Monkeys beg for food on highway in Maguindanao

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao (MindaNews/09 February) – Has the long dry spell or El Nino phenomenon affected even monkeys?

On Monday afternoon, some 20 monkeys which looked hungry were seen begging for food from motorists and locals on the highway of this town.

Among the motorists was a certain Mr. Aranias, a government employee who was passing by aboard a motorcycle with his son and daughter.

They stopped for a while, pulled out some pandesal (bread) and gave it to the monkeys.

Other monkeys were seen on top of coconut trees harvesting young fruits to eat.

“They come closer to people now, so we give them food and take photos of them,” Aranias said.

“Clearly, they are asking for food…they don’t attack humans but we are careful, my children were glad to see them, so rare at this time,” he said.

Residents noted that the sighting of the monkeys coincided with the Lunar New Year, the start of the Year of the Fire Monkey, according to Chinese belief.

But Aranias said he shared food not because he was expecting something in return as New Year blessing but because “they are endangered species, it is rare to see them here. It’s up to the Almighty to bless us on what we do on earth.”

He said he hopes the government would protect these animals.

“Lately they are seen on the highway. Before they stayed up there (mountains) and never came close to humans,” Kagi Ali, a resident nearby said.

The animals, including their offspring, were seen crisscrossing the highways unmindful of speeding vehicles.

Last year, two young monkeys were seen lying dead just beside the highway after being hit by vehicles.

A monkey who survived was seen gently touching its dead companions as if in mourning.

Sports enthusiast and nature lover, Vice Mayor Datu King Jhazzer Mangudadatu expressed concern that the wild animals might become extinct.

He said will put a signage with the warning “wild monkey crossing area” to inform motorists that they must slow down along the curve of the highway in this town.

“We have to respect other creatures too, and I’m glad Maguindanaons had never hunted or eaten these creatures unlike other places in the country where some people or natives tend to eat these mammals,” Mangudadatu said. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)