In one rare attempt at being a normal couple, my partner and I went out on a real date last Sunday. For us whose idea of quality time together is raiding ukay-ukay stores and eating pungko-pungko, “real date”

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means cuddling up in a park and feeding each other with Chippy and siopao asado.

We had our date in a park in Talisay City, and it was here where we learned that Magellan and Lapulapu were a couple, and that Magellan died under the weight of Lapulapu while they were making out.

I’m not making this up. This lesson in history is what actually greets visitors to Crocolandia, a preservation park located in Barangay Biasong, Talisay City. The billboard says the park started out with only one crocodile, which the owners thought was a male. Convinced that the Portuguese explorer was such a croc for trying to subjugate Mactan Island, the owners christened the reptile “Magellan.”

But one day, Magellan laid eggs. “Oh, Magellan, you’re a woman?” the owners exclaimed. “What a deceitful, cunning, fraudulent, devious, island grabbing creature you really are!” And to fulfill what had been written in history, the owners gave Magellan his (or her) match. They brought in another crocodile and called it Lapulapu, who was so huge and heavy that he moved in super slow motion.

But despite his size, Lapulapu lost no time in doing what he was expected to do. He slew Magellan, not with a scythe but by making love to her 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without so much as using his four rubbery feet to support his weight. This tale of love and betrayal between two crocodiles inspired the name Crocolandia.

With the death of Magellan, several species of exotic animals started arriving at the park until human visitors who wanted to take a peek at the mean-looking creatures had to pay P80 for adults and P40 for children, and Please Don’t Feed The Animals, and Don’t Extend Your Arm Beyond The Railing (If You Want To Keep It), and Strictly No Smoking Please, Thank You.

Now, the Crocolandia Preservation Park is the closest one can get to actually living in the forest among some of the world’s most endangered animals. There’s the Burmese python, the Palawan bear cat, the Philippine brown deer, the Visayan warty pig, the Philippine tarsier, the Philippine hawk, the Asian palm civet, and the myna that amuses then irritates visitors by refusing to learn anything except “kinsa imong ngan (what’s your name)?.”

To boost this rainforest effect, there are ponds where visitors can fish using dog food as bait! No kidding. It was while waiting for our first tilapia kill that we heard the caretaker announcing to all that Lapulapu was to be fed in a few minutes.

It turned out that we were lucky because Lapulapu is fed only twice a week. So, together with other picnickers, we gathered around Lapulapu’s pond and gasped in awe as the beast slowly emerged out of the murky water. He looked old and tired, but his status as Magellan’s slayer earned him our respect.

But something unexpected happened. As Lapu-Lapu opened his jaw to gobble up an entire chicken dangled in front of him by his keeper, a little girl screamed in horror. Her scream startled all the other animals, until the park echoed with the deafening noise of guinea fowls, owls, hawks, deer, wild boars, wild cats and the myna bird with her “kinsa imong ngan? Kinsa imong ngan?”

Having made his presence felt, Lapulapu slowly crawled back to his home under the water.

(, july 15, 2008 )