Copyright © my Wide White Wall
Design by Dzignine
Tuesday, June 29, 2010


(Warning: A flood of parenthetical remarks ahead.)

Who says a worthwhile family bonding experience deemed only for the so-called well-heeled cannot be had with a bare P300 budget? Not buying the idea? Well, the family's weekend activity at the Nido Fortified Science Discovery Center in SM Mall of Asia is the ultimate proof.

With three free tickets given by a kind friend, I set out that I bring along my mom and my sister (my brother is always 'at work' on a Friday, or may it be on any day, which made him excluded from this plan; until recently, he even never had the slightest idea that we left 'to have some bonding' that day) with me, a tad fretting over the financial aspect, in view of the fact that the payday was still a few days away. Friday came and off to SM MOA we went, trusting in our pockets' (I mean my mother's; she was basically our 'financier' for this endeavor) powers to make us survive (gastronomically as well) without technically having to walk home from Pasay to Marikina.

We were in MOA at 5:30 p.m.; with P107 just for the transportation expenses. We opted to buy snacks and beverages from the supermarket instead of dining in at some fastfood chain. From this alone we already spent, if my memory serves me right, P87. (Let me do some quick mathematical operations here. So far we had already shelled out P194. Subtracting that from P300, that leaves us P106!)

Ok, now let us deviate from the monetary (and headache-inducing mathematics) side of this story. We were at the Nido Fortified Science Discovery Center at 7 p.m. (my griping about our slack pace — exacerbated by the untoward incident in front of an apparel store — behooved us to reach the place 'earlier'). My sister was quite dismayed that we already missed the regular planetarium film Seven Wonders on show at 6 p.m., which features the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. However, we still had 20 minutes or so before the next planetarium movie, so we set out to have a look at 'the fun world of discoveries' the scientific facility offers its visitors. (NFSDC has been touted to be the pioneer 'technology-based, highly interactive science learning theme park' in the country. It has nine walk-through galleries, namely: Life Clock, ImagePort, SMART Media City, Transportation Nation, Grossology, Spaceship Earth, Virtual Reef, City Science, and Robot Inc; the Digistar Planetarium and Lego Mindstorms Robotics Center are two more must-visit attractions.)

First off, there were these animated bugs on a color screen affixed to the floor that immediately hide in the leaves once you step on them (not quite sure about that though because up to this point, one still wonders if they really do). After deciding that we had enough of the crawling insects, we partook of the Shadow Room wherein, by the help of a projector, our shadows were able to join a fruit-bearing tree and a ferocious tiger (the tree somewhat marks off one's shadow and the tiger) on a big screen. What was fun about this thing was it's truly interactive that when you move, your shadow will also move; thus you can toss the round fruits with your hand's shadow, of course, for as long as the nearby tiger hasn't attacked you (or rather your shadow) yet.

We also took the opportunity to have a try on the flight simulators, which the three of us singularly disliked; I, in particular, consistently crashed the plane I was piloting (the belittling experience reminded me not to ever try to pilot a real plane in real life). We did drop by the Grossology section which was quite a bore (guess it was because we're a thought 'gross' of the topic; let's not talk about that anyway), save for this 'Let's Play Grossology' game I played with my sister (neither of us outsmarted the other though, for we both got the same number of correct answers; suppose we're not ignorant of this gross stuff anywise).

The second level of the center, for me, houses the most interesting exhibits. For one, the Robot Inc. gallery has Maestro (a robot, of course), which could play different classical pieces — including the 'Moonlight Sonata' which I chose for 'him' to play — on his colossal piano. There's also the Earthquake Experience Room (which gave me this weird yen to have a try on Phivolcs' earthquake simulator room) and the Virtual Reef, which, aside from the planetarium movie, I can say was the most enjoyable part of our whole NFSDC experience that day (thanks to Mr. T, the titan fish, which calls himself papalpok in Tagalog). At the end of this walk-through virtual reef is a large screen in which Mr. T appears in a jiffy, flashes out a ready smile and welcomes you to the gallery (well, I wasn't even sure of the last one because the moment we stepped in front of the screen and laid our eyes on him, he started on blabbing away with blah blah blah; so let's just suppose it's a welcome/introductory speech). I recall having asked him the very basic 'What's your name?' and then followed by 'What kind of fish are you?' (I bet he already said those in his introduction). I was really at loss for words after uttering those two questions (the situation was very awkward, you know. Me, talking to a fish?!), so I inadvertently asked 'Do you speak Tagalog?', to which he replied 'Aba, oo naman, nagta-Tagalog ako!' Surprise as I was that moment, I laughed mockingly at myself for repeatedly telling my mom and my sister early on that Mr. T was probably programmed to answer based on the keywords from the queries asked to him. He did ask for my name to, I guess, stir up an informal conversation. After a few exchange of words, I then pulled my mom to the front to replace me. It was then I realized how boring his job is. Mr. T, all alone, mindfully waits for at least a guest who has interest in talking to him and patiently responding to questions even though the answers are quite obvious (just like in our case). Mr. T needs a companion (perhaps Nemo will do ^_^).

After the encounter with Mr. T, we were requested by the staff to proceed to the Digistar Planetarium minutes before the Dark Star Adventure film started. The theater-like dome made me feel like we were about to experience something so scientific (besides the fact that it was my, and most probably my mother and my sister's, first time to be in such a place). The short movie, which lasts for around 40 minutes, tells about the story of Subrah, his father and their robot companion named Swipes, as they deal with cosmic explosions, black hole, supernova and what have you to make their way to their home planet millions of light-years away. Harsh as it may seem, but I honestly had this 'when-is-this-gonna-end?!' feeling a few minutes after the presentation began. I was lost the moment they started rambling about these space thingamabobs; all the same, I was entertained by the visual aspect of the experience.

Although we got wet by the downpour, hassled by the traffic on our way home, tired, and starved, we were happy and proud that we were able to eke out the remaining P106 — P21 for the shuttle en route to the EDSA MRT station, P66 for the commuter trains and P20 for the tricycle. (Ok, here's math again just for the last time, that sums to P107. P107?!!). Well, turned out my mom got a spare P200 bill all this time.