One of the strangest encounters I ever had was with a huge Philippine eagle, an endangered species. During a two-week visit to the Philippines, I worked on several UFO stories. One was about a daytime sighting on the country’s highest mountain, Mount Apo, located forty-five kilometers west of Davao City in Mindanao Province.
This case involved a young American raptor biologist from Northbrook, Illinois named Ron Krupa. He managed a conservation project three thousand feet up one side of Mount Apo that was designed to help save the eagle.
It was a three-year project in which he cared for half a dozen eagles, trying to breed them in captivity, and teach eagle behavior to local people so they could take over when he left.
A teenager named Johnny Lanzo assisted him as part of a work-study program at the local agricultural high school. The eagles lived in three huge screened-in enclosures about three stories tall and at times they were tethered to huge logs out in the open.
About eight o'clock on the morning of April 9, 1979, Ron and Johnny were standing near the logs, talking with a neighbor named Jesus “Susing” Babao, a coffee farmer. Two eagles named “Muslim” and “Diola” (pronounced Jew-la) were tethered to logs about twenty feet apart.
“I glanced toward Muslim and he was looking up in the sky,” said Ron. “Whenever they’re doing this, it usually indicates another raptor flying by. I looked up and, sure enough, there was a serpent eagle flying overhead.
“I started to look back at Muslim and Diola when all of a sudden I noticed a star-like object in the sky. It sparkled. I was fascinated.”
Ron pointed it out to Johnny and Susing, and after a few seconds looking around they saw it too. “They were amazed. They couldn’t understand it.”
Ron ran inside and got his binoculars. At first he thought he was looking at a balloon anywhere from forty to a hundred thousand feet high to the southeast. Then he propped the binoculars on a stick to steady them and get a better look. (At left, Johnny, Ron and Susing as they reenacted the sighting for me.)
“It actually had reflections on it, and it had an antenna that went directly toward the ground. On closer observation I could see another one sticking straight out, like going toward Davao. The antenna below had a light halfway in the center (see his sketch), and I noticed a flash every twenty to forty seconds, like a strobe light.”
Ron watched it for fifteen minutes or more, admitting he hogged the glasses so long that Johnny and Susing got bored and went inside to make coffee.
“All of a sudden this thing phased out,” Ron said. “It was like turning a dimmer switch down, almost disappearing. Then it flashed to full brightness and at exactly twenty minutes after eight it disappeared! I didn’t see it go anywhere. BLINK! It was gone.”
It sounded to me like an experimental balloon, but Ron didn’t think it was.
“I talked to the Air Force people and to other people around here and they say there’s nothing like that being put up in the Philippines… I just don’t see how or where it could have come from. Yet I don’t see how a balloon could just disappear either, be in your field of view one second and not be the next.”
After we finished talking about the sighting, Ron sat me down on a log near Diola. He took some photos and kept urging me to get closer to Diola, saying she wouldn’t hurt me. The closest I dared was about two feet.
Diola had to be three feet tall, sitting on that log with her massive claws and thick, muscular legs. She simply sat there with her head turned, staring at me for such a long time (left). She wasn’t awed at all. She never moved, never batted an eye. I got the feeling she was wondering what kind of tasty morsel I’d make. (Below, Ron gets Diola to spread her wings.)
Ron had one other little bit of entertainment that was even scarier. He kept a captured cobra in a jar that he showed us. It was young and maybe no more than six or seven inches long, but it was as deadly as a full-grown cobra.
Donning a huge, very thick leather glove, Ron dumped it out on the floor. Three or four other people were with us and we all jumped on chairs and boxes and anything handy to get out of its way.
The cobra instantly sat up on its hind legs, so to speak, fanned its head out in defense, and it was scary indeed. Ron quickly caught it and put it back in the bottle before any of us could have a heart attack.
I’d first met and talked with Ron in Davao city that morning but we had to go to the eagle camp to interview Johnny and Susing. On the drive up the mountainside we passed a small cross on a curve standing almost in the road.
Militant Muslims in the province had been fighting against the government for years and some were operating in the Mount Apo area. Ron said rebels had executed a man on the spot where the cross stood, but that we weren’t in any danger. I believed him… until I met Diola and the cobra.
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Ron Krupa’s sighting was on April 1. I talked to him, Johnny and Susing on June 19. Back in Davao City the next day, I went to an army base, Camp Catitipan, and spoke to Colonel Pedrito De Guzman, deputy regional commander for operations. I had been told that he had had a UFO sighting.
“I saw something twice, in May and June, from my house near the airport,” the colonel said. “It was between seven and eight o'clock in the evening both times.
“It was a bright light coming from the east very fast and then when it got overhead it would stop and slowly maneuver around. It was very high, maybe four thousand to five thousand feet.
“I’ve flown in helicopters, so I know heights pretty well. I don’t know what it was. It was not a plane. It made no noise. There were several others with me both times.”