The Philippines’ first state-of-the-art oceanarium is located at the back of the Quirino Grandstand. Just take a taxi! By now, this place is as familiar as say, SM Mall of Asia. Admission rate is P400.00 for adults and P350.00 for kids. The Manila Ocean Park leads you to a journey to the deep.
The experience opens up with a “jungle” in Agos (Flow) where freshwater fauna thrives. This portion highlights the interconnectedness between earth and sea. In Dalampasigan, I got the chance to touch starfishes.
Did you know that the Philippines has one of the most beautiful reefs in the world? Scuba divers from different countries visit our trenches to see the corals of the Philippines. In MOP’s Bahura (Reef) section, the colorful world of reef inhabitants is presented in 46 tanks. The varied hues swirling round and round each tank sent me into a cam-whoring frenzy (camera flash off please!).
Pajama Cardinalfish “Dangat” It’s alive! Getting up close and personal with a fish: “Usap tayo!“ Find Nemo!
Laot (Fishing Ground) features big aquariums which contain fishes we humans consume. (Not milkfishes and tilapia noh!) Some aquariums are designed to show decaying ship hulls. Some fishes here are huuuuge!
The Buhay na Karagatan (The Living Ocean) underwater tunnel is probably the best section because I got the sensation of someone scuba diving (I wouldn’t know for sure because I haven’t gone scuba diving). Fishes and water are above and on your sides. Buhay na Karagatan is MOP’s centerpiece! There are so many kinds of fishes in one huge display that I literally can’t keep up with each one.
There are mermaid shows that runs in specific time. I got to see the 4pm show. Ladies dressed in colorful mermaid costumes swim with the fishes and do some water acrobatics. It’s so fun to watch! I wish I had their swimming prowess. Alas, I can’t even swim like a dog. Lol.
In this section, I also get to watch Santa Claus feeding the fishes. For bigger fishes, a whole cabbage head is attached to hooks. The smaller ones are fed through the swimmer’s hands. They swarm him like crazy.
The jacks in Kalaliman (The Deep) is the personification (er, fishnification?!) of fraternities and cliques. These fishes are the bullies. They go together in one circling motion but gang up on one of them and leave the poor fish hanging on to dear life. I literally saw a fish with bites and torn fins who can’t swim as fast and high as the others. Kawawa. The jacks also put up a good fight when caught. Imagine the fishes caught in one wide net in the movie Finding Nemo which were instructed to swim down resulting in breaking the anglers’ fishing pillars and their freedom. Win!
The overhanging tank of Pagi (Stingrays) is amazing. I guess stingrays has this bad reputation of killing the world’s crocodile hunter Steve Irwin. Did you know that they’re distant relatives of sharks? I’m sure the ones you see in MOP are quite harmless (sana diba?!).
And lastly, the king of the ocean… the Pating (Sharks)! They look scary alright. Most sharks are depicted in movies as savage but they’re shy. They choose to avoid people than attack. Maybe unless they’re really super duper hungry? Lol.
The Manila Ocean Park is one amazing oceanarium but the truth is, sobrang bitin! The photos you see here are just glimpses of what’s in store for you when you visit. But I tell you now that you’ll so enjoy yourself you’ll find it really short and bitin. I’ll let you see the place for yourself. 😉
There are other other activities to try. There’s the fish spa where doctor fishes nibble on the dead skin of your feet. A glass bottom boat ride which will let you watch the fishes swimming beneath your feet. There’s also a showcase of jellyfishes (separate admission fee).
If you get hungry, then there are lots of food kiosks around. I tried Makansutra Asian Food Village which is located at the end of the Oceanarium journey. This naked-open-kitchen type of resto offers hawker food from Asian countries – dimsum, bagoong rice, peking duck, barbecue wings, and so much more! I loved their roti, curry, and chicken satay.
Overall, the Manila Ocean Park is an experience you shouldn’t miss when visiting the Philippines. Though it needs further improvement, the place shows us how much the Philippines is blessed with a wonderful marine biodiversity. More importantly, it teaches us the value of conserving and protecting our environment and our natural resources. Take your kids here! They’ll surely love it.
A bonus of visiting MOP is gazing at this:
§undrenched, blogging from MNL