Viral: Animal caretaker’s selfie with Philippine Eagle, P1,000 bill

July 29, 2023 - 5:36 PM
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Lohwana Halaq, trained the Philippine eagle. (Screenshot from Lohwana Halaq's TikTok account)

At the Philippine Eagle Foundation, Filipino-Canadian animal caretaker Lohwana Halaq has trained the country’s very own national eagle, the Philippine Eagle, to fly. In her latest TikTok video on Tuesday, she poses with a Philippine Eagle while holding up a P1,000 bank note.

Every time visitors come by, she receives questions as to what the Philippine Eagle looks like, surprised that they don’t know it’s on the P1,000 bill.

Filipino visitors would also ask her where the Philippine Eagle is even though it is just right next to her, hanging around her arm.

“I am literally holding the Philippine Eagle on my arm. I look at them look at my eagle, Sinag, and look back at them and point out ‘You are staring at the Philippine Eagle’,” she narrated.

@lohwanahalaq 💰The Money Shot 💰 The head shot of the Philippine eagle species replaced the former 1000 peso bank note design of the three Filipino martyrs and civic rights actitivists of the resistance against the Japanese occupation of World War II. The Philippine eagle is the national bird of the Philippines 🇵🇭  and thus should recieve the recognition it deserves. From my experience working with these beautiful animals I can truthfully say that it shocks me much our own Filipino citizens do not know this eagle exists or what it even looks like. Despite its high profile status in media, culture and government. I’ve had many guest interactions in  which local Filipino visitors come up to ask me: “ma”am, nasaan ang Philippine agila?” , “ma,am where can I find the Philippine eagle?” … I am literally holding the Philippine Eagle on my arm…. I look at them look at my eagle, Sinag, and look back at them and point out “You are staring at the Philippine Eagle”… I have conservations with Filipinos abroad in Canada and I explain to them that I work and live in the Philippines as an Animal Keeper and I help breed the critically endangered Philippine eagle species. Many of them comment: “I did not know we have this eagle in the Philippines”…. my response usually is “did you even open your Filipino passport?” As the Philippine Eagle is also featured in the Filipino Governing passport. It is clear that awareness plays a crucial role in species conservation from local to international recognitions. Education is key. There is improvement, and progress may be is slow, but saving this species from extinction is worth it. #philippines🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭 #philippineeaglecenter #philippineeagles🦅🇵🇭 #capcut ♬ original sound – lohwanahalaq

Some Filipinos she interacted with abroad in Canada would also wonder the same thing. Again, Halaq is confused as to how they have not seen what a Philippine Eagle looks like, even though it is on their Philippine passport.

“It is clear that awareness plays a crucial role in species conservation from local to international recognition,” she said.

For Halaq, being an animal caretaker is worth it because saving the critically endangered such as the Philippine Eagle from extinction is part of preserving the country’s culture.

“Education is key,” she said. “There is improvement, and progress may be slow, but saving this species from extinction is worth it.”

Sinag, the Philippine eagle cared for by Halaq, was adopted in 2016 by the Philippine Airlines at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City.

The eagle is among the semen donors of the Philippine Eagle Conservation’s (PEC) breeding program to make his species less endangered. Once the eagles are successfully reproduced, trained and/or rehabilitated, the conservation will release the eagles back into the wild.

“It is imperative for the success of this species that the global community is aware and supporting all conservation efforts to avoid extinction. Let us not lose another world treasure due to human exploitation and apathy,” Halaq said.

According to the PEC, Halaq is also the first woman in history to flight train the Philippine Eagle.