I Finally Met the Bagwak (White-Breasted Waterhen)

While growing up in the province, older people would tell us children to pipe down, sometimes saying we all sounded like “bagwak,” though I never knew how it looked like. Until now.

I almost ran over this white-breasted waterhen. I thought it looked very similar to the Tikling — they both belong to the rail family.

Unlike the Tikling, which is quiet and discreet, this waterhen is very noisy, so that its local names are derived from the sound it makes – “tariwakwak,” “kuru-wakwak,” and, of course, “bagwak.”

It doesn’t look too bad, and, like children, better seen than heard.

I stopped the car, snapped this photo, and we went our separate ways. Only when I checked out its name that I realized I’ve finally met the “bagwak” of my childhood.

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