The portrait “Ang Banog: Haring Ibon,” shot by renowned Filipino bird photographer and Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Alain Pascua, graces the cover of the book All the Birds of the World.
Published by Spain-based firm Lynx Edicions, the book aims to introduce 11,524 types of birds to a broader public in an easy-to-use volume.
Last January, Lynx Edicions editor Jose Luis Copete asked Pascua through email if “Ang Banog” is available for publication.
After an affirmative answer from Pascua, the publishing house chose the photo as it “conveys a clear conservationist message.”
Getting the shot
The majestic photo of the Philippine Eagle may now be famous, but only Pascua went through the tedious process before getting the right shot.
“I spent the whole day at the breeding center, patiently waited for visitors to come,” he revealed in his book Haring Ibon: The Great Philippine Eagle.
The wait paid off as Pascua got the best shot to immortalize the national bird on 11 June 2010, the eve of the 112th Philippine Independence Day.
Since it was first noticed during the First Asian Bird Festival, “Ang Banog” quickly gained popularity as a symbol of saving endangered species in photography exhibits and organizations.
But Pascua’s masterpiece is susceptible to intellectual property violations.
“Ang Banog” has been featured without Pascua’s knowledge.
In June 2015, it was used in a stamp by the Postal Service of Cuba which also mislabeled the scientific name of the Philippine Eagle.
Pascua immediately acted and the president of the Cuban Postal Service, Carlos Asencio Valerino, replied nine months later with an apology, but there was no concrete reparation following the fiasco.
In any case, this work of art remains not only as a top symbol of conservation of endangered species, but it also elevates Filipino culture that is woven into nature.
“The portraits of the Philippine Eagle stand as rallying images in raising greater awareness of the bird’s significance, encouraging its conservation not only in the Philippines but throughout the world,” Pascua said.