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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

November 10, 2012


Thursday night of November 8, I had my recovery run inside Filinvest Corporate City Alabang.  

Joining me in this run was my blogger friend, Mau, who is focused on  training for her first full marathon. This place is proving to be  a favorite  among South-based runners due to its tree-lined asphalt roads with roving security guards. On that night, I found another thing that will attract green-minded runners.
This is the presence of fireflies (alitaptap in Tagalog, aniniput in Rinconada) in Filinvest.  Yup, you heard me right. There are fireflies  in this premier satellite city development in Muntinlupa.  

Galloping down the hill where Palms Country Club is nestled, we turned right on this small road parallel to the South Corporate Avenue.  This dark road leads us near the entrance of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). Along this road are ipil ipil trees.  And against this backdrop of the dark grove before me dots of magical  flashing light began to appear and  move sideways,  upwards and downwards. The fireflies or lightning bugs,  were out in the night time air. For a moment, this amazing sight transported me back to my childhood years in the rural barrio of San Agustin in Iriga of Camarines Sur, back to my fairy tale days when I believed the aniniputs to be fairies with tiny lanterns guiding them thru the darkness to each other. Back to my youthful innocence.
Filinvest Corporate City Alabang Map

Brief moment of nostalgia and back to scientific reality. Fireflies are classified under Lampyridae, a family of insects within the beetle order Coleoptera, or winged beetles. The insects, whose yellow glow is a product of protien intake and used as a mating call, live in unpolluted grass, busges and hedges. While most fireflies are characterized by their use of bioluminescence to attract mates and communicate with others in their species, not all insects within the firefly family produce light. Some communicate using pheromones, a sort of insect perfume.

Scientists consider fireflies a sign of a healthy ecosystem. I quote the  factual brief from Clemson University (http://www.clemson.edu/public/rec/baruch/firefly_survey.html) on this matter:

Fireflies are charismatic and reliable indicators of environmental health because their population density is correlated to the availability of healthy habitats (Kazama et al., 2009). A good firefly habitat is one that is moist, contains large amounts of natural organic matter (Wu and Perng, 2007). The habitat of fireflies is significantly impacted by urban development. For example, converting forested areas into open lawns, residential gardens, and agricultural field can change the structure of suitable habitats (Kazama et al., 2009; Juson et al., 2010). Indiscriminate use of insecticides in lawns and urban areas can kill many non-target insects, including fireflies. Pollution from commonly used chemicals (e.g., pesticides and fertilizer) and biological pollutants (e.g., pet waste) could also alter the quality of the habitat (Lee et al., 2008; Leong et al., 2007). Light can also be a source of pollution (Viviani et al., 2010). Strong, bright light can outshine firefly flashing and interfere with its mating behavior. All these factors work in concert to reduce the quantity and quality of habitat, thus reducing the density of fireflies. Therefore, the occurrence of firefly provides a visual clue on the quality of the natural environments.

I look at the website of Filinvest (http://www.filinvestcorpcity.com/) and its banner proudly proclaims – "Fast forward to the present: Filinvest Corporate City has single-handedly revitalized the Alabang area and transformed these 244 hectares into a premier satellite city and central business district. This flagship development of Filinvest Alabang, Inc. has indeed transformed the quality of life for all in the south."

Including the fireflies of the ipil ipil grove for they will certainly agree with this quality of life statement. They are making a comeback in this small pocket of  the  urban jungle.  

Life is proving to be resilient.


I hope the inspiring people behind the successful urban bike adventure that is Tour of the Fireflies (http://www.fireflybrigade.org/)gets to read about the fireflies in Filinvest. Some good news, specially with their 14th edition of the Tour of the Fireflies coming up this November 18.

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