DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / Nov 20) – âWhen I married him, I knew he wasn’t just mine. He was such a great personality that I knew I had to share (this man who had) a lot of passion and plans.
This is how Olive Puentespina described her husband Roberto, known as Doc Bo, before her classmates at the University of the Philippines, most of the Los BaÃ±os campus.
Like many of Doc Bo’s colleagues, Olive recalled how passionate her husband was in his endeavors, especially during the days he volunteered as a Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) veterinarian.
In 1995, Olive recalls, about a week after the birth of their first son Roberto III, she couldn’t reach Doc Bo because he was with the Philippine Eagles.
Five years later, she was giving birth to their third child and could not reach Doc Bo as he was again at the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos. âI think there was a health audit. They would grab the eagle that is already inside the cage and examine its health.
The 57-year-old vet died of illness on November 15 in a private hospital.
Popularly known by his nickname Doc Bo, he provided medical services as a volunteer to help save the critically endangered Philippine eagles.
His efforts allowed the eagles to be released into the wild.
Doc Bo has also pioneered the use of birds and other animals in his âMalagos Bird Showâ on Sunday to raise awareness about environmental protection and climate change mitigation.
Domingo Tadena, former PEF Conservation Breeder Manager, also described Doc Bo as a very passionate vet, adding that they had shared many memorable moments.
Tadena, who had worked to save the eagles from 1978 to 2008, recalled that he first met Doc Bo at the first captive breeding camp in the hinterland of Baracatan in Toril district in mid-1980s.
âEstudiante pa sya sa una, niabot lang man na didto sa among kampo sa Baracatan sa una, naa pa gyud sya dala na long neck. Pero wala sya dala habol â(He was then a student. He arrived at our camp in Baracatan and brought a long neck (bottle of rum). But he did not bring any blankets), Tadena recalls with a chuckle.
He added that Doc Bo visited their camp to collect stool samples as part of his school requirements.
Since it was so risky to collect fecal samples during the day, Doc Bo spent a night at the camp so that he could collect the fecal samples. âAtakehon ka sa agila kung mosulod ka her cage na hayag pa. Kenanglan sa gabii gyud ka mosulod â(You will be attacked by eagles if you enter the cage during the day. You should go there at night), explained Tadena.
Since then, Doc Bo has been a volunteer until he became a veterinarian in 1991.
Tadena praised Doc Bo’s contribution in their efforts to save the Philippine Eagles, adding that they were able to hatch 21 eaglets with his support.
Back in the 1990s, Doc Bo was still there whenever they needed his services to care for eagles in captivity as well as those injured and rescued from the wild.
Tadena cited one of Doc Bo’s valuable efforts when he aided the PEF in rescuing an eagle named Marikit in Surigao in 1995.
He added that they airlifted the injured eagle using a military aircraft to that town for medical treatment.
Doc Bo applied a splint to the eagle’s fractured leg. âNa-ayo baya toâ (The healed eagle).
While saddened by the passing of Doc Bo, Tadena said he was grateful to have been able to work with him.
âKung has succeeded in hatching, apir-apir pud kami. Tapos pakals and tanduay dayon. Successful kung dili gani, uban pud kami didto hinilakay âIf the eagle hatching is successful, we would celebrate with Tanduay. If that doesn’t work, we cry together.
Anna Mae Sumaya, former PEF animal sitter, said Doc Bo was very passionate about his work.
âHe has never failed to impart lessons whenever we have cases. I will always remember him as a warm and compassionate person who always had great stories to share, âsaid Sumaya, who now works at a wildlife park in Dubai.
Olive described her husband as a visionary.
âHe taught me patience. Because he thinks so fast. His vision is greater than what he can do immediately. We must support him with his visions. Sometimes di pa nga namin nakikita eh. Saan ba papunta ito? Ganun sya ka bilis, âshe explained.
According to Olive, her husband created different communities outside of their family. âAnd he had different experiences and memories that I don’t even know. “
In 2017, Doc Bo created the Davao Thermo Biotech Corporation, a large-scale biodegradable fertilizer that uses hyperthermophilic composting technology.
This technology, originating in Japan, is the first in the Philippines.
He started the The Yellow Drum project, which aims to divert biodegradable waste even at the household level, from the landfill to their composting plant.
Doc Bo was one of the key figures of the UP Alumni Association in Davao. (MindaNews)