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Philippines as the country with the world’s largest bats

“The Philippines has 79 recorded bat species, half of them endemic,” explains Dr. Mariano Roy Duya of the University of the Philippines Institute of Biology (UPIB). North America, with a land area that is 66 times larger – has but 45. We have an incredible diversity of bats since each of our 7100 islands is geographically unique. And of course, we have the largest bat of all.”

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By Gregg Yan

Did you know that the largest bat of all is found only in the Philippines? Planet Earth has 1400 known bat species and the Golden-crowned Flying Fox (Acerodon jubatus) earns the top spot for size and weight. Known locally as kabog, it is endemic or found nowhere else but in the Philippines.

Strikingly patterned with a golden cap, reddish fur and chocolate-brown wings, adults weigh over a kilogram and can boast of a wingspan nearly two meters across – longer than most people are tall.

“The Philippines has 79 recorded bat species, half of them endemic,” explains Dr. Mariano Roy Duya of the University of the Philippines Institute of Biology (UPIB). North America, with a land area that is 66 times larger – has but 45. We have an incredible diversity of bats since each of our 7100 islands is geographically unique. And of course, we have the largest bat of all.”

Once widespread throughout undisturbed lowland forests across the country, hunting and deforestation – particularly from slash-and-burn upland farming or kaingin – have whittled down bat populations.

Dumaguete-based filmmaker Rhiyad Maturan and I were recently invited by the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) to film a thriving kabog colony inside the Bacon-Manito Geothermal Project, a heavily forested geothermal reservation nestled between the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon on the island of Luzon. Though the area is now verdant and alive, it wasn’t always so.

“Believe it or not, that entire mountain range was once logged-over,” says Ed Jimenez, corporate relations head for EDC’s Bacon-Manito Geothermal Project, pointing at well-forested hills nearby. “The only trees left were the ones loggers ignored. To bring the mountains back to life, we worked with the local communities to help reforest this area while providing them with an alternative source of income. Decades later, the organizations we helped form, like the Alliance of Bacman Farmer’s Association Inc. Agriculture Cooperative (formerly ALBAFAI) and the Bacman Host Community Multi-purpose Cooperative (BMPC), have become some of our most passionate champions. Even the grandchildren of the original members are helping us plant trees, promote community-based conservation and protect these forests.”

Aside from bats, Bicol’s forests also shelter wild deer, pigs, monkeys and birds – most of which were driven to remote areas by decades of hunting and forest loss.

“I learned to shoot kabog with an airgun when I was still a kid,” recalls Joseph ‘Doy’ Gabion, a former bat hunter. “Bats are easy to hunt by day because they hang upside down from their roosts. When the roosts were eventually protected by EDC and its conservation partners, we hunters had to wait until the bats flew out to their feeding grounds. Back in the 1990s, my uncle and I would wait for them to pass to be able to catch two or three bats a night. Kabog meat has a slightly woody taste.” Doy has since stopped hunting and now volunteers with the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ CAFGU Active Auxiliary Unit II to help protect the very animals he once hunted.

The kabog colony moves from one area to another within the Bacman reservation and we chanced upon them roosting on a grove of pine-like Agoho (Casuarina spp.) trees. “We have about 700 kabog individuals here now, our flagship fauna species for this site,” explains Forester Neil Miras, EDC Bacman’s watershed management officer.

Representing iconic wildlife found in its geothermal, solar and wind sites, EDC’s Flagship Species Initiative (FSI) aims to popularize some of the nation’s lesser-known forest denizens. The eight other flagship species include the Philippine Warty Pig (Sus philippensis)Visayan Hornbill (Penelopides panini)Apo Myna (Goodfellowia miranda), plus native trees like Mapilig (Xanthostemon bracteatus), Katmon Bayani (Dillenia megalantha), Red Lauan (Shorea negrosensis),Almaciga (Agathis philippinensis)andIgem-dagat (Podocarpus costalis). EDC has been planting native trees across the country since the 1980s.

“Though millions of trees have been planted under the BINHI Program, we should still recognize the importance and effectiveness of natural seed dispersion – either by the wind, water or by local wildlife,” explainsForester Abegail Gatdula, EDC-FSI project manager. “Flying animals like birds and bats eat the fruits of various forest trees and disperse them far and wide within life-giving guano bombs, giving the seeds a vital headstart.”  

Though not as popular as the Tamaraw or Philippine Eagle, the kabog has been quietly doing its part to make the Philippines greener. “Think of them as the ‘silent seed planters’ of nature. We never pay them but they keep working for our world,” concludes Jean Dayap, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) of Manito in Albay.  

So tonight, please look up at the night sky to thank our uncelebrated wildlife heroes, quietly working the night shift to make the Philippines a little greener – one guano bomb at a time.

Watch our Golden-crowned Flying Fox documentary HERE.

Believing that everyone's perspective is important, Zest Magazine has opted to provide an avenue for these perspectives to be known. care to hear the publication's contributing writers; or better yet, do some contributing yourself by contacting info@zestmag.com.

Destinations

Fisher Mall launches first roller skating rink in Malabon

Malabon’s first and premier roller skating destination. Located on the 4th floor of Fisher Mall Malabon, RollerDisco combines the energy of roller skating and the nostalgia of disco, offering an opportunity for everyone to create lasting memories with family and friends.

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Promising an exhilarating experience for all ages, Fisher Mall is opening the newest location of RollerDisco, Malabon’s first and premier roller skating destination. Located on the 4th floor of Fisher Mall Malabon, RollerDisco combines the energy of roller skating and the nostalgia of disco, offering an opportunity for everyone to create lasting memories with family and friends. 

“Roller skating brings back memories of my father teaching me how to skate at rinks in Frontier and Baguio,” shares Raymond Del Rosario, President of Fisher Mall Group of Companies. “Our team wanted to bring similar experiences to everyone here at Fisher Mall. Since the opening of RollerDisco back in 2021, we’ve seen a demand given the passionate responses we’ve received from skating communities, enthusiasts, and beginners. We wanted to improve their experience further through our new venue, which we hope will provide more joy and fulfillment.” 

The new RollerDisco venue features the renowned engineered wood flooring and beloved 80’s retro vibes that patrons have come to love. Visitors can also expect colorful neon lights that pulse to the beat of lively disco music, with mirror balls and retro-themed artwork adorning the walls to enhance the vibrant and energetic vibe of the space. 

The rise of e-commerce in the evolving retail landscape has challenged the relevance of traditional retail spaces. Colliers, a leading company specializing in property management, urged mall operators to leverage on the unique advantage of physical retail: enhanced customer experience. There is a need for retail spaces to establish itself as a third space for consumers to enjoy quality entertainment. 

RollerDisco is just one example of Fisher Mall’s response to this. Identifying the need to reinvent retail, the company transformed traditional retail spaces into dynamic community hubs by offering a unique blend of entertainment and social interaction. Fisher Mall regularly hosts events and programs that invite the community to interact with each other and participate in activities that enrich their lives, from creative exhibits to outreach events. These initiatives aim to foster a sense of unity and collaboration among residents while providing a diverse range of experiences that extend beyond typical shopping experiences.

Visitors of all ages skate to the lively music. 

At the heart of Fisher Mall RollerDisco is its mission to serve as a platform for self-expression and creativity, aiming to enhance community well-being and happiness through the promotion of an active lifestyle and positive social interactions. 

“As we transform retail spaces, Fisher Mall strives to create an engaging environment that resonates with today’s consumers,” concludes Del Rosario. “Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a beginner, we invite you to join us at Fisher Mall Malabon RollerDisco for an unforgettable roller skating experience.”

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Travel

Visa kicks off summer in Paris

Post Malone will headline the first-of-its-kind performance, also featuring a diverse group of superstars from around the globe. This unprecedented performance will take place on May 28, 2024 at 7:30 PM local time.

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Visa, a global player in digital payments, will connect music, art and culture by taking over the Cour Carrée of the Louvre Museum for a unique show called “Visa Live at the Louvre.” Post Malone will headline the first-of-its-kind performance, also featuring a diverse group of superstars from around the globe. This unprecedented performance will take place on May 28, 2024 at 7:30 PM local time, and will be the first global IRL concert streamed exclusively on Roblox at 9PM local time/3PM EDT.

“Visa Live at le Louvre is an event of many firsts. It is Visa’s first major activation leading up to a memorable summer in Paris, which will also host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It’s the first concert of its kind at the Cour Carée, and the first global in-person concert streamed exclusively on Roblox. Post Malone’s live performance at Musée du Louvre and virtually in Roblox provides fans with a unique experience of music, art and technology that is both innovative and entertaining,” said Frank Cooper, CMO, Visa.

As the curtain rises on an exhilarating summer in Paris, Visa is delighted to propel the realms of arts, music and culture forward, embracing inclusivity at every step.

HeadlinerPost Malone is a 9x RIAA diamond-certified and GRAMMY Award-nominated phenomenon who is widely acclaimed for his ability to blend different styles.

Starting in early May, residents of Metropolitan France will be able to enter an online lottery for tickets, and the rest of the world will be invited to join in via Roblox. Fans can get the latest information at visa.com/LiveatleLouvre.

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Travel

On the road again? Choose the right tires for your ride

If you think it may be time to replace your tires, consider these five expert tips to simplify the process.

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Lots of people want to drive, definitely. But not everyone is well-versed with the cars they drive – e.g. many drivers have difficulty selecting the best tire for their vehicle and driving needs. For many, tire selection starts at the size then jumps to what’s in stock or what’s on sale. However, there are many factors to consider when you need new tires for your car, truck or SUV. Buying tires is an investment, so it’s important to make the right decision.

You may be surprised to learn determining the best tire is as much about the driver as it is the vehicle. Choosing the right tire requires considering where you drive, how you drive and what you drive. You can explore these and other factors in the Treadwell tire-buying recommendation tool, which is based on a decade of data and real-world test results.

This tire recommendation tool combines millions of data points from tire safety checks and Discount Tire’s own test track where intensive tests are performed on tires from all major manufacturers, along with the driver’s location, vehicle and driving habits, to generate a selection of personalized tire recommendations from a variety of brands.

With more than 20,000 different models of tires available for the everyday driver, it’s no wonder tire-buying can be a mystifying process. However, tools like this can help drivers make the most informed choice while having access to the same information tire technicians use in-stores alongside their expertise. The result: empowering drivers with information and options tailored to their needs.

If you think it may be time to replace your tires, consider these five expert tips to simplify the process.

Driving Style

The type of driver you are, the kind of ride you want and how long you expect your tires to last are all factors in choosing the right tires. For example, thrill drivers might prefer tires with high levels of grip and responsiveness while those who stick to long road trips are better suited for long-lasting, smooth riding tires.

Weather Conditions

Your location and the weather you regularly encounter when you drive influence the type of tires you need. For example, drivers in the upper Midwest require tires that perform well in extreme cold and winter weather while those in humid climates like the Southeast need tires that perform well in wet conditions.

Budget

Purchasing tires is an investment. Drivers should look at the cost of their tires over time, rather than the cost up front. In the long run, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a higher quality tire based on multiple factors like increased safety, improved handling and ride quality, as well as cost per mile.

Vehicle Specifications

Tire specifications can vary depending on the type of car you own. For electric vehicles and vehicles carrying heavy loads, it’s critical to know how much weight your tires can safely support. Only install tires that meet or exceed the load requirements for your ride.

Wear and Age

Two of the most important considerations when replacing tires are tread depth and tire age.

Your tires’ tread depth directly impacts your vehicle’s ability to stop. Tires are reaching the end of their life at 4/32 inches of tread. However, your tires may be underperforming even if more tread remains, particularly in rain or extreme weather conditions.

When it comes to replacing your tires, you should also consider their age. Because the materials used break down over time, experts recommend replacing tires that are six years or more past the date of manufacture.

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