As it turns out, animals are like people after all. Many won’t surprise us but a select few seem to rewrite the book of genetics with their form that seem to break the rules of convention – leaving us wondering some more. Yes, right here in these sun-kissed“Land of Promise”, Las Islas Filipinas.

You may think you’ve seen them all: lions, giraffes, zebras etc. Fact is, you could identify them blindfolded.You swear. Granting they don’t go for your throat. And I don’t blame you. With all the information overload and the technology that surround us – thanks to Google and friends and cable, it’s easy to be skeptical. However, a little digging will tell us, there are some animals that when seen could make most every Juan awestruck – tongue-tied in disbelief.

It takes no National Geographic Channel or Discovery Channel junkie to evoke a deeper sense of wonder in every Juan of us. Gentlemen and fine ladies of the hour,here are the Top 10 animals in the Philippines you ought to see before you lose your gift of sight and retire.
Purple Crabs

#10: Purple Crabs

Yes, such a colorful creature. With its extraordinaire purple shell (caparece) and reddish claws, this one’s certainly no party-pooper. Certainly a true stand-out when surrounded by other otherwise mundane-colored crabs, those that grace our dining tables most.The striking color must be cool with the lady crabs. In hindsight, it may not bid him well as it could make him easy prey for predators.

Looking at it, though, can lead you to believe it’s but a toy that your 5-year old son has just finished coloring. Until you get pinched by its claws. The good news is it was just of late that these crabs have been recognized scientifically as four new species of purple crabs, aptly reported by Inquirer.

Where to find: streams in remote areas of Palawan

Flying Dragons

#9: Flying Dragon

From the looks of it, it seems this is one creature you should not mess with. Contrary to its name, the flying dragon does not emit fire and can definitely not put you in flames. Thanks heavens! But yes, they do fly through the air. Although technically, it’s called gliding. They use their elongated ribs to do this. Much like a parachute. This “flying ability” serves him well, adeptly navigating the forests for food and finding mates.

Scientifically-named Draco Yolans, the Draco lizard is a close relative of your house lizard, and does not differ so much in size. Think house lizard with a yellow chute. And if you’re planning to eat one, go ahead as they’re not poisonous. Granting you catch them.

Where to find: almost everywhere in Philippine forests.

Stripe-faced Flying Fox

#8: Stripe-Faced Flying Fox

 For a moment there, you’d think you’re seeing a wily fox with all the stripes. But this is a bat or to be exact the Mindoro stripe-faced fruit bat (Stylocteniummindorensis) and has been honored as one of Philippines’ newest discoveries. Initially reports caught explorer Jacob Esselstyn but he nearly brushed it off being skeptical at first. Eventually, the “flying fox” graced the August 2007 issue of the Journal of Mammalogy.

Yes, you heard us right. All bats are not birds and this one’s no exception. They’re mammals. They’re warm-bloodied and nurse babies. Which could make you think Count-Dracula-turns-into-a bat theory is not farfetched after all. Just kidding.

Where to find: Occidental, Mindoro

Palawan Bearded Pig

#7: Palawan Bearded Pig

Wo. This one seriously need a haircut. Or a razor. But do beware: This is not your ordinary wild pig “baboy-ramo.” Not only does it have those grisly distinct white beards, the Palawan bearded pigs (Susahoenobarbus) are equipped with canine-like teeth and longer snout.

And this pig has officially been received by the scientific community as a new specie, classified as a subspecies of Bornean bearded pigs.They’re not much of a threat to man with its laidback nature and with females often forming matriarchal community for territory defense.

 Where to find: islands of Calamian, Balabac, and Palawan.

Sea Pen

#6: Sea Pen

For endearing writers and office geeks, this one is no quill pen. It’s shape like one, under the sea that is. That’s why it’s called Sea Pen. And more interestingly, these soft corals can end up in variety of shapes over time, taking the form of a golf          club or an umbrella for instance. And like any other coral species, sea pens also manifest individual polyps with eight tentacles for catching planktons. Burying themselves under solid rock and a host of other substrates, these corals can easily detach to find a better home.

Discovered in the Philippine Wildlife Expedition in 2011, the Sea Pen can grow 3 meters tall and is such a sturdy creature it is reported to have survived the dark sea floors in the vicinity of Antartica. And it’s no coincidence that some sea pens exhibit bioluminescence, glowing in the dark when under threat.

Where to find:Philippines’ Verde Islands

Sea Pancake

#5: Sea Pancake

Looks like your home-made pancake pizza coated all over with chocolate syrup and cheese has left your plate to go explore the bottom of the sea. Scientifically known as nudibranch, the sea pancake is no certainly no pushover despite its pancake looks. And certainly, nudibranchs are hardy creatures. A food for thought: These creatures are also known as “high-fashioned models” for all their colors. Little known fact, however, remains and that is they get their colors from all the creatures they eat (e.g., sea anemones, barnacles, sponges). Creepy!

To boot, there are 800 species of the Sea Pancake inhabiting the seas of the country. Sounds like a feast of Sea Pancakes is in order, granting they’re edible.

Where to find:Philippines’ Verde Island Passage

Terrible Claw Lobster

4. Terrible Claw Lobster

This creature’s looks like it’s out to give you a beating carrying a club of sorts to break your neck. But fear not. This one is definitely no sea monster. Thanks to its size. Read: Prawn (10 cm). Another new species, this one got discovered in 2007 and was given the name Dinochelusausubeli.Dinochelus for “terrible claw” and ausubeli in honor of the world-renowned sponsor of the Census of Marine Life, Jesse Ausubel.

Technically, this one is a lobster though with an odd claw. In comparison size-wise the terrible claw lobster is a bit smaller to other species of lobster you and I take delight in devouring.

Where to find: off Luzon islands

#3: Cantor’s Giant Soft-shelled Turtle

Certainly born to stand out, Cantor’s giant soft-shelled turtle (Pelochelyscantorii) can grow up to 2 meters or about 6 feet. Not that’s so unlike that ordinary turtle you keep in your aquariums at home. Think big size with Lebron James only a bit taller and bigger.

Named after Theodore Edward Cantor, a notable Danish zoologist, this one choose to live a more reclusive life, hidden in the sands of Philippines and other Asian countriesmostly motionless. Like most “pawikans”, this one’s highly-carnivorous feeding on fish, crustaceans and mollusks.

Where to find:all over Philippine seas and in Addalam River, Quirino, Isabela

#2: “Inflatable” Shark

Certainly, not as fearsome as a Great White Shark, “inflatable” sharks has its own outstanding features not otherwise common in many sharks. Also known as bubble sharks, these sharks can grow size and look bigger, and meaner than normal to scare predators. This is because it has the distinct ability to puff up pumping water into their bellies in the process. Neat. Some bag of tricks.

Where to find:Philippines’ Verde Island Passage
Philippine Tube-nosed Fruit Bat

#1: Philippine Tube-nosed Fruit Bat

And for the final catch, the most awaited of them all: another fruit bat. But much sinister-looking. Looking at it, no doubt you could easily jump to the conclusion this is one drugged monster out to suck blood out of you. Try looking at it long enough. Good thing the only juice this bat wants are those that comes from fruits. Sadly, the Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat (Nyctimenerabori) is an endangered species and is known to feed only on insects and wild pigs.

Threat to their survival is the senseless cutting of trees as this bat prefers to hang on trees and not dwell in caves.
Where to find:Sibuyan, Negros, and Cebu rainforests.

There you have it folks, a visual feast of some sorts. Come to think of it, this list only shows how much more the Philippines has to offer. For Filipinos like you and me, this one puts a challenge right smack in our faces:Let’s not be a stranger in our own native land and strive to explore our vast rich ecosystem.

Hope this little infotainment gave you a good one. And please, do drop us a piece of your mind in the comments section below. I would certainly appreciate it if you have your own animal to add to the list too. Just don’t include your pet cat. Unless it can do a strut and dance Gung-Nam better than you. In which case, YouTube should be your next stop.

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