July 26, 2011

Manila Zoo Revisited

Since there was news that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wanted to shut down the Manila Zoo, I wanted to share my experiences at Manila Zoo during my last visits.

I've been to Manila Zoo in 2008 and 2010 since I graduated in High School, well I've been into Manila Zoo for at least 5 times in my life I could remember going there when I was a kid, a teenager and as a college student.

But first, what is Manila Zoo and how important is it in our country?

Manila Zoo opened its doors July 25, 1959. Yes that was yesterday they celebrated their 52nd year and as the first and oldest zoo in ASIA. Its full name is The Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, it remains to be one of the most visited zoos in the country, mainly attracting public school field trips and tourists accommodating almost 2 million visitors annually.

Being the first and oldest, its location is in the heart of Manila, 5.5 hectares with 800 animals from nearly 100 species as of 2007. It also houses some confiscated, injured and donated animals and so the Zoo is safe to be called a Rescue Center.

When I visited here in 2008 with my friends, I was a freshman college and let's admit that if you're from Manila or anywhere within an hour's reach from Manila and you're in college, you wouldn't go to this old Zoo. But my Love for animals is different from the others, I love nature more than big malls and man-made structures, although Manila Zoo is a man-made home for the animals, the animals are part of nature that no human can create even in cloning, are you getting me?

In 2008 Manila Zoo was dead, I mean it really looked dead to me. I was excited to see Mali, the elephant I saw when I was little, used to be really really big and healthy but when I went inside together with my friends we all wondered if it was still Mali we were looking at because the elephant was thin, and I meant thin in elephant terms.

This is Mali in 2008, the elephant from Sri Lanka. 
Manila Zoo was dull in 2008, it was like the worst year for the animals, although I saw that most of the animals were taken care of, judging by how they should look like and their sizes, it was still good. The problem was the surroundings and the trash being thrown inside the cages and around the zoo. And there were people smoking inside too! Isn't a zoo a total non-smoking area?

Other animals around the zoo in 2008


In 2010, a dear friend of mine expressed her longing to visit Manila Zoo because she hadn't been there once in her life. Me and her being a travel enthusiasts since we met in college share the same drive to see new places. Old places become new when you look at it on a different perspective you know.

So we planned and invited a lot of our classmates and friends and our revisit to Manila Zoo was almost perfect when on the day we were supposed to go, it was just me and my friend Melissa who were available that day, that only showed how much we really love to travel.

It was the May 6, 2010 as I could recall because the summer heat was just killing me but the mature trees in the Zoo helped regulate the heat. As we entered the zoo I saw Mali the elephant again and this time he really appeared healthy and he even welcomed us by showing us to his new space where he can take a shower and dip in the water.

Mali and his new play spot, he appeared a lot happier and healthier in 2010 than 2008
The new space was good although it was entirely concrete, I wish there'd be grass and a tree for him to rest under it. Maybe a companion elephant is better but I don't know if that's possible with the entrance fee of the zoo which is less than $1 could cover these things.

Iguana at the Reptile gallery.
We wandered around seeing Mali first and the n some snakes in the reptile area and that day it wasn't filled with visitors because it was a weekday but there were some and some people are just rude because they were smoking around and the personnel of the zoo happen to be tolerating it.

Turtle just "hanging around".
There were new animals that I saw and some old timers like Mali and I must say I Love how Manila Zoo is trying to make the place beautiful with the meager funding they are getting from the Government but they really have to focus on the cages, especially the cages of the Monkeys because it is depressing I can see in the eyes of the animals that they feel alone. It's suffocating them, the small spaces and dirty surroundings.

We took lunch inside the zoo and noticed that the place was even more dirtier because the shops aren't looking after their customer's trash, they didn't have enough trash bins. It's almost like it's also people from the inside who do not care about the Zoo, they're just there to make business.

Outside the zoo where the "Kinder Zoo" was, although fewer animals are around, they were a lot more better in shape than inside the main zoo. I heard it was a private company who was keeping it.

The kinder zoo provided visitors to touch the animals and ride on it and pet them. In 2010 there were still closed cages because the animals weren't there yet.

Here are some of the photos we did inside the pet zoo:

The Kinder Zoo, well we don't look like we're in Kinder.
Overall the 2010 visit was way better than 2008 and I hope well I get a chance to visit this 2011 I could compare it again because we don't know if Manila Zoo is developing slowly or not but as far as my visit, it is developing but in a slow pace.

Zoos are important because it is a way to keep the children and elders informed of what the animals need, thus, I think Manila Zoo has to show it.

July 5, 2011

Inspiration for Writing

A few days ago I got a random text message from a friend of mine, it was one hell of a busy week for everyone and then this question just got me. "What inspires you to write?" - I said to myself "yeah, that's a good question, time for some self assessment". So I sent her a reply with my reasons and after that I started to think when did I first start anyway?

I sat for awhile to remember the first song I've written out of my Love for music (I was in a punk-rock band before during my high school days.) was called "To be with you" and I wrote it during my band's out of town party in a beach in Zambales. 

This is the latest I've written. Just last week in a mall.

But before I wrote songs, I've written quite a lot of poetry although I wasn't inspired by poets. Musically I was inspired by Michael Jackson, Coldplay, Rico Blanco (in Rivermaya) and local band Join The Club. My music world revolved around them, especially with Michael Jackson's incredible music. I remember the first song and my most Loved song of his was when I heard it in the end credits of "Free Willy" and it was called "Will you be there" and that just makes me levitate when hearing the song and not one day today will I sleep without hearing that song.

My biggest musical inspirations in my life. Michael Jackson, on the top right is Coldplay and Rico Blanco at the bottom.

I had a lonely youth experience, not that I didn't have friends or I didn't have a good time, there were lots and lots of good times with my friends and drinking here and there when we were 16 (only in the Philippines!). But I always felt that I didn't belong to this nightlife thing or this party thing, it was fun but it didn't make me fully happy and contented, I prefer to be in a quieter place with a few and sometimes I prefer to be alone. I didn't feel I belonged in a certain group of people, I had good and bad friends, friends who were there for the good times and friends who'll stay by your side during the bad times.

In high school when I was lonely I'd write at the back of my notebook with poems and lines from songs I could relate to. 

Today in college whenever I feel stressed and lonely, I usually go out in my own solo photo walk, I always have with me my camera of course, a face towel, a small notebook and a pen where I would write in songs. My favorite place to hang-out in Manila would be the Rizal Park because it's where all sorts of people are, there are tourists, local tourists, passers-by, bystanders street people. I love to watch people do what they do without disturbing them, just watch them around while I listen to music.

Lovely couple by the bay.
My Inspiration for writing? It would be the people I see, usually I write about Love because for me it is both the greatest and most dangerous thing in the world, I've seen people get well and get worst with Love. If I wanted to write something but I haven't experienced yet (like having a relationship), I listen to my friends' stories and when I'm in my photo walk, I sit under a shade (usually under a tree) and start writing with the things I see.

A lonely and depressed man in the streets of Intramuros.
So far I've written myself 12 songs and although all of it is about Love, it tells differently from another. I've written a song called "MANILA SKY" while I was in Manila bay and saw two people being introduced to one another and then I watched them for awhile while I wrote the song and when I write the music automatically comes in like setting the mood of the song.

The inspiration for me comes from something we don't have that others have, it is our longing to have whatever it is that makes us happy, for me when I see a sweet couple I can't help but smile because I'm happy for them that they have their own world and they are Loving each other and they are happy. 

I Love sunsets and the breeze of the cold air.
What everyone wants around the world is to be happy and contented, and for me, LOVE is the answer, people forgot what True Love is, it is not buying the diamond ring or the cars and houses, the expensive dates, those are expressions of Love but True Love is being contented and happy with the person without even doing anything. And if you find that person who needs nothing but only you? NEVER EVER LET THAT PERSON GO. 

What's my inspiration? LOVE. BECAUSE IT LIVES FOREVER.

here's the song "Manila Sky" - written in 2010