September 28, 2008. It was Tisay’s third birthday. My parents decided to bring the family to Manila Ocean Park for the day. It was everyone’s first time at the aquarium, apparently the first and the largest aquarium facility in the country, owned by some Singaporean company. The only other large-scale aquarium facility in the Philippines, I think, is Ocean Adventure in Subic.
The billion-peso facility is planned to be a major tourist attraction in Manila. Only the first half is operation as of the moment, the other half of the facility is still being constructed. Once completed, the facility will include a mall, a hotel and rows of other shops and restaurants.
The place was pretty cool. It was divided into different sections depicting different aquatic themes and habitats. The underwater glass tunnel is not as long as the other underwater aquarium tunnels I’ve seen, though.
Tisay was very amused. It was really fun seeing her gasping and shouting in awe at the fishes and almost everything else new that she saw. I was amused, too. There’s something very relaxing with staring at fishes in an aquarium.
To be fair, the Manila Ocean Park, as with many other aquarium parks in the world, has its own share of criticisms, grounded largely on the cruel treatment of animals and the effect of the captivity and exhibition of fishes in enclosed aquariums. I’m honestly not entirely sold on the idea that animals, fishes in particular, have “rights” to the extent that equals people. I agree that they should be accorded a certain degree of, well, respect and “stewardship” and that the environment we all live in should be protected and conserved, but to compel everyone to leave animals alone and avoid contact to prevent any harm from being done for the sake of their “rights” is quite pushing the concept of “rights” a little too far. Though I also think that the awareness and educational spin that aquarium companies use to justify their existence is pathetic. It’s really largely for entertainment and profit.