Category Archives: Animals

#341 Pulilan Carabao Festival

A decorated carabao at the Pulilan Festival, Photo by Sidney Snoeck

Hundreds of work animals, mostly carabaos, are led on a parade in the streets of the town of Pulilan in Bulacan province every May 14 and 15 to honor its patron saint, San Isidro Labrador. The carabaos decorated with garland and shaved for the occasion, genuflect or kneel in front of the church. 

Visitors can witness the colorful Carabao Festival and other religious activities on May 14 when farmers all over the town pay tribute to San Isidro Labrador for a bountiful thanksgiving. The celebration includes hanging all sorts of fruits, candies, food crops and multi-colored kipings on bamboo poles. The affairs is highlighted by the kneeling of carabaos in front of the church and the symbolic floats. Every year, droves of San Isidro devotees flock to Pulilan to witness and join the festivities (Excerpted from the Province of Bulacan website).

Mabuhay ang Pulilan Carabao Festival!

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#316 Frog Purse

Trust the Pinoy to combine the unusual with the practical and you have the Frog Purse, a rather hideous looking coin purse that one sees hanging in many souvenir and tourist shops across the Philippines.

Obviously makers of this unusual purse have a taste for uncommon materials, making good use of frog skin and anatomy to create a memorable purse.  

Whatever the arguments for or against this object, the purse actually serves a very practical function and is a funny piece of accessory to startle or surprise the squeamish among us. Indeed, let your money do the croaking….

Long live Pinoy resourcefulness!


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#299 Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary

Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary is an area in the Philippines declared as protected by the Ramos administration. The marshland acts like a sponge, as it is nestled in the mid-waters of the Agusan River drainage basin. Within its lakes, several floating communities can be found.

Agusan Marsh is one of the most ecologically significant wetlands in the Philippines. Located in the heart of Mindanao’s Agusan Basin, this vast expanse of marsh covers an area roughly the size of Metro Manila. It contains nearly 15% of the nation’s fresh water resources in the form of swamp forests.

During the rainy season, when the water rises to create large lakes, vast number of ducks come to Agusan Marsh to nest. In the dry months, thousands of birds come from as faraway as Japan, China and Russia to escape the chilly winter winds of Northern Asia. Over 200 individual species have been known to spend at least part of the year in the marsh, making it one of Asia’s most important transit points for wild birds (Source: Wikipedia).

Mabuhay ang Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary!

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#219 Kalabaw

The kalabaw (English: carabao Malay: kerbau) is the Filipino farmer’s indispensable helping hand, a so-called ‘lowly beast of burden” that is identified with Philippine farm life and the countryside.

Carabaos, a domesticated subspecies of the water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) are native to Southeast Asia. Adult carabaos weigh 700 to 800 kilograms—almost 2,000 pounds—and have fairly long gray or black hair thinly covering their huge bodies (Wikipedia). Water buffalos have been domesticated in the Philippines as far back as pre-Hispanic times and carabao skin was once used extensively in the Philippines to create a variety of products, including the armor of pre-colonial Filipino warriors.

No Filipino countryside scene is complete without the carabao. The animals were also exported from the Philippines to Guam in the late 1600s during the Spanish colonial administration of Guam. They were used for farming and to pull carts. In the 1960s, carabao races were also a popular sport in the Philippines especially during fiestas, but the practice is rarely seen these days.

Although there is no ordinance designating the kalabaw as the country’s symbol, the beast is often portrayed or identified with Filipino resilience and nationhood and is often used or portrayed in postal stamps, coins, government seals and other logos.  In the late 1980s, the carabao puppet character Kardong Kalabaw became popular as a symbol of the Filipino people’s hard work and sense of industry.

Mabuhay ang kalabaw!


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#213 Philippine Flying Lemur

The Philippine Flying Lemur (Cynocephalus volans) is one of two species of flying lemurs, the only two species in the order Dermoptera. The Philippine Flying Lemur is endemic to the Philippines and is found  in the Mindanao region and Bohol.

Although called a flying lemur, it cannot fly and is not a lemur.  An average Philippine Flying Lemur weighs about 1 to 1.7 kilograms and is 14 to 17 inches long. It has a wide head, small ears and big eyes. Its clawed feet are large and webbed for fast climbing and for gliding. Its 12-inch tail is connected to the forelimbs via a patagium. This membrane helps it glide distances of 100 meters or more, useful for finding food and escaping predators such as the Philippine Eagle. Its 34 teeth resemble that of a carnivore but the Philippine Flying Lemur eats mainly fruits, flowers and leaves.

The Philippine Flying Lemur is an evening creature and stays in hollow trees or cling on dense foliage during daytime. The female Philippine Flying Lemur usually gives birth to one young after a two-month gestation period. The young is helpless and attaches itself to its mother’s belly, in a pouch fashioned from the mother’s skin flaps. (From: Wikipedia)

Mabuhay ang Philippine Flying Lemur!

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#203 Kalangay

Kalangay or the Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) is one of the most endangered cockatoo species which belongs to Psittacidae or the family of parrots.

The Philippines is home to some of the world’s most exotic birds, and one of them is the kalangay which are treetop, hole-nesting birds. Cockatoos have a massive scimitar-like beak for cracking nuts, digging up roots, or prying grubs from wood. They have a long life span, some living more than 50 years. The kalangay is also capable of mimicking human voice. Endemic only to the Philippines, the kalangay is the only species in the country that represents the cockatoo group.

Mabuhay ang kalangay!

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#202 Manila Ocean Park

The Manila Ocean Park is an oceanarium located in Manila, owned and operated by China Oceanis Philippines, a Singaporean-registered firm that operates four oceanariums in China (From Wikipedia).

The park is located behind the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park and opened on March 2008. With a floor space of 8,000 square metres (86,000 sq ft) the Manila oceanarium is larger than the Sentosa Underwater World oceanarium in Singapore.

Seven sections comprise the park with Flow (a rainforest motif complete with 8 tanks of freshwater fishes); The Reef (exhibition of artificial corals in 48 tanks); Fishing Ground (features big fish and eagle-spotted rays in a long tank); Living Ocean- the main attraction of the oceanarium- is a 25-meter long walkway acrylic tunnel with a 220-degree curved acrylic walls similarly seen in other ocean parks in Asia; The Deep showcases marine animals found in the deepest parts of the Philippine waters; Sting Ray features a variety of rays in an unique overhang tank, and the section Shark features several species of Philippine shark.

Long live Philippine marine life!


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#192 Manila Zoo

Visitors at the Manila Zoo

For schoolchildren in Metro Manila, visiting the Manila Zoo is almost a rite of passage, never mind if the zoo runs short of children’s expectations.

Like the Pasig River and Manila Bay, the Manila Zoo (officially named the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden) has seen better times. And despite the deplorable state the zoo has fallen into in recent years, the zoo is fondly remembered by legions of Pinoy kids who have at least paid a visit to this popular zoo.

Located in Manila, Philippines and officially opened on July 25, 1959, it is one of the oldest zoos in Asia. The zoo is home to more than 800 animals from nearly 100 species as of 2007 (From Wikipedia).

The zoo’s most popular resident–  and contrary to urban myth it’s not the resident crocodile whose cousins in the Philippine parliament are more rapacious—  is Mali, an Asian elephant who was brought to the zoo as an orphaned calf. Other zoo residents include Philippine crocodiles (tamer creatures compared to their parliamentary equals), Bengal tigers, an orang-utan named Sisi and many more.

The Manila Zoo attracts millions of visitors every year particularly on weekends. There were reports of moves to close the zoo due to lack of funds and inadequate maintenance. But miraculously the zoo and its inhabitants have survived the jungle that is Manila.

Long live the animals in Manila Zoo!


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#126 Sinarapan

Sinarapan, compared with the size of a 10-cent coin

The sinarapan (Mistichthys luzonensis) is the world’s smallest commercially-harvested fish endemic or native to the Philippines. They are found in the Bicol region in southern Luzon island, particularly in Lake Buhi, Lake Bato, Bicol River and other bodies of water in Camarines Sur province.

Sinarapan are a type of goby and they are transparent, except for the black eyes. The sinarapan is so tiny, they measure only 2.1-2.45 cm and have an average length of 12.5mm. The males of this species are smaller, shorter and more slender than the females. A school of sinarapan, approximately 100,000 to 500,000 individuals, swim at an average depth of 7 to 10 meters. If placed inside a tabletop aquarium, they live for only about 10 minutes

Today, the sinarapan are threatened with extinction due to overfishing.

Mabuhay ang sinarapan!

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#121 Sabong


Tupada, a small-scale version of the sabong or cock fighting

Sabong or cock fighting is a popular Pinoy sport particularly in the countryside where raucous gambling remains more or less an established tradition.

To sabong afficionados the sport is similar to the Spanish toro where the fight is a battle to death. Specially trained cocks or roosters are equipped or literally armed with sharp slipper-moon shaped blades which are attached to their claws. When the cocks attack each other, the blades cut their rivals in the frenzy and those that are fatally wounded are left to bleed to death.

On Sunday afternoons when the sabong contests reach its peak, the sabong  or cock fighting arena is often packed to the rafters with a mostly male audience, with the air filled with shouts of bets and support for the fighting cocks, a chaotic scene of blood, flying feathers and men desperate for winning bets.

Cock fighting fans also have pintakasi or an informal cock fight which involves a person requesting another to make their roosters fight. The cock owners call their neighbors and friends to witness and bet.  Tupada is another kind of normal cock fighting where the aficionados build a small cockpit or arena exclusively for the fighting cocks.

The cock fighting tradition has become an iconic Sunday pasttime and is popular among tourists and foreign visitors who are out to see something colorfully local. Besides the curiosity for bleeding roosters fighting to death, the whole exercise is a perfect excuse to earn some extra money via gambling.

Long live Pinoy traditions!

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