Transcript of Remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan at the Launch of the Philippine Eagle Exhibition at Jurong Bird Park, 27 November 2019

27 November 2019

Honourable Ricardo Calderon, Assistant Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources


His Excellency Joseph Del Mar Yap, Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to Singapore


Mr S Dhanabalan, Chairman, Mandai Park Holdings


Mr Mike Barclay, Group CEO, Mandai Park Holdings


Mr Jamie Bautista, Vice Chairman of the Philippine Eagle Foundation


Ladies and Gentlemen


It is a wonderful morning to be here at the Jurong Bird Park for the launch of the Philippine Eagles exhibit, called “The King’s Fiesta”.


The launch of this exhibit showcasing the rare Philippines’ national bird is timely as Singapore and the Philippines celebrate our Golden Jubilee of bilateral diplomatic relations in 2019. It has been 50 years! We signed a landmark agreement in May for a pair of critically endangered eagles to be loaned to Singapore, as part of a 10-year renewable conservation breeding plan.


I am proud to say that Singapore is the first country in the world to host these majestic raptors under a breeding loan agreement. So thank you to the Philippines for trusting us with this mission. We welcomed the pair of eagles – Geothermica and Sambisig – to Singapore in June 2019. They have been here six months, and are settling in happily. I have been told that Philippine eagles have average wingspans of up to 7 feet – it is no surprise it is nicknamed “King Bird” or Haring Ibon Tagalog.


This collaboration between Wildlife Reserves Singapore and the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources is a wonderful opportunity to promote environmental conservation and biodiversity. It will raise awareness about the threats Philippine Eagles face in the wild. In fact, President Halimah Yacob, when she made her State Visit to the Philippines, visited the Philippine Eagle Centre in Davao City.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations, we also celebrate the excellent state of bilateral relations, with cooperation in many wide-ranging areas.


Bilateral economic cooperation is robust and growing.  Last year, Singapore was the Philippines’ top ASEAN trading partner and the 2nd largest foreign investor. This is a vote of confidence in the Philippines. I am glad to see that our businesses are keen to do even more in the Philippines. They are exploring new areas of cooperation such as agri-food trade and smart city initiatives.


Our people-to-people ties are also very strong. The thriving Filipino community in Singapore has contributed much to Singapore’s development, and our social and cultural diversity.  In July this year, Secretary Locsin and I launched the newly repainted Alkaff Bridge by the Singapore River. The refurbishment of the artwork by late Filipina artist Pacita Abad on the Bridge was completed with the support of the Philippine Embassy – and Joseph (Ambassador Del Mar Yap), I must thank you for that – and private citizens from our two countries. If you have not yet done so, please do go to the Singapore River to see this vibrant and colourful symbol of our strong friendship.


In closing, on behalf of Wildlife Reserves Singapore and my fellow Singaporeans, I would like to thank the Philippine government for your trust and for entrusting us with the care of the Philippine Eagles. We are honoured to host and care for Geothermica and Sambisig. They have travelled a long way with their special passports granted by the Philippine government.  I am happy to learn that they are settling in well here at Jurong Bird Park.


My only final wish for them, like for all Singaporeans, is to go forth and multiply.


Thank you.


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Caption: Minister Balakrishnan delivering his remarks at the launch of the Philippine Eagle exhibit at Jurong Bird Park.



Caption: Assistant Secretary Ricardo Calderon from the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources witnessing the handing over of the Philippine Eagles' passports to Minister Balakrishnan by Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Joseph Del Mar Yap.



Caption: Minister Balakrishnan viewing the Philippine Eagles in their enclosures at the Jurong Bird Park.


Caption: The Philippine Eagle Sambisig at the Jurong Bird Park


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