MANILA — Extra, extra, read all about it: Woman gives birth to fish!
If that's too tame, how about randy spooks impregnating maidens? Or perhaps a "routine" appearance by the Virgin Mary?
Such reports are a staple of Manila's lively tabloids, among the most widely read of the city's more than 20 dailies.
In a country where the truth is often bizarre enough, English- and Tagalog-language tabloids dish out fantasy and flamboyance for those who find the broadsheet dailies too tame.
The latest titillation was the saga of "Goldfish Flores Pascua," a 6-inch-long mudfish supposedly "born" to Lilian Pascua, 22, of Paniqui in Tarlac province.
Several Manila tabloids reported that Pascua gave birth to the fish on March 31 and named it "Goldfish." Tabloids splashed pictures of "Goldfish," swimming in a water basin, and its "parents" on their front pages.
For several days, tabloids regaled their readers with details of the couple's plans to baptize the fish on Palm Sunday, despite healthy skepticism by local officials.
"I think a fish should not be baptized and registered because it doesn't even have the resemblance of a man," said Paniqui Mayor Cesar Cuchapin.
The baptism controversy was resolved when tabloids reported last week that "Goldfish's" short but celebrated life had come to an end. It was eaten by the family dog.
With "Goldfish" now history, the tabloid Ang Pilipino Ngayon, or Filipino Today, reported that an 8-year-old boy had given birth by Cesarean section in a hospital in Pampanga province. The baby, a boy, was stillborn, the tabloid reported.
Not to be scooped, Manila radio station DZXL telephoned the hospital and spoke with an official, who confirmed that something resembling a fetus had been extracted from the boy.
"How could he give birth when he is only 8 years old," the reporter asked, apparently more curious over age than the sex peculiarity. The official was at a loss for a response.
Many of the far-fetched reports play on traditions of mysticism and superstition which run deep in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.
"Goldfish" attracted almost as much attention as a teen-aged girl in Laguna province, who the tabloids reported two years ago became pregnant by the spirit of a 19th-Century cleric.
Apparitions by the Virgin Mary are frequently reported, although the church hierarchy tends to give them little credence. The most recent was reported last year, when the Virgin supposedly appeared in a coconut grove southeast of Manila.