So apparently my sister had two tickets to Manila Ocean Park… Unfortunately, since she had work this evening, she wouldn’t be able to use them, and the tickets were only valid until tomorrow, December 31st. Not wanting something like that to go to waste my father roped me into going with him to check the place out. Well, not really; in truth I’ve wanted to visit the place myself, but since it’s so out of the way from our house (it’s located just behind the Quirino Grand Stand) I never found the chance to do so.
Incidentally the screenplay I wrote for my class this term involved a visit to something similar. Had I the foresight, a trip to Oceanworld would have counted as much-needed research but, alas, it never happened. Oh well…
Anyway after two jeepney rides and a bit of walking, we were there. The first thing that we noticed upon arriving (aside from the merchant kiosks along the driveway) was the long line into the place, composed of adults and lots and lots of kids. Apparently it was the line for tickets, and it was just a taste of the crowds that we would encounter once we got inside.
Since we already had tickets my father and I went straight in. Compared to the seapark in Singapore, Oceanworld was relatively small, with everything packed in a two-floored and two-winged building, souvenir shops and restaurants included. The large number of parents there with their little kids, if anything, made the place seem much smaller than it already was. It was that crowded, at least to me.
Anyway my father and I made for the Oceanlife section, which took up a good part of the right wing of Oceanworld. As its name suggests, it was filled with all sorts of marine life, starting with fish found in freshwater bodies like lakes and rivers (including a giant five-foot Amazonian piraruchu), before moving to actual sealife. While the kiddies around me enjoyed watching all these colorful fishes swim around in their tanks, they seemed to get a kick out of the shark tank (which incidentally featured a diver cleaning the place with a vacuum pump). As for the sharks themselves, most of them (a leopard shark, several whitetips, and nurse sharks) seemed to be content to just lie down at the bottom of the tank, though the top part of the tank featured a few active blacktips circling about.
After the Marinelife section, me and tatay headed over to the other wing where the Sea Jellies section was. It’s pretty much as described, with a whole darkened section with tubular or large square tanks filled with all sorts of jellyfish, whose lights gradually shifted colors, while classical music played in the background. While it was very pretty, that’s pretty much all it offered, and soon enough the both of us found our ways out to its exit.
With the jellies done, we still had three places available to visit, at least as far as our tickets were concerned: the Marine Habitat show, the Marine Life Show, and the Fish Spa. We were supposed to drop by the Fish Spa right after the Oceanlife area, but the place was already filled with people, so we passed on that. The Marine Habitat show was supposed to feature a show with sea lions as its centerpiece, but apparently we missed out on the show, so it was pretty much just the pair of sea lions swimming in their tank… which unfortunately because of the glare of the afternoon sun were all-but-invisible in the waters of the tank. That left the Marine Life Show (and its attached Musical Fountain show), but we eventually had to pass on that as well, as it was so freaking hot in the stands, what with the afternoon sun directly hitting the people in the bleachers.
Seeing as we didn’t have anything else to do (and pretty much exhausted the options left to us by the tickets), the two of us decided that it was time to head home. Of course, we didn’t come home empty-handed (else we’d risk the wrath of my sister): using my credit card, I bought a green dolphin, yellow octopus, and clownfish plushie. Oh, and for the curious, the octopus was mine.
We walked a bit to the UN LRT station, which meant we passed by Luneta and Rizal Park on the way there. Although I had to suffer one of my father’s diatribes about how Rizal was nobody to him (he’s annoyed how someone like Rizal, who was part of a privileged illustrado family, meaning he’s as close to being filthy rich in modern terms, would be our National Hero), the walk through the park was pleasant in itself. While nowhere near the number of people we saw at the Mall of Asia during Christmas Day, there were still a lot of people picnicking on the park grounds, families with their kids mostly. I wanted to visit the Japanese Gardens and the Orchidarium, but apparently those were closed for the holiday (it was Rizal Day after all). We took some pictures of some of the monuments (including the surprising Sentinel of Freedom, which wasn’t there when we last visited), before continuing on to the station.
It was just right that we didn’t linger at the park. Judging from the news earlier this evening, the place would become absolutely packed with people, and apparently many are staying overnight so they can meet the New Year there. Yeesh.
And then what did we do next? Ah, well I had to ask tatay to go on ahead, since I had to make a detour to SM Makati to pay off our Maynilad bill for the month. With that done, it was straight home for me.
All in all, a pleasant way to spend my afternoon, I guess.