When seeking a place that offers serenity and the untouched beauty of nature, where do you often head out to?
Far from the city, we would presume. But did you know that amidst the hustle, bustle and pollution of Manila actually lies a haven for wildlife?
Just a few minutes' drive from the Coastal Road and the Manila-Cavite toll plaza is the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), a sanctuary for more than 82 species of local and migratory birds, around 70 species of trees and more.
A sprawling 175 hectares, the LPPCHEA is made up of two main locations: Long Island in Las Pinas and Freedom Island in Paranaque. 114 hectares are composed of mud flats, 30 hectares are of mangroves and about 2 kilometers are occupied by the beach area.
It’s hard to believe that this locale is man-made. Once threatened with reclamation, it was established in April 22, 2007 (Earth Day that year) by virtue of Proclamation No. 1412 during president Arroyo’s administration. An amendment in January 31, 2008, Proclamation No. 1412-A, then formed a governing body to manage the area. This group is chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and made up of members from the Department of Tourism (DOT), the local government units of Las Pinas and Paranaque, and the Wildbird Club of the Philippines.
From bird-watching, nature walks to tree planting, families in the metro can easily breathe in fresh air and appreciate the wonders of a carefully maintained environment at LPPCHEA. “There are a lot of birds early in the morning; small and very colorful ones,” says LPPCHEA DENR Manager, Rey Aguinaldo.