My decision to come to the Philippines was based solely on an irrational love for one of the world's smallest primates, the Philippine tarsier. Endemic to Bohol, parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, this rodent-like animal with enormous beady eyes is currently classified as endangered. Years of poaching to sell the cute furry balls to Japan as pets had backfired – the tarsiers are social animals and, if kept alone in their cages, gruesomely commit suicide by bashing their heads against the bars. They only have one baby per year, and numbers were precariously low, until the Philippine government gave them a protected status. Now one of the biggest tourist draws to Bohol, the tarsier's population has inched upward somewhat but it remains endangered - only 10 of them live in the Tarsier Sanctuary. Having called every zoo association in North America and found them tarsier-less (and, frankly, a little bit confused about why a grown woman was looking for them), I decided (somewhere between Siberia and Mongolia) that on this insane jaunt around the world, the Philippines would have to be on my list.
Bohol Island, The Visayas
One of the best things about having a baby brother who can finish your sentences is that he doesn't need to be told how wholeheartedly awesome it would be to travel together, let alone for the sole purpose of chasing down a miniature rodent. Currently employed by the government of Canada, Cale had a conference in Oz and managed to finagle 2 weeks vacation time thereafter. Of course, it would have been a lot easier for us to meet in Oz given his time constraints, but the lure of The Story was too big to ignore, and we were both excited to meet up somewhere totally different and much more out of the way. Insert parental eye-rolling here.
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