The winged ‘barangay captain’

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram, USJR Intern July 27,2018 - 10:01 PM

CDN photos/ Morexette Marie B. Erram

Aside from several cellphones, and a pile of paperwork that needed his signature, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña keeps a container filled with M&Ms on his office table at the Cebu City Hall.

But the chocolate candies are not only for his own consumption.

The mayor shares them with his favorite “barangay captain” who stays in his office with him greeting visitors all day long.

“M&Ms are his favorite food, as well as popcorn,” Osmeña told Cebu Daily News.

Kap is a yellow or sulphur-crested cockatoo (scientific name: Cacatua sulphurea) and a member of the three families of parrot birds.

This barangay captain, however, has feathers instead of hair, talons instead of nails, and has a beak for a mouth.

“Kap” is a yellow-crested cockatoo that keeps the mayor company.

In a talk with reporters, the mayor once recalled why he gave the name Kap to the bird, saying that the creature was the “barangay captain inside the Office of the Mayor.”

“He’s my most loyal barangay captain,” said Osmeña of the bird that is always present during meetings held at the mayor’s office.
Center of attraction

Kap is a yellow or sulphur-crested cockatoo (scientific name: Cacatua sulphurea) and a member of the three families of parrot birds.

Compared to their common green parrot cousins, cockatoos are several inches larger.

Cockatoos are notable not only for their vibrant-colored feathers but also for their ability to mimic human language and other noises around them.

In Kap’s case, he greets visitors and workers in Cebu City Hall from the desk of his owner with either his crude and nonchalant “pangit, pangit, pangit (ugly, ugly, ugly)” or a sweet and squeaky “hello” and “goodbye.”

For his funny antics, Kap never fails to be the center of attention.

In some instances, the bird would swoop down on Osmena’s table while in the middle of a press conference and grab everyone’s attention away from the mayor and momentarily to the winged-star.

“Feeling niya mura siyag tawo (He feels like he is a human being),” said Osmeña with a light laugh.

Kap joins in one of the regular press conferences inside the Mayor’s Office.

One for the ladies

Aside from the sweet, multi-colored chocolate candies and cheese-flavored popcorn the mayor feeds him regularly, Kap enjoys being around people as if he truly belonged.

But according to Osmeña, Kap was more fond of women.

There were even times,

Osmeña said, when not even his owner’s voice, or the chocolates lying on his palm, would steer the bird’s attention away from the ladies.

“He likes girls. I don’t know why but muduul gyud siya nila unya magpapansin (he would really approach them and try to get their attention) by
letting them scratch his head,” he said.

The ten-year-old cockatoo was a gift to Osmeña from his late cousin McCoy Lopez, “a long time ago” in Bacolod City.

“I kept him in the house but he does not seem comfortable in a cage, and there were dogs in the house. I was scared what might happen to him one day. So I put him in the zoo, and that’s where I kept him the longest time. Around eight years, I think,” Osmeña explained.

Kap’s stay at the Cebu City Zoo in Barangay Kalunasan ended when the mayor reclaimed the helm of the city government in 2016 and closed down the operations of the city zoo.

“I went to the zoo when it was closed and he still recognized me. I could still scratch his head. And I decided not to give him away,” said Osmeña.

The mayor revealed that keeping Kap inside a towering, eight-foot cage beside the elevator on the eighth floor of Cebu City Hall made the bird rather unhappy.

“He looked very unhealthy. So little by little, we let him climb outside a cage. Then I notice when I open the door, I go outside, he goes back inside,” said Osmena.

“At home ni siya (He feels right at home here). Now I decided to keep him here. I was worried that he would start eating the furniture but so far he only started to eat the door,” Osmeña added.

From then on, a visit to the mayor would not be complete without the wide-eyed bird. /  USJR Intern Gerard Vincent Francisco

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TAGS: barangay, captain

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