The entrance fee at the Silliman Marine Laboratory is P20.00 per head. While we were there, we chanced upon some American students who were working with sea cucumbers.

The students were friendly and allowed our kids (and us too!) to touch and observe the sea cucumbers. They were smooth and soft! The students were focused on how the sea cucumbers were detecting light.

Throughout the laboratory, you will find preserved specimens and bones of animals like different fish, dugong, and even whalesharks. There are also grouper tanks, displays of various shells, and aquarium with Nemo (or the clownfish), which prompted my daughter to ask, “Where’s Dory?”

After a brief stop at the Silliman Marine Laboratory, we proceeded to the Tropical Conservation where they say you can see the rare brown spotted deer. Now I know why the spotted deer is rare elsewhere in the Philippines, they’re all there (joke…)!

You need to pay P35.00 per head to enter the Tropical Conservation. Aside from the rare spotted deer, your kids will see some monkeys, a warty pig (that’s what it’s really called), a python, among others. Although the smell of the place can be a bit distracting, there are areas with lots of green and shade from mahogany and narra trees.

I thought the above places allowed my kids to learn new things although I wished that the places were maintained better. I suppose one of the things the Department of Tourism and the local government should look into would be how to showcase such places with more attractive, cleaner, and better-maintained facilities. I also got the same feeling when I visited the old Marcos home in Ilocos in 2009. It may be difficult to attract visitors if the place appears like time and men had forgotten it. Just a thought.

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