Errol Abada Gatumbato

The lion’s statue: An eyesore to the scenic view of Northern Negros Natural Park?

BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO

The prominent statue of a lion in the scenic upland municipality of Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental province is now

The statue of a lion in a scenic view of the Northern Negros Natural Park. Arvel Malubag Photo*

 getting the attention of visitors and passersby in the area.  It is becoming a popular landmark where visitors drop to pose for souvenir photos. Many photographs taken in the statue are posted in social media, particularly the Facebook.  Reportedly, the structure is within the 500-square meter-park and community center constructed by the Bacolod City Host Lions Club, in partnership with the Kaohsiung Port Lions Club in Taiwan and the Ichon Lions Club in South Korea. The 10-foot statue of a lion symbolizes the logo of the Lions Club International. While the intention of the three Lions Clubs is very noble in providing a community center, which is intended for medical missions, livelihood trainings, club retreats, and other projects for the residents of Don Salvador Benedicto, I can’t help but to ask why erect such a huge and high up figure of an exotic species in an environment where nature is on its best? There is no question that the Lions Club is entitled to be recognized for its good intention, through placing of its official logo at the site, but it should have been done with utmost sensitivity to the natural features of Don Salvador Benedicto, being part of the Northern Negros Natural Park.

Arvel Malubag Photo*

Some people may find the statue very interesting, but for me it is inappropriate to the otherwise beautiful and picturesque landscape of the area, especially so that its backdrop is the equally scenic NNNP, where numerous endemic species of the Philippines and Negros, in particular, are also found. I am not against lions because they are fascinating animals, threatened in their habitats, and need protection too, but it is to my opinion that their host countries will be responsible in promoting them, in the same way that we shall patronize our very own species.  When I posted online the photos of this statue, they draw several reactions some of which are hilarious. Lawyer Eli Gatanela of Bacolod City, upon noticing the photos, he commented, “The statue does not blend too well with the scenery. It is a kind of mismatch to the wonderful view of the verdant hills”. US-based Negrosanon and former tourism officer of the Department of Tourism in Negros Occidental also said, “This statue of a lion has absolutely nothing to do with neither environment nor conservation. It is a promotion of sort, whether it is becoming an eyesore, and destroys the background sceneries”. Gatia further opined that if the purpose of that structure is to capture more tourists to Don Salvador Benedicto, he thinks it is a bit way off because DSB will sell itself even without it. Conservationist Josef Sagemuller of Bacolod City even made a joke out of it by describing the statue as the newly discovered and highly endangered “Lion-Bulldog” because its appearance, according to him, seems to look like a combination of a lion and a bulldog.  Journalist and mass communication professor Alen del Carmen commented, “The park will be a nicer one minus the growling animal”.

The Northern Negros Natural Park is host to numerous endemic species of the Philippines. Some species recorded in the area are in

The NNNP forest is habitat to numerous endemic species. Sol Pedregosa Hospodarsky Photo*

 fact endemic only in Negros Island and in the West Visayas Bio-Geographic Zone. Endemic species, as defined in the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act or Republic Act 9147, are species or sub-species that naturally occur and found only within the specific areas in the Philippines. It is therefore comical to see a prominent statue of an exotic species in NNNP. Exotic species are those species or sub-species that do not naturally occur in the country, like Lions.   The faunal study of wildlife biologist Sol Pedregosa Hospodarsky, in 2009, attested to the biodiversity importance of NNNP, which is also included as one of the 128 Key Biodiversity Areas of the Philippines, as declared by the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, along with several international and other local institutions. Hospodarsky’s findings confirmed and validated earlier studies of the NNNP’s high endemic values, in spite that a large part of the protected area is already converted into other purposes, particularly permanent agriculture and settlement.

The Blue headed fantail was recorded in NNNP. Sol Pedregosa Hospodarsky Photo*

The survey, which was primarily supported by the Rufford Small Grants, Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, and other conservation institutions, has recorded a total of 90 bird species, 37 of which have been noted as endemic, with 57 endemic sub-species.  Six threatened species were listed in the study sites, according to Hospodarsky, three of these are categorized as endangered, namely, the Visayan tarictic hornbill, White-throated jungle flycatcher, and the Flame-templed babbler. Two other bird species, the Visayan flowerpecker and the White-winged cuckoo-shrike, classified as vulnerable under the threatened species of the IUCN-World Conservation Union, are further recorded in NNNP, including the near-threatened Philippine needletail.  NNNP has a total of 144 bird species recorded to date, while Negros Island has about 247 recorded bird species.  The study results show that 58.3% of birds listed in Negros Island is found in NNNP.  The same study of Hospodarsky claimed that there were eight bat species netted in NNNP, and five of these species are endemic. These species include the Philippine pygmy fruit bat, Harpy fruit bat, Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat, Musky fruit bat, and Philippine forest roundleaf bat.  A thick-thumbed pipistrelle (Glischropus tylopus), which was captured during the survey, is a new record for Negros Island. The study findings bring a total of 55 mammals listed in the island of Negros, and 30 of these recorded species are found in NNNP, Hospodarsky added.  It is interesting to note that almost 33% of the 55 mammal species found in Negros are endemic, while NNNP has 37% endemicity among the 30 mammalian species recorded in the protected area.

According to Hospodarsky, there are 11 endemic amphibian species listed in Negros, of which seven are Philippine endemic, three are Negros-Panay endemic, and one Negros endemic. Amazingly, out of these 11 endemic amphibian species, eight are recorded in NNNP. Similarly, 18 species of reptiles were recorded in NNNP, out of the 38 endemic reptile species listed for Negros Island. The endemicity of reptiles in Negros Island is quite biologically interesting because 33 are Philippine endemic, two are Negros-Panay endemic and three others are endemic only in Negros.  With the numerous endemic species found in NNNP, we need not to construct statues of exotic species in prominent areas.  What’s more important, however, is the protection of NNNP from destructive activities because statues of our endemic species are unnecessary if only they are secured in their habitats and we can see them freely in the wild.

January 25, 2011 - Posted by | Biodiversity Conservation, Ecosystems, Ecotourism, Forest Ecosystem, Protected Areas, Species Conservation

6 Comments »

  1. Toto Errol!!!…fantastic write up!!

    Comment by Edwin Gatia | January 25, 2011 | Reply

  2. Hi sir,

    I just pass to your page, and I have just started my website/Blog site…

    Im a member of Bacolod City Host Lions Club. Actually im the one who first started the construction of the Lions Park excluding the lion which was there already a year earlier, Im also an Environmental Planner/ Environmentalist.

    The construction of the Lions park and the Lion statue, passes thought public opinion, from the Barangay, sanggunian and to the office of the mayor and was voted majority from our club members before the construction started. The money to fund for the project was taken from charity and through contribution from our members.

    For our own and public(Facebook) opinion we have created our project for the good of the people Don Salvador and the environment.

    We ask you, why people taking pictures of the Lion statue and the Nature at its best in back ground and post it on there Facebook account? and why people didn’t post on there facebook a picture with no lion’s statue or the lion’s park just nature background?

    Ask your selves…, ask the public…, make conclusion. and keep it.

    Comment by Eugene R. Catalan | April 27, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you very much for your comment, Mr. Catalan. In the spirit of objectivity and fairness, I am posting your comment to respect your opinion in as much that I am standing with my own opinion in the article. There is no question as to the purity of intention and noble intention of the Lions Club, I fully recognized it in the article. Much more, I am not in disagreement that the Lions Club is entitled to be recognized for its efforts by placing the logo of the organization in the site. But I still believe that displaying a prominent statue of an exotic species in an environment where it does not exist is still inappropriate. With best wishes…

      Comment by Errol Abada Gatumbato | April 28, 2011 | Reply

  3. Agree with Errol. No doubt or question about how the Lions Club have been blessing people for decades now. My late grandparents were officers of the local club (Naga City) and their civic and charitable contributions were enormous.

    But the Negros statue does not blend with the natural scenery. Its present location does have a certain appeal, but can it be placed instead in a roadside stop or park. That way folks can still snap photos with it.

    Errol, while remaining ardent in the promotion of environmental purity, is fair, objective, and credible.

    Comment by P. G. | July 8, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you very much for visiting this site and the kind comment. With best wishes…

      Comment by Errol Abada Gatumbato | July 8, 2011 | Reply

  4. Granted that the artistic work leaves much to be desired and perhaps even the appropriateness is debatable, but an eyesore? I think it is not fair

    Comment by Antonio Uy | December 23, 2011 | Reply


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