If she sat there longer, I’m afraid, she might scream with pleasure! Titillated at the Manila Ocean Park? It’s possible but that’s going ahead of the story…
I immediately confirmed my participation to visit the Manila Ocean Park upon the invitation of a friend for a media tour. Even if it has been open for sometime, I still haven’t been there since I was procrastinating time and again. When I did made the tour, I was wide eyed with wonder.
I was in awe. Aahhs and oohhs were said. I was a kid again but this time, armed with my camera, I was clicking away at the rather dim spaces that I have to resort to high ISO. Nevermind the digital noise.
I have only seen these in National Geographic and Discovery Channel in cable TV!
I exclaimed to myself. Indeed, seeing these marine creatures as offered in the Manila Ocean Park is something that is unforgettable. I’m familiar, more or less with the strange fishes seen on TV and books but being face to face is a different experience. It’s exhilarating, just like capturing a new beetle species up in the forests.
The exhibit is divided into different sections that introduces the visitor to the coastal to the deep sea environment of which I especially liked the bahura or coral reef part. Here, various aquariums show intriguing species of fishes and eels and seahorses including shark eggs that are translucent enough to enable one to see what’s inside. These creatures are generally from the Philippines specifically Palawan and some from other areas in the world.
The most popular spot in the park is perhaps the 25 meter underwater tunnel that shows various species interacting with each other. Its really fascinating with sharks and big fishes swimming with the smaller ones.
From time to time, the mysterious but beautiful manta rays seem to fly in the water and when these do pass overhead, I clicked on my camera hoping to capture a surreal image with that smiling face, which is actually it’s mouthparts showing.
Then this guitar fish passes by. A strange creature that seemed confused as it looks like a shark and a ray combined. If I only have more time to spend, I would want to just sit down and linger. Alas, our guide called us to proceed to the next section.
Jellyfishes are mostly feared because of their poisonous stings but here, these are safely placed in aquariums bathed with colored lights that change every few seconds. The effect, ghostlike and eerie but I would want to consider it as gossamer beauties floating in the ether.
Wow! These come in various shapes and sizes. Some with threadlike tentacles whirling about like ballet dancers wearing lace dresses. Their movements are gracious and mesmerizing.
In some displays, their bulbous heads and fleshy and elaborate projections throb while others are flat, rounded and very much pliable going where the flow takes them. Up, down and sideways.
Yes, mermaids do exist in the form of sexy ladies wearing flippers and dressed in, what else, the familiar sea outfit that we know. In fact, a friend is one of these swimming beauties enchanting the visitors. Even if it’s make believe, they are indeed beautiful to watch, gracefully dancing in the water amidst the manta rays and fishes. A hit with visitors and children but too bad that it will only be until 28 February considering that this park started it first with the rest in Asia following suit. The operators are said to be planning a more spectacular show in the future.
The tour can sometimes be a time killer and leaves one hungry that dining at one of the many stalls in Makansutra Asian Food Village at the second floor is recommended. Savor rich gustatory delights with various Southeast Asian cuisine ranging from rice meals, noodle dishes and refreshments.
I opted to have char kway teow which I tasted first in Ipoh, Malaysia a few years ago. It was good as well as the Hokkien fried noodles. Of course, teh tarik or pulled tea to wash all these down.
Going there in the afternoon is recommended as the restaurant, other than giving a comfortable and restful stay, provides a spectacular view of the Manila sunset with the Mariveles mountains of Bataan in the background.
One of the attractions that I really like is the fish spa at the second floor. With two blue tiled shallow pools in one area overlooking the North Harbor, people just sit on the concrete ledge with the lower legs and feet bared and immersed in the water.
Here, nibbler fishes congregate at our feet and start devouring, they say, on dead skin cells. The experience is not something for the very sensitive as it can really be, shall I say, titillating. It feels like a dozen or more small lips smothering one’s feet with kisses.
One of the lady media tour participants, can’t help but belt out a shy giggle and laughter from time to time as the fishes kept on lapping at her feet. If she sat there longer, I’m afraid, she might scream with pleasure! My apologies but I can’t help it.
Manila Ocean Park (www.manilaoceanpark.com +63 2 567 7777)
Makansutra Asian Food Village (+63 2 567 3512)