Dominguez cites need to build public ethic that respects nature

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has underscored the need for fresh efforts to instill in the public consciousness the importance of a mutually beneficial relationship between man and nature, which is the underlying goal behind the ongoing efforts to save the Philippine eagle from extinction.

The Philippine eagle, which personifies the nation through its courage, strength and grace, also represents its predicament, which is “a general lack of appreciation for what needs to be done to conserve our wildlife--and, ultimately, to conserve our communities,” said Dominguez, who used to chair the board of trustees of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and was former Minister of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources during the Corazon Aquino administration from 1986 to 1987.

Dominguez, who remains an active contributor to efforts to help save the Philippine eagle, invited the public to find the time to watch a documentary on the country’s national bird created by Emmy-winning cinematographer Neil Rettig to inspire them in helping preserve “this magnificent symbol of the Philippines.”

“I hope that through this film, we could reach out to ordinary citizens to help in the effort to conserve this truly majestic bird. There is an African saying that goes: It takes a village to raise a child. In the case of the endangered Philippine eagle, it will take a nation to help it prevail,” Dominguez said at the inaugural screening of the documentary titled “To Save Our Eagle” held recently at the Ayuntamiento de Manila auditorium of the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) central office in Intramuros, Manila.

The 45-minute documentary filmed in ultra-high definition was produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership with the Philippine Eagle Foundation. Rettig followed a family of Philippine eagles for five months until its eaglet left its nest.

Dominguez described Rettig’s film as a “work of passion.”

“The Philippine eagle is said to represent the nation through its courage, strength and grace. It also represents our predicament. The plight of the Philippine eagle is due to the loss of habitat and a general lack of appreciation for what needs to be done to conserve our wildlife--and, ultimately, to conserve our communities,” Dominguez said.

He said that “in this sense, this film is more than being just about the Philippine eagle. It is about building a new awareness about the symbiosis between a sustainable natural environment and a contented human community. It is about building a vigorous public ethic that respects and appreciates nature.”

Also present at the screening were PEF Executive Director Dennis Salvador; Dr. Laura Johnson, the film coordinator of the “To Save Our Eagle” documentary; Officer-in-Charge Jesus Melchor Quitain, Sr. of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP); National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Executive Director Rogelio Francisco Bantayan, Jr.; National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon; and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Ernesto Abella.

The PEF, established in 1987, is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to promote, and work for, the survival of the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), which is considered one of the world’s largest and rarest eagles.

According to the PEF, the Philippine Eagle “is the top predator of the Philippine tropical rainforest” and “plays an important role in keeping the ecosystem in balance and provides an umbrella of protection to all other life forms in its territory.”

Dominguez hails from Davao City, the home of the Philippine Eagle Center, which is an 8.4-hectare sanctuary located in the foothills of Mt. Apo. The Center operates as a conservation breeding facility for the Philippine Eagle and other birds of prey.