Meet Floyd Bermejo, the Photographer Behind the Philippine Eagle on the P1,000 Banknote

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Floyd Pison Bermejo is the photographer behind the Philippine eagle on the new P1,000 polymer banknote. He is a wildlife photographer and professional pilot.

In an interview with Manila Bulletin on May 3, 2022, Floyd shared his experiences as a wildlife photographer and how he photographed the Philippine Eagle.

He has been a wildlife photographer for eight years.

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“I joined Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines in 2014. My friends from Negros formed Negros Bird Conservation Society in 2017. In 2018, I joined Robert S Kennedy Bird Conservancy.”

Capturing a photo of the Philippine eagle was on his wish list

Floyd has a passion for wild bird photography, and since 2014 he has been listing the birds in the forest he would like to photograph.

“The Philippine eagle is at the top of the list. Aside from being our National Bird, the Philippine eagle [Pithecophaga jefferyi] is the largest bird of prey here in our country—and the most beautiful, if I may say so.

“It’s the world’s rarest eagle. No wonder wild bird photographers, both local and foreign, desire to have a photograph of the Haring Ibon [Haribon] in the wild.”

In 2017, he traveled to Davao just to take a picture of the Philippine eagle.

Floyd remembered what the group had told him about the beauty of the eagle.

“My fellow photographers mentioned that seeing the 'Haribon' in the wild for the first time could mesmerize you with its beauty.

“They added that you’ll be in so much awe that you might end up just staring and forget to use your camera to capture its beauty.”

Preparing for the shoot

What Floyd did was he first visited the Philippine Eagle Center managed by the Philippine Eagle Foundation to get acquainted with the bird.

He saw four free Philippine Eagles at the Philippine Eagle Center.

“I stayed with Imbulog because, for me, he is the most photogenic.”

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Imbulog is one of the captive-bred Philippine Eagles at the Center.

Floyd also researched the behavior of the Philippine eagle.

“I wanted to photograph it with its crest up. I also checked the photos of other photographers for inspiration and to plan how I could present mine differently.

“I learned that Philippine eagles raise their crests when they are excited. In captivity, they get excited when they see their handlers bringing food.

“So whenever I would notice a handler about to walk in front of the eagle, I would prepare to get the shot that I wanted.”

He also figured out which shot he wanted and how he should shoot it.

“For the Philippine eagle, I wanted to portray it as a fierce hunter but at the same time a gentle creature of God. I wanted it to have a crest that is slightly raised, looking a bit down and a little to the right of my lens.”

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He took pictures of Imbulog for two hours.

He explained, “In those moments, I kept looking at his beautiful blue eyes and wondered why someone would harm such a wonderful creature. Why they would ever want to destroy its kingdom?

“It was then that I promised myself to do whatever I can to save our national bird from all kinds of threats. Through my photographs, I hope people would be aware that we have so many marvelous endemic species that need protection from extinction.”

The BSP used the photo for free

According to Floyd, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas saw his shots on the Internet, and they contacted him via Facebook.

“A year ago, they asked me if they could use my photo for a commemorative banknote that will be released sometime in April 2022.”

Floyd let the BSP use it, "I realized that it will be part of history, I gave it for free."

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He said he could not explain the joy he feels now that his shot of the Philippine eagle has been immortalized.

“Actually, I still think that I am dreaming. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am so honored.

“I felt more excited when I saw in the news that it would be used in a paper bill for circulation and not just in a commemorative banknote. What a way to spread awareness about our national bird.”

Floyd's collection of wildlife shots can be seen on his Instagram: @nature.priority, website: www.floydpisonbermejo.com, and Facebook page: Nature Priority by Floyd P Bermejo.

FromPEP.ph

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