Foundation through the Enhancing the Role of Women in Protected Area Governance for Social Change (Women Go) project, funded by the European Union. Together they are essentially working for the conservation of Philippine Eagles in this part of the Sierra Madre.

Like these women, Philippine Eagles are devoted to their families. Once Philippine Eagles find their mates, they stay with each other for life. Their breeding cycle lasts two years, with each pair raising a single chick. Each family requires an average of 6,800 hectares of forest to sustain themselves. This is almost as large as the city of Marawi, or more than twice as large as the city of Makati.

According to the FAO, more than 25% of the world’s population relies on forest resources for their livelihoods. Although women make up more than half of the world’s population, only 15% of the world’s environment agencies are led by women, according to the IUCN.

This is the gap Women Go is trying to fill. One of the goals of the project is to get at least one women’s group actively engaged in a Protected Area Management Board or PAMB. Specifically the PAMB of protected area PP 1636.

To achieve this, the women of KALIPI and KUMARE have already been working on strategic planning, gender and development training, and training on basic ecology through the Women Go project. In doing so, these women will soon obtain positions where their insights and perspectives can be heard, to conserve these last remaining forests of the Southern Sierra Madre.

Similar to the female Philippine Eagle, the rightful half of the monarch of these forests, the women of KALIPI and KUMARE deserve positions alongside male leaders in these communities.

Nancy Elle is another member of KALIPI, who recently took part in a strategic planning workshop. During the activity she shared, “Ang mga kababaihan ay magkaroon ng karapatan na mapakinggan, magkaroon ng kaalaman para maprotektahan ang kalikasan,” (Women have the right to be heard, to have the knowledge to protect nature).

Philippine Eagle Week is this June 4 to 10.