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5th Ibong Dayo Festival | A Well "Feathered" Festivity in Balanga City

Balanga City have just got its perfect reason to continue the advocacy on the protection and conservation of its God given natural wealth!

As the saying goes, the best time to conserve our environment was 50 years ago and the second best would be now!

Balanga, a lone city of Bataan is not wasting a single minute on being watchful of their environment. As a proof, the city took a great effort on the dissemination of information through festivities to conserve the remaining resources that is left in the city. One of these is the Ibong Dayo Festival.

Mangrove forest and the mudflats in Brgy. Tortugas, Balanga City
Few years ago, the residents of Tortugas have noticed the increase of the migratory birds flocking in their coastal areas that peaked on the months of January and February. Some of the populations even settled in the vast mangrove forest of the coastal community and seems have no plan of leaving the place ever since. 

Some people's organizations have shown concern on the impact of the migratory birds and have come up in consensus to protect the migratory birds rather than purge the avian community away. They have learned that man and migratory birds can exist mutually. Now, the wetland have become one of the hottest bird watching sites in the Philippines with more than 50 bird species and a total population of 25,935 based on the bird census in 2014.

Whiskered Terns flock on the mangrove trees of Balanga City
As  interests have grown in the wetland area and its migratory birds, the local government of Balanga came up with an artistic way to promote the importance and protection of the migratory birds and its habitat through a festival, giving birth to Ibong Dayo Festival in December 2010 (official). 

Now on its 5th year, the city of Balanga headed by their chief executive  Joet Garcia and the City and Provincial Tourism Offices,  set off the festival at the Wetland and Nature Park in Barangay Tortugas. This annual festivity is embraced by the city dwellers by participating on various eco-programs engineered by the city tourism office.  

People dancing on the beat of the festive music during the 5th Ibong Dayo Festival
The celebration started with the proud testaments from local residents and barangay officials how the preservation has benefited them from the protection of the migratory birds and its lone habitat, the mangrove forest. 

The festivity was even fortified with the strong support of the officers and members of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) with the presence of Mike Lu and Carmelita EspaƱola as this year’s guest speaker.

Residents have learned that to protect the migratory birds means also protecting its nesting ground, the mangrove forest.  And during the festival, the people of Balanga have demonstrated a tree planting effort in the vicinity of the conservation site, increasing the area of the mangrove forest to accommodate the swelling population of the migratory birds. 

Kapak, a smoked fish from Balanga City
To make this festivity even more effective and adhering strong to its noble mission, the LGU tapped the youth to showcase their interpretation of the  festival with their gigantic mascots, dances and other forms of art.

The Ibong Dayo Festival was highlighted by some dance exhibition and performances of students coming from various schools in the city. The beachfront ground of the Wetland and Nature Park was filled with feathered costumes representing a particular species of migratory bird.

Spectators witnessing the event have sensed the pride of the people on how they championed the conservation effort through the collaboration of government offices and private sectors. 

It was also an amazing observation that would make everyone proud on how these young minds, the youth of Balanga have known at least the ecological importance of the bird population in their environment, a type of environmental education that is lacking from the other places in the Philippines. 

In support to this festival, even the winning contingents of Pawikan Festival dance competition roamed the grounds of the Tortugas with their festive dance routine, rocking everyone in amusement.

The residents of Balanga also took the opportunity to share with its visitors their home grown aqua-marine products like the famous and my favorite smoked fish known as Kapak,  boneless bagoong (fish paste), toyo flakes, shrimp paste, krispy fried anchovies and the likes. 

Aside from the marine products, the city also promotes the use of organic fertilizers on agricultural crops and produce to lessen the impact of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on the coastal waters of Balanga.

Balanga is a blessed city to be chosen by the migratory birds as its temporary shelter. The presence of these migratory birds only proved the rich and resilient environment of Balanga that could accommodate its ecological requirements to survive while in temporary migration.

The promotion and the conservation effort on the migratory birds in Balanga City is a proof of partial success in achieving sustainability. This festivity is a model of environmental initiative that we hope could be replicated by other cities or municipalities at least in the Philippines. Efforts like this may not be simple but a single step through people’s initiative with the support of willful local government officials would lead to a better and livable "home". With that, I salute the people behind this great movement! Kudos to Ibong Dayo, Kaibigan Tayo!

Mabuhay Bataan!


  • There is an Information Center & Exhibit Area and Viewing decks at the wetland and nature park (look for Ms. Lolit or Allan)

  • You can enjoy the 5 minute audio-visual show about the park from:                               Mondays-Saturdays at 9:00am |11:00am | 1:00pm |3:00pm |5:00pm                                
    Sundays and Public Holidays at every hour from 9:00am to 5:00pm

  • Migratory birds are at peak on the months of January and February.

  • Bird watching is best enjoyed during the breaking of sunrise and before sunset.

  • Be sure to bring the most important gadget, binocular to witness birds in the nearby mangrove forest.

  • At the wetland you can have a simple picnic while enjoying the beautiful sunrise and sunset, so be sure to bring your camera.

For more information:

City of Balanga Tourism Office
Tel: (63) (047) 791-4008
Fax No. (63) (047) 237-2969

*Photos contributed by Kurt Ibanez of The Wind Trekker



  1. First time to hear about this festival and it seems masarap manood nito. Total community participation talaga. Love to this that Kapak (parang simpleng tinapa lang).

  2. Oh wow. That's a lot of bird species! No wonder there's a lot of both local and foreign tourists visiting to see the different species of migratory birds.

  3. I am a naturalist. In your thought presentation I was caught by a phrase "protection and conservation". If we do love our family and the family of our family, we should unqualifyingly (without condition) support this advocacy as long as we live to take care of our natural resources.

  4. It's nice that both pawikans and bird species have found their home in Bataan. This can really create Bataan as an ecotourism hub.

  5. Haven't witnessed festivals like these. Hopefully, I can see some soon! Looks like a festive activity! Awesome!

  6. I love festivals they are an expression of our culture and art...

  7. This sounds like a really fun and colorful festival! :)