By Izza Reynoso

TRAGIC DEATH. Rescuers from the El Nido Fire Station in Palawan’s resort town rappel down a cliff inside a cave system to recover the remains of a missing “busyador” on Friday (June 7, 2024). The victim, reported missing on June 4, was most likely gathering the main ingredient for bird’s nest soup when he fell to his death. (Photo courtesy of ENFS)

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan – Rescuers found the lifeless body of a “busyador” or bird’s nest gatherer inside a cave system in Tapiutan Island, Barangay Bebeladan, El Nido in this province on Friday.

Ismeraldo Daquer, 57, was reported missing on Tuesday.

In a report released late Friday, the El Nido Fire Station (ENFS) said Daquer plummeted to his death while trying to scale a cliff in an attempt to reach some bird nests inside the sprawling cave system.

Daquer was engaged in harvesting Palawan Swiftlet (Aerodramus palawanensis) nests, a dangerous yet traditional livelihood in the town valued for its contribution to the preparation of bird’s nest soup, a luxurious treat sought by tourists.

“The cave’s steep and jagged terrain made it difficult to access and navigate,” the ENFS report said.

It explained that the recovery effort took longer than expected because of the difficult terrain inside the cave, which was also prone to rockslides, causing the rescue crew to proceed with extra caution.

The ENFS said the incident highlights the inherent perils of Swiftlet nest harvesting, which it called “a crucial economic endeavor for numerous residents, yet one that entails substantial hazards due to the treacherous settings involved.” (PNA)