A flock of Philippine cockatoos is seen on a tree near the Princesa Garden Resort and Spa in Brgy. Bancao-Bancao, Puerto Princesa City. | Photo by Allen Shooter

The city environment office hopes to resume the international bird race this year after the COVID-19 outbreak disrupted it for three years.

Atty. Carlo B. Gomez, head of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO), said that the Puerto Princesa Underground River International Bird Photography Race will be held again on November 3 to 5, 2023.

This program began in 2015 and hosted roughly 100 teams in 2019. The bird race has been placed on pause for the last three years due to the pandemic and the recent devastation brought by Typhoon Odette.

“Tuloy tuloy ang bird race until 2019 when we last hosted. Very successful since maraming teams na ang umattend. Malalaki na ang venues natin. Napupuno na ang Princesa Garden,” he said.

“Tapos natigil tayo noong pandemic, then extended by Odette. Actually, pwede pa sana kaso after Odette talagang devastated, ‘yong 74% of our forest cover that was destroyed by Odette. Hinintay muna natin na mag regenerate o mag recuperate ‘yong forest natin, and I think this year we are ready,” Gomez added.

The project has been in preparation since 2022. New landscapes and challenges have been added to spice up this year’s event, with prize money ranging in the hundreds of thousands of pesos, he said.

The number of participants is unknown at this time and is currently facing challenges since other countries are still facing COVID restrictions. However, Gomez stated that this year’s event will also focus on the local version of the event.

“Ngayon parang ayaw ko muna mag expect much ng mga foreign participants. But target din natin sila,” he explained.

He stated that the proposed early registration will take place in March 2023.

Den Opiala, a senior high school student at Puerto Princesa City National Science High School, is one of five media interns at Palawan News under the Humanities and Social Sciences Work Immersion Program.