I haven’t seen a real shark in my entire life…as in yung face to face. The thought of it scares me…really! Well, the time came that I had to face my fear. It was April 2008 when a friend and I went to The Manila Ocean Park .
Upon entering the oceanarium, a calming rainforest welcomed us. The sound of the water falling and the freshwater fishes made us feel far from the busy Manila. This section is called AGOS (Flow).
There was this area with baby sharks and starfish in a wide tank. Nagtataka ako bakit madami tao dun sa area na yun. I found out that people are allowed to touch the starfish but not the sharks. Umpisa pa lang challenge na ito. My friend was pushing me…insisting me to touch the starfish. Paano? May mga sharks kaya na nakapaligid. It took me 15 minutes or so just to touch the starfish with my fingertip. I remember I was screeching and jumping…maybe hyperventilating just to do that while kids around me had no fuss.
Next was the BAHURA (The Reef). Colorful corals can be seen in this area. I was looking closely to check if the corals were real…I found out that artificial lang pala. Anyways, it looked good and majestic. There I found creatures new to my eyes. Iba’t ibang klase! May giant crab, fish na steady lang at hindi gumagalaw, fish na mukhang worm, at madami pa. Pambihira ang Bahura!
Sumunod naman ang Laot (Fishing Ground). Habang tumatagal mas dumidilim, mas lumalaki ang fish tanks, mas natatakot na ako. The Closer I Get To You ang drama ko, the closer I get to the sharks, the more bumibilis mag work ang imagination ko. Paano kung mabasag ang tank? Ang dami daming isda na ito!
I found the 25 meter walkway tunnel as the best section in the park. It may be shorter than the tunnel in Singapore, yet it is unique because of the 220-degree curve not found in other oceanariums. It was like every creature put in one place. Halo halo na silang lahat. Rambulan na sa BUHAY NG KARAGATAN (The Living Ocean)!
Natuwa ako at panandaliang nawala ang pagkatakot sa shark. Sa KALALIMAN (The Deep), mas marami pa akong nakita na nakakatuwa. Nang mapatingin sa itaas, may kakaibang aquarium na nakita. Ito ang PAGI (Stingray) na nasa Overhang Tank. Aaah…stingray…aaaah…ayoko nyan. Yan diba yung nakapatay dun sa Crocodile Hunter..si ano… i Steve Irwin! They were not so scary after all. You can go close and feed them pa nga. Hingang malalim… ok naman pala.
LAST… ang PATING (Shark)… ang dakilang pating. I pretended not to see but the tank was huge not to see. Again, my friend pushed me closer to the tank and waited until a shark passed by in front of me… inches away…separated by the glass na I imagined na mababasag. Happy to find myself safe…I stared and got used to seeing the sharks. HAAAY!!!Finally!!! I was relieved.
More attractions awaited us as we went to the 2nd level… such as the fish/foot spa area and the glass- bottom boat ride that made us appreciate the beauty of the Philippine marine life. Restaurants and a marine- themed mall can also be found in the Manila Ocean Park.
I’m happy I’ve faced my fear.
Tickets are 400 pesos for Adults and 350 pesos for Kids 4 ½ feet and below.
The Manila Ocean Park is located behind the Quirino Grandstand Luneta, Manila, Philippines.
Check on their website for the operating hours and schedule of shows: www.manilaoceanpark.com