RP soon to have own oceanarium
- Rainier Allan Ronda () - August 12, 2007 - 12:00am

A P1-billion marine theme park will soon make a big splash at the former Boardwalk area along Manila Bay.

The theme park will include a “tunnel walk” through a giant aquarium.

The former Boardwalk area is now the site of busy construction activities for the much-awaited Manila Ocean Park, scheduled to open to the public on Dec. 15 this year.

Manila’s very own “Ocean Park” is envisioned to rival those in Hong Kong, Bangkok, the United States and other places that have become certified tourist attractions.

The construction of the proposed Manila Ocean Park is being supervised by the Singapore-Chinese firm China Oceanis Group Ltd., which plans to have a two-level oceanarium and a “Concourse Plaza” that will serve as a bazaar and restaurant by the end of the year.

Poon Choon Hai, the construction head of the Manila Ocean Park, has expressed confidence in meeting the target completion of Phase I of the project by yearend.

“We are on schedule,” Hai told The STAR in an interview.

Hai revealed that the acrylic fish tank for the 25-meter tunnel walk wherein a visitor can walk through and see fish and other sea creatures swimming above, is already in place.

“The work is progressing very smoothly,” Hai smiled.

“We think that the park would be a pleasant Christmas surprise for Filipinos,” he said.

The China Oceanis Group boasts of expertise in marine theme park construction development, having constructed a total of five such landmarks – four in China and one in India.

The group was behind the construction of the Chong Qing Xinao Underwater World, the Qin Huang Dao Xinao Underwater World, the Tai Ping Yang Underwater World and the Nanjing Underwater World, all in China, and the Sahara Star Hotel in India.

George Lim, curatorial head of the Manila Ocean Park, is excited, saying the Manila Ocean Park will be unique since it will feature the Philippines’ diverse marine life.

“We’ll try to get all the best ones that can be found in Philippine waters,” Lim said.

Tropical oceanarium

The main feature of the Manila Ocean Park is the state-of-the-art oceanarium that will be filled with colorful tropical fish of various species and invertebrates indigenous to the Philippines.

The state-of-the-art facility will have a transparent acrylic-made tunnel to provide visitors with the experience of walking underwater and viewing sea creatures.

For the Concourse Plaza, it was learned that there was a proposed construction of a three-story Bay Pavilion, with a 15,566-square meter floor area, which will have retail shops, souvenir shops, restaurant facilities and a plaza for special shows and activities.

The top of the pavilion will be open, with especially designed tarpaulin roofing, to house a big food court offering Filipino and Southeast Asian cuisines.

Meanwhile, the Marine Discovery Park will be landscaped with fountains and marine life.

Phase 2 of the development includes the construction of a shopping mall and a hotel in the complex.

Hai said they target to complete the mall and hotel by April 2008.

Phase 3 involves the construction of an “open water habitat” which is mainly a man-made lake that can offer scuba diving for adventurous visitors.

The open-water habitat is scheduled for completion by July next year.

It was learned that the seawater for the various tanks housing the seawater creatures would be taken from Manila Bay.

Ronnie Pangan, Manila Ocean Park marketing officer, said huge investments were made just to procure state-of-the-art equipment to filter the Manila Bay seawater and ensure good quality for the survival of the sea creatures and make it acceptable for use in the tanks.

Pangan said as much as 12,000 cubic meters of Manila Bay seawater would be required for the tanks of the park.

Among the creatures to be housed in the tanks are barracudas, sharks, and rare and still largely unknown seawater fish found in Philippine waters.

Pangan gave assurance that the ticket price for admission in the park would be affordable.

“We have to make it affordable because we also want to make the park accessible to everybody, whether they be foreign or local tourists,” he said.

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