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Benise Chiara Pabia Balaoing 09296069560 3-Block A Journalism Individual Category Beauty in A dversity By Benise P. Balaoing ³ O O nga, four years na pala ang Manila Ocean Park (Oh yes, Manila Ocean Park has been DURXQGIRUIRXU\HDUVDOUHDG\ ´,VD\WRP\VHOI,VPLOHDVDWLFNHWERRWKYLGHRDQQRXQFHVWKH SDUNœVDQQLYHUVDU\,ORRNDURXQGPH,WœVPXFKPRUHEHDXWLIXOQRZWKDQLWZDVEHIRUH 2QWKHOHIWWKHUHœVDSKRWRERRWKZhere Musical Fountain Show viewers can take souvenir shots, Liquid Pool & Lounge, and a gift shop; on the right, a grandstand where South $PHULFDQ6HD/LRQVSHUIRUPIRUDQDXGLHQFHRIDERXW9LGHRVDOVRDQQRXQFHWKHSDUNœV newest attractions²a bird show, a Glass Bottom Boat Ride, a Fish Spa, an Aquanaut Voyage² an underwater walk in a special suit so you could interact with the sea creatures. ,QVLGHWKHEXLOGLQJWKHUHœVDQRWKHUSKRWRERRWKSURPRWLQJPDULQHOLIHSURWHFWLRQ0\ brother and I pose for a photo then we go to the Oceanarium itself. The Oceanarium has five parts: Agos (Flow), a freshwater fish exhibit that also features starfish and other creatures on the RFHDQœVVXUIDFH Bahura (Reef), colorful artificial coral reefs where Nemo and his kind thrive;

Laot, Buhay na Karagatan and Ang Kalaliman. Laot (Fishing Ground) showcases the fish we eat, like the giant tuna. Buhay na Karagatan (The Living Ocean) is an underwater tunnel where you can see various underwater creatures. Ang Kalali man (The Deep) shows the sharks and stingrays that live in the deepest parts of the ocean.

:HGRQœWVWD\IRUWRRORQJDWWKH2FHDQDULXP1RWKLQJPXFKKDVFKDQJHGLQLWVLQFHRXU last visit anyway. We still wish the Buhay na Karagatan were longer, and that we could bottlefeed the fishes at Agos for a lower price. So, we move on to why we revisited the Ocean Park in the first place²the Trails to Antarctica. It is very cold. There is an exhibit about the differences between the Arctic in the North and the Antarctic in the South²reindeer live in the former, penguins, in the latter. On a wall is DQLPDJHRI$QWDUFWLFDœVJODFLHUVDQGWKHDQLPDOVOLYLQJWKHUH,QRUGHUWRVSRWWKHDQLPDOV hidden on the image, one has to push down a lever that has a plastic image of the animal, DFWLYDWLQJDODVHUWKDWSRLQWVWRWKHDQLPDOœVORFDWLRQ Uh-RKWKLVH[KLELWLVQœWZRUNLQJ,KRSHLWJHWVUHSDLUHGWKRXJK,WœVDYLWDOHGXFDWLRQDO tool for younger children. So, off we go to the penguin exhibit. How wobbly the Humboldt penguins walk; yet how swiftly they dive and swim! A park guide asks me if I want to have my picture taken while feeding the penguins. Yes, of course I do! I hold up a fish and a penguin comes to me right away. As I prepare to feed it and it opens its beak, somebody sayV³0DœDPGRQœWJLYHLW\HW3LFWXUHpo muna 0DœDPGRQœWJLYHLW \HW,œOOWDNHDSLFWXUHILUVW ´,VPLOHIRUWKHFDPHUDWKRXJKWKHSRRUDQLPDOKDVWRZDLWDIHZ seconds to be fed. My photo looks great. But better still is the sight of the cute baby penguin wobbling away with its prized possession.

C O M E T O M O M M Y! The pleasure of finally feeding the little one is beyond compare.

1H[WLVWKH6OLGH2œ)XQD-meter ice slope that sends people screaming as they go down. As we put on our helmets and protective gear at the top, my nonconformist brother tells PH³$WH¾ZDJNDQJVLVLJDZDK+LQGLWD\RVLVLJDZ&KLOOODQJWD\R $WHGRQœWVKRXWRND\":H ZRQœWVKRXW:HœOOEHFKLOO ´ We sit on something that looks like two cloth salvavidas (life buoys) joined together. To ensure our safety, we hold on to a thick string attached to the front of each ring. With a mild kick DWWKHULGHœVUHDUHQGRIIZHJR,WœVWKHELJJHVWDGUHQDOLQHUXVK,IHHOLQ\HDUV,WœVH[KLODUDWLQJ I scream my lungs out! As we near the bottom, we speed up. As I scream louder, I press my clenched fist into the ice, hoping that the friction between my fingers and the slide would keep me from falling off. %XWLWZDVQœWDVJRRGDQLGHDas I thought it would be.

T A R A N T A H I N G PASA W A Y. This is what the laws of physics would tell you NOT to do.

³0D¶DPVDVXVXQRGSRPDJ-iingat kayo. Muntik na po kayong masubsob kanina 0D¶DPEHPRUHFDUHIXOQH[WWLPH<RXDOPRVWKLWWKHLFHIDFHGRZQ ´VD\VWKHJX\ZKRWDNHV EDFNRXUSURWHFWLYHJHDU,VD\³ Opo´EXWGRQ¶WUHDOO\FDUHDERXWZKDWKH¶VVD\LQJ7KHULGH JDYHPHDQDGUHQDOLQHUXVKDQGWKDW¶VDOOWKDWPDWWHUV0\PRPDVNVPHLI,¶PKXUW,VD\QR 2XWRIFXULRVLW\,ORRNDWP\ULJKWULQJILQJHUDIHZVHFRQGVODWHU³2KORRN,W¶V EOHHGLQJ´ ,ODXJKRXWORXGEHFDXVH,GRQ¶WIHHOWKHSDLQDQGWKHDEUDVLRQ¶VEH\RQGVNLQ-deep! I wrap my handkerchief around it then go to Snow Village, a room where snow covers park benches, pine trees and a red Volkswagen with eye headlights. There, we pose with Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus. To protect ourselves from the cold, we wear large, thick jackets.

After we return our jackets, Mom cleans my wound. She looks at me as she pours the alcohol, as if expecting me to cringe in pain. ,MXVWODXJKDWKHU1RWKLQJœVKDSSHQLQJ,WKLQNWKHFROGQXPEVPHWRWKHSDLQ But wait: if reindeer live in the Arctic and the Arctic is in the North Pole, what was Mr. Claus doing with us down there!? We eat lunch at the Makan Makan East Asian Village. My mouth waters at their crispy pata. Then we go to the Jellies: Dancing Sea Fairies exhibit on the floor below. The jellyfish swim around in their LED-lit tanks to the tune of classical music. Their translucent bodies make the display more beautiful, and their graceful motion make the exhibit a relaxing place to be in after going around. The last part of the exhibit has the jellyfish in cylindrical aquariums and mirrors on four walls, making it look like there were more jellyfish tanks than there really were. I realized how we can make ourselves magnanimous even in the darkest of times. When we first went to the Manila Ocean Park in 2008, I was depressed because of my academics. I was about to enter my junior year in high school back then. In sophomore year, I had wanted so much to get the Best in Biology award. Sometimes, I would even skip lunch just to study biology. But despite all my efforts, I still filed to get the award. We went to Manila Ocean Park that may after its soft opening. Back then, there was nothing else other than the Oceanarium. There were no food shops, and the stairs were still under construction. Back then, the Manila Ocean Park was not whole²pretty much like I was. But after the tour, a sense of peace filled me. I wanted to start anew. I bought a blue Manila Ocean Park t-shirt and a blue Manila Ocean Park sling bag. Blue was the color of the relaxed lifestyle I chose to live from then on.

7RGD\WKLQJVKDYHFRPHIXOOFLUFOH,ÂśPDERXWWRHQWHUP\MXQLRU\HDULQMRXUQDOLVP school. Last March, our group failed the final project in our Introduction to Journalism class. I cried my eyes out at this rather traumatic experience of having been humiliated in front of the FODVV,FDQÂśWPDNHVHQVHRIKRZDQGZK\WKLVHYHQKDSSHQHGWRWKLVGD\ Today, at the fully-operational yet still growing Manila Ocean Park, I am picking up the pieces of my broken heart. Stephen Chbosky said it perfectly: I may not have had the power to choose where I came from, but I can still choose where to go from there. Looking at the sea creatures, I realize that they also have problems of their own. I hear about dynamite fishing, muro-ami and the illegal harvest of corals. Whales and sea turtles are VWUDQGHGDVKRUH)UHVKZDWHUILVKGLHDVWKHR[\JHQOHYHOVJRGRZQZKHQWKHUHÂśVWRRPXFK garbage in the water. Recently, seals were clubbed to death in Canada. Yet they are all here, providing entertainment to city dwellers, lighting up the lives of young and old alike and promoting the protection of their kind. They make meaning out of their lives in the face of adversity. They bring beauty to the world. Their existence has a purpose, and so should ours. To paraphrase Chbosky, after all, we are not some sad story. We are alive.

Entry #4 Beauty in Adversity - Benise Balaoing