• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Whenever you search in PBworks or on the Web, Dokkio Sidebar (from the makers of PBworks) will run the same search in your Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Gmail, Slack, and browsed web pages. Now you can find what you're looking for wherever it lives. Try Dokkio Sidebar for free.


Assessing Filipino Awareness of Environmental Challenges 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years ago
Assessing Filipino Awareness of Environmental Challenges

 by Hannah Fleming



Description and Rationale


The Philippines is a beautiful country rich in resources and inhabited by a vast variety of plants and animals. In 2000, it was also inhabited by 76.5 million people, and by 2029, government estimates suggest that this number will have doubled (National Statistics Office). Naturally, these people have a huge impact on the Philippine environment.


How well do Filipinos understand their country’s environment? Do they have any widespread misconceptions? How well does the education system educate them about the Philippine environment? The science curriculum is generally taught in English – does this make it unnecessarily hard for Filipinos to learn the content in it? Would there be any way to modify the curriculum to make it more informative? Do they realize how biologically unique their country is? How well are Filipinos currently taking care of the environment? Would they do a better job if they were better educated about the environment?


Is the public awareness of the Philippines’ environmental problems satisfactory? Preliminary questioning suggests not. Many Filipino health practices and beliefs about the environment are based on logical, yet incorrect, assumptions. How widespread are these mistaken beliefs? Do educated Filipinos believe them? What would be a good way to show the general public how they are incorrect? How many of these ideas actually have a negative effect on the way Filipinos treat the environment?


The initial purpose of this project will be to research Filipino understanding of local environmental challenges, beginning with an investigation into the exact nature of these challenges. This will be followed by interviews with Filipinos, hopefully of a variety of ages and walks of life. This will help guide the experimental phase where methods of educating people about the environment will be further explored.


It is hoped that a better understanding of Filipino awareness of environmental concerns will help show how to best improve this public awareness, and therefore improve public care for the environment.



table of contents...



Common Names and Synonyms



Pithecophaga jefferyi is also called the Philippine eagle. The original name given to it by its discoverer was Monkey-Eating Eagle due to its supposed dietary habits, but in 1978 its name was officially changed to Philippine Eagle. Filipinos also call it aguila (Spanish for ‘eagle’) or haribon, a contraction of haring ibon, which means ‘bird king.’





Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves (birds)

Order: Falconiformes (birds of prey)

Family: Accipitridae (largest family of birds of prey)

Genus: Pithecophaga (monkey-eating)

Species: P. jefferyi (Jeffery, the name of the discoverer’s father)


table of contents...



Morphology and Physical Description


Pithecophaga jefferyi is often considered to be the largest eagle in the world, although the Harpy Eagle and the Steller’s Sea Eagle are about the same size. The average female is about 1 meter long, weighs about 7 kg, and has a wingspan of 2 meters. The male tends to be about 10-20% smaller and weighs about 5 kg (“Philippine Eagle”).


The Philippine Eagle is brown on the upper side and white on the underside. It has heavy, yellow legs with large, powerful claws. Its prominent, high-arched bill is a bluish-gray, and it has blue-gray eyes. The eagle's head is adorned with a crest of long brown feathers (“Philippine Eagle”).


table of contents...


Getting Food


The Philippine Eagle has very little natural competition from other animals for food. This as just as well – a single nesting pair can require up to 50 square miles of forest in order to provide enough food for them to eat (White).


Pithecophaga jefferyi is carnivorous. As its original name suggested, it has been known to eat monkeys, but its diet is not limited to that. It eats a variety of mammals, snakes, and other birds. The eagle's food habits vary from island to island because of the different prey available in various areas. For example, flying lemurs, the preferred prey in Mindanao, are absent in Luzon (“Philippine Eagle”).


Individuals hunt from perches, slowly moving downhill from perch to perch. Upon reaching the bottom, they soar back up the hill. Pairs have been observed hunting together; one individual acts as a decoy, drawing the attention of the prey it while its partner executes a surprise attack from the rear (Arkive).




Pithecophaga jefferyi is monogamous, like most other eagles (“Philippine Eagle”).


Its nest is normally built on an emergent dipterocarp, or any tall tree with an open crown. The nest may be nearly 3 metres across and about 30 metres above the ground. Philippine Eagles are known to be very loyal to the places where they lay their eggs ((“Philippine Eagle”).


Pithecophaga jefferyi nests once every two years and lays only one egg each time. The parents incubate it alternately for about 60 to 61 days. After hatching, the eaglet remains in the nest for up to 5½ months. Once it can fly, the parents look after it for about 17 months (Apanay).


Environmental Factors


Pithecophaga jefferyi The Philippine Eagle is an inhabitant of primary forest, but also occurs in second growth and gallery forest, even crossing clearings. It prefers sloped areas of fairly high elevation, since this fits in well with its hunting patterns. However, it avoids extremely high areas because of a lack of suitable trees and prey (“Philippine Eagle: Pithecophaga jefferyi”).


The Philippine Eagle has almost no competition in the wild. The Philippines does not have an overabundance of predators, and there is little chance for interspecific competition because of the eagle’s low population (White)


table of contents...

Origin and Distribution

 The Philippine eagle is limited to four islands in the Philippines – namely Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. It is most common in Mindanao, but in Samar and Leyte it is almost extinct. In Luzon, it is limited to the Sierra Madre mountain range. There are some reports of this species also being found in other islands such as Cebu and Negros, but these reports are probably incorrect (“Philippine Eagle: Pithecophaga jefferyi”).


Although some think that P. jefferyi was once distributed throughout the Philippines, others suggest that it has always been restricted to eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. They reason that there is a lot more extended annual rainfall in these areas, whereas western Luzon and the islands west of Samar and Leyte are subject to marked dry seasons during the normal P. jefferyi breeding period, and are therefore considered to be unsuitable (“Philippine Eagle: Pithecophaga jefferyi”).



Importance to People



Although it is occasionally sold as a pet, buying and selling Pithecophaga jefferyi is strictly prohibited. Collection of the species may only be allowed for conservation-related research purposes, and only after a permit is granted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Apanay).


Because of its many requirements in order to live, the presence of a Philippine Eagle in a forest indicates a healthy ecosystem. Because of this, the Philippine Eagle has become the flagship species of conservation efforts in the Philippines. Many conservationists worry about this species not only because of its uniqueness, but because in its function as an indicator of environmental status, its current scarcity suggests that the Philippine ecosystem is in a bad state. (Doctolero, Saldajeno and Leones).




Survivability and Endangered Status


Threatened by hunting and deforestation, the Philippine Eagle population is estimated to be at only 500 pairs. It is considered to be critically endangered. This means that the species may become extinct in the next 10-15 years if its population in the wild continues to decrease. Its present status is mainly due to destruction of forest brought about by unethical logging and agricultural practices. The Philippine deforestation is one of the highest in the world – almost 90% of the country’s primary forest has already been lost. However, hunting and collection for illegal trade are also significant factors in P. jefferyi’s decline (Apanay).


Philippine eagles can live any length of time between 30 to 60 years, depending on the quality of their environment. Despite this relatively long life span, the eagle’s numbers are slow to rise because of a low reproduction rate – one chick per mating pair every second year.


Efforts are being made to rescue the Philippine Eagle. In 1969, what was then called the Monkey-Eating Eagle Conservation Program was established. It started operating as a private institution in 1987, changing its name at some point to the Philippine Eagle Foundation. Today it runs the Philippine Eagle Centre, where 22 eagle chicks have been born in captivity.


In 1977, P. jefferyi was officially given the name ‘Philippine Eagle’ and in 1995 was made a national emblem. Both these actions were done in order to heighten local awareness and sympathy for its plight (White).


table of contents...

Potential Solutions


The Philippine Eagle project is an excellent example of an instance in which Filipinos have decided to work together to improve the environment. If some Filipinos managed to bring a species back from the brink of extinction, why isn’t the Philippine environment cared for better? One sensible answer may be that people are just not informed about environmental problems.

What is the exact level of public knowledge of Philippine environmental concerns? Although the researcher has a general idea, more specific data has not been gathered so far because of the confines of the project. Despite limited data, there seem to be several promising possible courses of action that may be able to help improve public awareness of the environment. Below are 2 possibilities with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages for each.  Along with each possibility is a current status report of progress made to date on each of the possibilities.



Possibility 1


In order to improve public understanding of environmental issues, the researcher could make a brochure that would give a simple introduction to several of the most pressing environmental concerns. It could also include a few things that the reader could do in order to combat the problems. It would be in Tagalog so that people without much education wouldn’t have such a hard time reading it. It could be distributed to people, and some copies left, for example, in waiting rooms, so that people who were feeling bored would read them.




1.    This would be a good way to affect a lot of people without requiring much cooperation from anyone else. People with waiting rooms probably wouldn’t turn down leaving something there for people to read.

2.    It would provide people with potentially interesting reading material. A big problem with getting information out here is that people just don’t like to read. By being fairly short, and being in a place frequented by a lot of people for long periods of time, it would probably get read by people who would shy away from heavier reading material – say, an English-language Biology project report.




1.    The brochure might not reach a very high standard. It wouldn’t look very nice because of printing limitations, and because of the researcher’s age, some of the writing might not be very good.

2.    Because of limited data, it would be very hard to know what exactly to write about. The researcher wouldn’t know what information was already common knowledge, and what seemingly basic facts were actually not very widely known.


Possibility 2


A logical response to the lack of data on public awareness would be to gather some. The best way to do this would be through a series of interviews with Filipinos. Although the sample size would be relatively small, the interviewees would be drawn from a variety of social strata, as to give a more general picture of public awareness.





1.    This would provide information vital for any further step to improve local environmental awareness. The data gathered could show what areas of knowledge Filipinos know a lot about, and what areas need to be addressed better. This source could be an excellent help for anyone else trying to improve environmental awareness in the Philippines.

2.    The interviewees may be interested by the interview, and become curious about some issues they did not understand.





1.    Although this step may produce useful information, it does very little to directly improve local environmental awareness. Any actual improvement of awareness would rely on the work of others.

2.    Because of time constraints, the number of people interviewed would have to be relatively small. Therefore, the data might not be very reliable.


This researcher chose to do interviews because it seemed too hard to know what to write in a brochure without having done any research. 13 Filipinos aged 15 to 67 and with a variety of social and educational levels were interviewed. The interviews were done in Tagalog and translated into English for the benefit of people who do not speak the local language.


 The questions on the interview were, of course, written without knowledge of how people would actually answer them. Some seemed too easy, some produced an interesting variety of answers, and some, for a variety of reasons, just did not work. In some cases, people’s answers to one question made a succeeding question unnecessary. As a result, the interview itself changed slightly over the course of the survey. The final version is given at the start of both sections of interview, complete with possible correct answers. Readers should keep this in mind whenever they come across differences between the basic interview and interviews that were given to individual people.


The results from the interviews varied widely. Some people seemed to be better-informed that the researcher, while other answers demonstrated a complete lack of thought. A few general trends were observed, but more research, with bigger sample sizes, would probably be needed to verify them:


•    More educated people tended to know a lot more about the environment than less educated people. What they actually studied did not seem to matter, and several of their answers indicated that some of what they knew they had learnt later in life, after their formal education was over. This suggests that eagerness to learn was probably the cause of their higher awareness, rather than the amount of time they actually spent studying the environment.

•    Not only did being educated seem to improve a person’s knowledge – even being from an educated family seemed to help. Mariel Blas, for example, had better-educated parents than Jellyanne Ignas. Even though Jellyanne had finished more schooling than Mariel, she didn’t get as many right answers in the interview.

•    Younger people seemed to have better environmental understanding than older people with the same educational level. Several factors may account for this, but the researcher believes this may suggest public awareness is on the rise, with younger people learning more about the Philippine environment than their predecessors.


Following is the final form of the interview, complete with 'correct' answers.


Q: What are some causes of pollution?

A: Cars, factories, littering, etc.


Q: What are some effects of pollution?

A: There’s a lot. Global warming, the hole in the ozone layer, extinction, etc.


Q: Do all vehicles emit pollution? If not, which?

A: All vehicles that use diesel or petrol emit pollution.


Q: If you want to reduce pollution, which fuel is better to use: diesel or gasoline?

A: It is generally agreed that gasoline has a lower density of pollutants.


Q: What do you think cities could do in order to reduce pollution that comes from vehicles?

A: Emmision testing, encouraging public and alternative methods of transport, etc.


Q: Does America (the USA) make pollution?

A: Yes, America makes pollution.


Q: Which makes more: America or the Philippines?

A: America really beats the Philippines. It’s the number one emitter of CO2 (cause of global warming). 24% of all the CO2 emitted in the world by cars comes from America. The Philippines? Not even 1%!


Q: Why is there global warming?

A: CO2 emissions that are building up in the atmosphere. It comes from vehicles, coal-burning plants, etc.


Q: In your view sir/ma’am, will the Philippines be affected by global warming?

A: Yes.


Q: In what ways?

A: Not only will the weather heat up, but storms will become stronger and more frequent. Water level in the sea may rise and submerge some parts of the Philippines.


Q: Isn’t it right sir/ma’am that there are kinds of animals that are really only here in the Philppines. In your opinion – just a guess – about how many are they?

A: There are about 550 kinds of animals, excluding insects. And them? About 14,600.


Q: In your view sir/ma’am, is it possible that the Philippine eagles will be used up?

A: According to scientists, the Philippine eagle may become extinct within the next ten years.


Q: Sir/ma’am, you know what dynamite and cyanide fishing are, right? What are some of their effects?

A: Too many fish die, coral is destroyed, and sometimes the fishermen are harmed too.


Q: In your opinion sir/ma’am, is it really important to take care of the animals in the Philippines? Why?

A: Opinion question – no objective answer.



Q: According to the law, are you allowed to chop down narra trees?

A: No.


Q: Are there still people who chop them down?

A: Yes.


Q: Is the Philippines getting richer because of illegal logging?

A: No. Tourism is reduced and most of the money from logging goes to those who are already rich.


Q: In your view sir/ma’am, is there deforestation here in the Philippines?

A: Yes.


Q: How bad is it?

A: Very bad. 90% of the Philippine forest has been lost already, and the remaining 10% is still being cut down.


Q: What are some of its effects?

A: Some kinds of animals and plants go extinct, landslides and erosions happen, and the tribal people who live there lose their livelihood, etc.


Q: Where does the water you drink come from, sir/ma’am?

A: No objective answer.


Q: (If it comes from the tap,) do you just drink it? Do you do anything to clean it, or is it already clean?

A: No objective answer.



Q: Sir/ma’am, what do you think is the main reason for pollution in rivers?

A: Rubbish that comes from homes (not factories).


Q: There are rivers here like the Pasig that are called biologically dead because of so much pollution, right? In your view sir/ma’am, is there hope that they will get cleaned up?

A: No objective answer.


Q: Do you sell rubbish to a junkshop?

A: No objective answer.


Q: If you want to reduce rubbish, which is a better place to eat when you’re out; MacDonalds or Jolibee?

A: Probably Jolibee, because they use washable plates rather than containers made of syrofoam. But even MacDonalds is also reducing rubbish.


Q: Do you buy at SM?

A: No objective answer.


Q: Do you have a Green Bag, sir/ma’am?

A: No objective answer.


Q: Sir/ma’am, what do you do with plastic bags that come from the supermarket?

A: No objective answer.


Q: Which is better to do with rubbish: burn it or put it on the rubbish truck?

A: Put it on the rubbish truck.


Q: Does conserving electricity help the environment?

A: Yes.


Q: Which kind of light saves more power: flourescent or incandescent?

A: Flourescent.


Q: Where does the power that we use here come from?

A: Most of it is produced in coal-burning power plants, but hydroelectric dams may contribute as well.


Q: Does this hurt the environment?

A: Hydroelectric dams are fairly okay, but burning coal is really bad for the environment.


Q: In your view sir/ma’am, what can you do as a Filipino to care for the environment here?

A: No objective answer.

table of contents...


Biblical Rationale


Paul was an Aramaic-speaking Jew, well-educated in the Jewish faith and a member of the sect of the Pharisees. As an expert in the Mosaic Law, he was trained how to argue. We see an example of him using a Jewish style of reasoning in Acts 13:16-41, when he spoke to a Jewish synagogue in Pisidian Antioch. His speech is littered with references to Old Testament passages that a Gentile would find very hard to follow.

A bit later on in Acts 17:22-31, Paul gives another speech. This time, however, he has a very different audience – the Areopagus, Athens’s main court. His listeners are primarily Greeks, most of them trained in philosophy. Paul’s speech also changes. Gone are the Old Testament references. In their place, Paul refers to Greek poetry. His logic and his appeals have also changed.

In 1 Corinthians 9:22b, he writes, “I have become all things to all people so that by all means possible I might save some.” In order to do this, Paul had to understand the people he was going to be like. In this example, he had to understand what the Greeks actually believed about God. He did this so that he would be able to reach them better.

In the same way, if people want to reach the Filipino people in order to explain environmental issues to them, they need to be able to understand them first. This research was done in order to enable that.




Allaby, Michael. “Accpitridae.” HighBeam Encyclopedia. 1999. April 2008 <http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O8-Accipitridae.html>


Apanay, Ira Karen. “Philippine eagle gets chance to return to Mount Itanglad.” Manila Times. 6 Mar. 2008. Apr. 2008 <http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/mar/06/yehey/prov/



Apanay, Ira Karen. “50 Philippine Rivers ‘Biologically Dead’.” Manila Times. 3 Apr. 2008. Apr. 2008 <http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/apr/03/yehey/metro/



Banasi, Charlie. Personal interview. 29 Apr. 2008.


“Bird of Prey.” (2008, March). Wikipedia. Mar. 2008. Apr. 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_of_prey>


Blas, Mariel. Personal interview. 27 Apr. 2008


Calixtro, Dexter. Personal interview. 3 Mar. 2008.


Deloso, Jojo. Personal interview. 30 Apr. 2008.


Doctolero, Heidi, Pilar Saldajeno and Mary Ann Leones. “Philippine Biodiversity: A World’s Showcase” Haribon. 1 Jul. 2006. Apr. 2008 <http://www.haribon.org.ph/?q=node/view/352>


Espinosa, Natividad. Personal interview. 2 Mar. 2008.


Fermindoza, Josefiine. Personal interview. 29 Apr. 2008.


Heaney, Lawrence, Perry Ong, Romeo Trono, Leonard Co, Thomas Brooks. “Philippines.” Hotspots Revisited. 2004. Apr. 2008 <http://www.biodiversityscience.org/publications/hotspots/Philippines.html>


Ibañez, Jayson. “Rare and threatened RP National Bird found in Zamboanga del Norte” Philippine Eagle Foundation. Aug. 2007. Apr. 2008 <http://www.philippineeagle.org/index?news_id=8&pageval=news>


Ignas, Jellyanne. Personal interview. 27 Apr. 2008.


Joloan, Cherrylyn. Personal interview. 25 Apr. 2008.


Liu, Adelina. Personal interview. 28 Apr. 2008.


Pesuelo, Vida. Personal interview. 27 Apr. 2008.


“Philippine Eagle.” Wikipedia. Mar. 2008. Apr. 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_eagle>


“Philippine Eagle Biology.” Arkive. 2008. Apr. 2008 <http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/birds/



“Philippine Eagle: Pithecophaga jefferyi.” 2008. Apr. 2008 <http://www.victorialodging.com/files/philippine_eagle.pdf>


Poe, Lourdes. Personal interview. 28 Apr. 2008.


Samaniego, Rodolfo. Personal interview. 1 Mar. 2008.


Sarandin, Karen. Personal interview. 27 Apr. 2008.


 “Twentieth Chick Hatches at Philippine Eagle Centre.” Philippine Eagle Foundation. 2006. April 2008 <http://www.philippineeagle.org/index?news_id=1&pageval=news>


White, Mel. “Philippine Eagles.” NationalGeographic. Feb. 2008. April 2008 <http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/02/philippine-eagles/mel-white-text>



table of contents...

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.