One thing I didn't mention in my previous post is that endemic species in the rainforest are especially resistant to introduced species, which are species brought to an island by people. Often times, introduced species, like the brown tree snake in Guam and cats on Mauritius, wreak havoc on endemic species and drive them to extinction. This is harder to do in a tropical rainforest. Like I said earlier the rainforest ecosystem is especailly severe, yet the environment (climate...) is relatively stable so animals living in the rainforest have evolved to be exceptionally suited to it, making it harder for introduced species to survive. That is why the Philippines is still one of the most biodiverse areas of the world despite a lot of forest destruction. The endemic birds have a strong culture of their own.
However, the success of the endemic bird species have not been replicated by the people of the Philippines. While the endemic birds have kept whats unique to them alive, the people of the Philippines, sadly, have not in general. The endemic island cultures have been mostly wiped out by introduced cultural elements, in the form or McDonald's, KFC, Pepsi, you name it. These introduced cultural "species" or memes have driven indigenous Philippine culture nearly to extinction. The island's history gives us a hint on that.
SInce Magellan, who was killed here in the 16th century, the island was first in Spanish control, then American, then Japanese, and then largely American again. Add to that, crooks like the Marcos family that have nothing but taken from the island, and a population that the island can't sustain (in every house in every village we saw 5-6 kids), and what you have left isn't much. It has become a land where you just can't find the endemic, unique culture anymore. It is easier to find the Celestial Monarch bird, than it is to find something truly unique to the Philippines.
It seems like American marketing campaigns that are past their time in the US, go to the Philippines to find new life (who sees Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar in the US anymore? They are in the Philippines). Their famous Jeepneys are a proof of the same phenomenon. This was the sad part of the trip, and it doesn't end there.
The end is the destruction of the rainforest. The introduced human culture now, in turn, is wiping out the forest and eliminating the endemic animal culture that's done a much better job remaining true to itself than the people. Unfortunately, if you cut all the trees a bird eats on that bird goes extinct. Some birds are so rare now, that it takes an expert like Tim Fisher to find them. So at the end of the day, the one thing that's stayed unique to the Philippines is being wiped out by the on thing that's not stayed unique to the Philippines.
The next post will have our top 10 photos of birds.