This is part 3 of my series on our summer vacation in Metro Manila entitled Summer Gateway 2008 . Day 3 of our vacation (April 11, 2008) was spent at the Manila Ocean Park watching the Wanders show at PAGCOR. (Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation)
Our first agenda of the day was to visit the newly built Manila Ocean Park. Finally we have our own ocean park in the Philippines! I consider it very ironic that a country with one of the riches marine biodiversity does not have its own ocean park. I believe that having an ocean park will help educate the next generation and help raise the awareness of protecting the Ocean. I this as one of our greatest achievement as a nation.
We left the hotel at around 9 a.m and took the cab. The park is located at the back of the Quirino Grandstand. Going to there is like going to the docks, because a part of the park is built above the ocean facing the Manila bay. The park is already open but there is still an on going construction. I learned later on that within the park area there will be several developments in the area such as a commercial complex a mall and a luxury hotel. This will further help boost tourism in the area considering also that Manila Bay has one of the best sunsets.
We walked right pass the welcome sign board and was ushered into a big atrium where the ticket counters were located. We bought some tickets and then went inside the first exhibit.
The first exhibit of the are big aquariums located outdoors featuring some exotic fresh water fishes from different parts of the world and from our very own seas. You can also notice that the area is full of plants and features a mini-waterfalls. This “amazon” like environment is intended to match the motif of the first exhibit.
Next, we were then brought to a dark enclosed area where more colorful yet small fishes were exhibited. We were amazed at the diverse collection of fishes that the park has to offer.
As we move forward we are then brought to a big dark room where. In here there were several huge fish tanks containing different kinds of big fishes.
At the end is the entrance of the tunnel which runs directly beneath the biggest aquarium in the park. The tunnel stretches several meters. You can see the huge aquarium because the tunnel walls is made of thick plastic, this gives you a unique perspective in observing the marine life inside the tank. This is also the only place in the park wherein you are given the experience of observing marine life as if you are standing beneath the ocean floor. (With the advantage of not getting wet) This is also the only aquarium that has the most diverse collection of marine life ranging from various fishes to stingrays. I’ve experienced walking through a tunnel underneath a huge fish tank in Ocean Park Hong Kong, I’m glad that this can now be experienced by my fellow Filipinos here in the Philippines without the need for going to Hong Kong.
At the end of the tunnel we are then brought to a huge area where other there were other huge fish thanks that houses predator fishes such as sharks. There is also a reading area for children here and other relevant information regarding the importance on why we have to protect our seas. This is the last exhibit that the park has to offer. I think there will be more in the future as some areas are still under construction.
Watching the vast richness that our oceans have to offer has somehow wet our appetite, so we decided to grab some chow. We went up and passed by the “Fish massage” pool where you deep your feet and have it “massaged” by fishes. The only way to exit the park is to pass through this wonderful restaurant with a magnificent view and an irresistible food aroma that you just couldn’t afford to just pass through. I don’t know of the park management deliberately designed it this way in order to compel people to eat the restaurant, but the marketing strategy really worked, because we later found ourselves digging through a buffet that is only fitting for royalty.
We grabbed a table near the window. The view of Manila Bay was magnificent. The buffet table was filled with all kinds of wonderful food some of them perhaps cooked in a paella pan. For me, this is probably the best part of our trip.:-)
After lunch we passed through the gift shop. (Which again is strategically placed in the exit) We bought shirts and other memorabilia. Our last stop was to have our pictures taken at the entrance.
After the exhausting but exciting tour it was time for us to head to the hotel. We tried to grab a cab, but I guess we were on the wrong side of the road because there were only a few cabs that passed there and most of them were full. We were however curious about several horse drawn carriages (Local name: Kalesa) that were parked in the area. I and my brother approached them and asked what they were doing there. They said that they that their main purpose is to tour tourists around the old city of Manila. They asked us if we wanted such and such a tour for a certain fee. I wanted to decline because; I believe I can tour the city without riding the Kalesa. Beside, I’ve already experienced riding a Kalesa for several times already. However my mom said that we should try the Kalesa, because he wants my son to enjoy the horse ride.
I asked the Kalesa driver if he can take us to the hotel after the tour. He seemed insulted by my question so he showed me his license and said that he can take us anywhere even to the airport if we wanted to.
So we went around the Old city of Manila for more than an hour, passing through Intramuros, the jail where Jose Rizal spent his last day before he was shot, the steps that Jose Rizal took before he was shot, the old University of Santo Tomas and other important landmarks of the City. Most of these historical places have markers on them. After touring the old city, the kalesa dropped us off the hotel. An incident that I could not forget that day is when my son, Zed Avalon’s feet was stepped on by the horse. When we went down the Kalesa, he and my brother went down first. He was so fascinated with the horse that he tried to approach it and touched the horse’s leg. The horsed moved a bit and stepped on his feet. Since he was a five year old kid, he could not get his feet off, so he started to cry. We were surprised why he cried suddenly, only to realize that the feet of the horse was on his foot.
The rest of the gang went to the hotel to grab some sleep. I roamed around the Malate area to buy some paintings, which has become somewhat a hobby of mine. I really do not buy really expensive paintings, because I do not have the money for such, I just wanted to put it up in some blank walls in our house that I think would like nice if there was a painting on it. My budget for a painting is somewhere from P 2,000 to P 3,500. I’ve already bought two in the Malate area. (Mostly imitations of the work by the great Filipino painter, Fernando Amorsolo) The paintings I am fond of buying are mostly imitated works of great artists. But since, most imitation are imitations of Filipino painters, those were the once I was forced to buy. Anyway, I found another great painting shop in the Malate area. This time I did not buy an imitation painting, I bought an original abstract painting. (The theme is still about the Filipino country side like most of Amorsolo’s work) I bought it for only P 3,000.00.
Afterwards I went back to the hotel, rest a little while and it was time for us to go the WANDERS musical-acrobatic show at the PAGCOR auditorium at Pasay City. My dad kept on referring to it as a “circus” which initially I thought it was, but after I watched the show, I realized that Wander is some kind of a musical-acrobatic-theater arts presentation.
We got to the PAGCOR auditorium and gave our tickets for the Wander show. At first we were declined entrance because the wanders ticket that we bought was the one scheduled for the Saturday show. My dad explained that he told the ticket seller that he wanted a ticket for the Wanders show on Friday not Saturday. At first they told us to come back Saturday. However my dad insisted that we are from Cebu, and we do not have time anymore to go back on Saturday for the wanders show, so they accommodated us.
The Wanders presentation was very grand. The show started with two clowns, doing their clown act. Just like a said it was is a musical acrobatic-theater arts presentation with all the dancing, singing, acrobatics, lighting effects and fireworks. It’s not only great for kids, but very entertaining for adults as well. Most of the acrobatics were done by the Chinese will the singing, dancing and comical presentations were done by the Filipinos.
After the Wanders show, we went back to the hotel and decided to call it a day. Tomorrow we will be going for a long trip to a placed called “Haceinda Escudero” Hasta La Vista.
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