The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, together with the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-BMB), recently concluded its fourth annual photo competition “Selfie for Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism 2017”, in commemoration of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) on May 22.
This year, after a strict screening of the over 600 entries received, GIZ and DENR-BMB chose Cebu-based student Marrise Tumampos’ entry “Follow Me, Humans” as the grand winner for the selfie category. In the photo, Tumampos was able to showcase a swimming sea turtle, one of the country’s critically endangered marine species – as if guiding the direction underwater. Asked about what she thinks her role is in protecting Philippine biodiversity, Tumampos stated “Everybody has responsibilities in being a steward for the environment. We all need to take care of our rich biodiversity because it doesn’t only help boost our tourism; biodiversity supports the variety of life.”
Meanwhile, Mark Joseph Francisco bagged the grand prize for the nonselfie category with his entry “Biodiversity and Historical Treasures.” Francisco shared the picturesque view of the forest from the cave in Biak na Bato. For him, saving our country’s biodiversity is in the hands of the Filipinos. “We can still protect our biodiversity through research, individual action, public policy, and education. There’s a lot that we can personally do in the preservation of species and the ecosystem as a whole. We can do it our own way, we can start at home.”
Tumampos and Francisco will receive an all-expenses paid trip to any of the protected areas or biodiversity areas under the jurisdiction of the DENR-BMB or a project site of GIZ-PAME Project, except for the Islands of Batanes.
In the past years, the competition has also already been able to jet off aspiring photographers to their dream destinations. Allan Jay Quesada, the winner of last year’s “Selfie for Biodiversity” went on a five-day, all-expense paid trip to Gunung Leuser National Park in Medan, Indonesia. Thanks to his entry called “The Livelihood Stairway”, taken at the Banaue Rice Terraces, he was able to see this national park, a grasslands area-turned-forest which also boasts of an elephant sanctuary.
That same year, Danny Ocampo won first runner-up with his entry “Ancient Sea Turtle”. The photo was taken in Apo Island and features one of the island’s sea turtles which has given the island a boost in tourism as one of the most popular dive spots in the country. For his winning entry, Ocampo was able to travel to Busuanga where he searched for dugongs, as well as Coron, where he was able to explore different dive spots.
Meanwhile, Erickson Tabayag was able to bag the competition in 2015 with his entry “Saving Little Birdie”, taken at a mangrove forest restoration area near his home in Palawan.
In 2014, meanwhile, Rei Gallardo, Jr. was awarded the grand prize for his entry Mt. Pulag. In the photo, he is shown taking a photo of himself with the majestic pine trees of Mt. Pulag in Benguet in the background. That same year, Andrea Gaurana won the phone and mobile device category with her entry “Dulang-Dulang”, taken at Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon.
With this year’s theme being “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism”, the contest challenged everyone to capture scenes showing efforts to sustain biodiversity and how biodiversity is connected to sustainable tourism.