It has become a yearly pilgrimage: trek to the bird sanctuary in Candaba wetlands on the first week of November (last year I went there on November 1 - the All Saints Day feast), and wait for the sun to go down. Its a perfect day trip, watch the birds feed at sundown, and be rewarded with great sunset colors.
Candaba is home to wild migratory birds trying to escape the winter cold of the northern hemisphere, some just passing through, while some never left and made the wetlands their permanent abode.
Located between the towns of Baliuag and Candaba, the wetland is an ideal nesting ground for the birds. The road between the two towns is muddy at best, and every once in a while the swamp reclaims the road. There are no public transportation plying that route, who would when one day the road is there, the next its gone after a heavy rain. It was a perfect place for the birds, nobody is there to disturb them.
But maybe not for long.
The cemented highway is already half way through the swamp. Soon it will reach the town of Candaba. Soon there will be lots of vehicles that will be using that road. The sanctuary is also shrinking as more and more lands near the road are being used for farming.
This year I did not see much of the birds, I thought I came in the right season (Nov-Jan is supposed to be the "birding season").
There were a lot of people on the highway that afternoon, some working on the concreting of the road, some drying their palay. I decided to hike further into the swamp, about 1.5 km from the road, on a muddy trail. Not many birds along the way.
But what it lacked in birds this year, the swamp made up for by giving this surreal sunset colors. A few minutes before the sun went down, the dark rain clouds on the east suddenly gave off this otherworldly glow. It was as if someone shone a huge amber fog-light through the clouds. The place was suddenly flooded with this warm soft light. I've seen countless warm sunset, but nothing like this. For a moment I forgot that what I was supposedly shooting was the setting sun at the opposite direction.
Its a great feeling being lone in the middle of nowhere witnessing the day's curtain call. I would have stayed much longer but then reality kicked in: its getting dark and I have a long hike back (alone) to the main road.
Along the trail I could hear all sorts of noises - the squeaks and squawks and the rustling of the weeds as they sway with the soft evening breeze. The birds are still there, not in plain sight, but they are still there.
After reaching the highway, I still have to walk a few kilometers to the nearest barangay to get a ride to the town of Baliuag. I purposely did not arrange for a pick-up, I was actually looking forward to this long "Candaba walk". The moon was up and the evening breeze was refreshing. Perfect conditions for an evening stroll.