Inspiring Pinoys

Have You Ever Wondered How The Whaleshark Got The Stars On Its Back?

Zamboanga del Norte

Ida Damo
Ida Damo | Dec 20, 2018
Have You Ever Wondered How The Whaleshark Got The Stars On Its Back?
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whale shark photo by Clarissa Merced

The whale sharks are the gentle giants of the sea.  Contrary to popular knowledge that it is a whale, it is a member of the shark species.  It is the size of the whale and are filter feeders or they open their large mouths and the water comes out of their gills leaving the planktons, krill, small fish and squid, fish eggs, and others to be swallowed.  Gentle because they are not predatory creatures.

Whale sharks are considered endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Philippines in 1998 banned the fishing, selling, importing and exporting of whalesharks for commercial purposes but there are places where interactions are allowed but with restrictions like touching and swimming within 4 feet of the fish.

It is found in the tropical and warm-temperate seas that is why sightings and human interactions are fairly common all over the Philippines archipelago.  Even the Philippine 100-peso bill has a whale shark at its back with its distinct star-like markings.

And just this December, Gloria’s Fantasyland or Gloria de Dapitan has recently opened it’s The Whaleshark Story and Nia and Anwar, a musical play and version of how the whale shark got its stars.

READ: Choose Philippines’ Dapitan Travel Guide 

You have all the elements of a love story, a drama, adventure, comedy, and a musical that has notes of the Lion King, Once On This Island, Moana, Miss Saigon, Tangled, and a whole lot of Disney movies.

It is a light presentation that would give you goosebumps and bring tears to your eyes because it mirrors life.  I have watched it twice, each with a different cast and it made me cry every time. How can one not shed tears when its theme of looking up when everything seems down, of the universal triumph of good over evil, and of love that grows from childhood into adulthood and far beyond death of Nia and Anwar? And of light that will always be there as symbolized by the sun goddess Rhana and her cape of stars that is forever etched on the whale shark’s back.

Challenges are represented by the trickster Daawe who wreaks havoc over the entire island of Minta.  While being evil, Daawe and his cohorts also provided for the comic relief in the play.  

Oh and watch out for the song with the chorus of “There are oceans between us, where two drifting hearts can meet”, it can make you fall in love.

Over all, the play has a strong empowered feminine presence but does not belittle the contributions of the masculine for together, great things are achieved.

What gives a feeling of great pleasure and pride is that The Whaleshark Story is an all-original Filipino play from the concept and imagination, story, music, lights, direction, and performed by the local talents of Dapitan.

READ: Appreciate The Fine Things In Life At The Villa Angelina Luxury Suites 

While leaving you in a feel-good mood, it also advocates for the protection and preservation of the gentle giants of the sea and our oceans.  It inspires us to do more for mother earth.

I am not going to tell you the whole story except that it is worth watching and travelling all the way to Dapitan.

The whale shark has earned the stars on its back by giving the ultimate sacrifice of surrendering one’s life.

How to get there:

  • Major airlines have daily flights to Dipolog from Manila and Cebu.  Dapitan is just 15-20 minutes away by land.
  • If you stay at the Dakak Park and Beach Resort, you have free tickets to the show at Gloria’s Fantasyland with bus transfers.
  • If you go straight to Gloria’s Fantasyland, ticket is at PhP1,000 for the show with Unli Access on Rides and the Festival of Colors Show.
  • Starting December 15, the show will run every night of December until January 3, 2019. Starting January 3, it will be shown Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only.  Show starts at 830pm.
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