Department of Tourism MIMAROPA Regional Director Roberto Alabado III heaped praises for the people of Puerto Princesa City and the province of Palawan for saving the Philippine cockatoo or red vented cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) from the brink of extinction in the country.
Alabado, the guest of honor at the Tourism Gala and Awards night last Wednesday, mentioned that when he initially visited the city four years ago, he discovered that Puerto Princesa had a plethora of attractions to offer to tourists.
“Puerto Princesa is known for so many things. When I first went here, I saw that you have a lot to show. And you are very fortunate to be very close to nature,” Alabado said.
“Around four years ago, I went here and told myself that I will look for the Philippine Cockatoo although I know that I will have to travel again and it will take me hours. But to my surprise, when I went out of the resort to go to the beach, the Katala was there,” he exclaimed.
Alabado further stated that the bird, locally known as Katala, “symbolizes the heart of Puerto Princesa and Palawan.”
“You are the ones that saved the Katala. All over the Philippines, they were hunted down and almost went extinct. But because of you in this island, in this city, you saved the Katala from extinction,” he said.
Katala is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Data from the Katala Foundation shows that its population distribution in the Philippines was estimated to be between 1,000 and 4,000 individuals in 1994. By 2001, it was estimated that only 1,000 remained in the province, with the majority located on Rasa Island in Narra town, where 200 were recorded.
Since then, however, the Katala population in the province has started to grow, and they can now be frequently seen in forested areas of the city.
Meanwhile, Alabado stated that the Tourism Gala Night, which served as the culminating activity for Tourism Month celebration, is timely as it aligns with World Tourism Day, urging stakeholders to demonstrate that Palawan is indeed the best place to visit.
“We have been voted as the world’s best island and it is up for us to show why we are the best island in the world. And I am very confident that we are living it up to the expectations,” he said.
City Tourism Officer Demetrio Alvior Jr. on the other hand said the Tourism Month celebration has reached another milestone by reaching out to everyone and connecting them down to the secondary level of the industry which was temporarily shut down by the Covid-19 pandemic, .
“We have involved professionals in different fields in activities that foster camaraderie, friendship, socialization and healthy competitions as this is the real essence of embracing,” he said, stating that to welcome everyone is to embrace everyone.
“I believe that in receiving guests both foreign and domestic, we are actually embracing them, providing them their needs and wants with the highest quality of service to make them feel the warmth and genuine Puerto Princesans and Palaweños,” he added.