While many animal-oriented events are organized in and around Metro Manila, Gagambang Barako I was held in Calabarzon and was a success, showing that there are many keepers and hobbyists outside Greater Metro Manila and that exotic pet keeping is a continuously growing hobby. It also showed that people are willing to travel for such events. Visitors to Gagambang Barako I were given the chance to observe these creatures in action. Aimed at educating people about exotic pets, event organizers were pleased to note that revulsion for these creatures is slowly on the wane; people are learning that they are not as dangerous or scary as fictional stories suggest. Tarantulas, scorpions, roaches, and snakes are creatures with a purpose and ecological niche in the wild. Who best to drive the point home than those with the dedication to care for them and provide for their specific needs?

The recent event organized by the Batangas Tarantula Keepers group took place in Lipa, Batangas and was an exhibit of exotic pets and their enclosure setups. Attendees got to see the enclosure setup competition, with two categories: arboreal, for tree-dwelling animals, and terrestrial, for land dwelling animals. Displays had to be suitable for tarantulas, scorpions, or other animals. Booth exhibitors (some with specimens for sale) who were also sponsors and supporters included Live Fish Bait, Boa Keepers Philippines, Team Shoot Fighter, Tarantu Boys, Fish and Styles, The Pet Depot, Laguna Exotic Keepers Association, and Philippine Tarantula Keepers. Other activities included a videoke challenge open to all attendees, with uncommon tarantulas and scorpions given to the winners. A “Pinoy Henyo” style competition also livened up the proceedings, as did raffle draws featuring prizes from booth participants and sponsors.

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s August 2015 issue.