The beauty of Anilao, with its seas being home to some of the rarest species in the world, has been masterfully captured in the photographs-entries to the 5th Anilao Underwater Shootout, recently mounted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and co-organized by Philippine Airlines (PAL), in Mabini, Batangas.
Dubbed as the “World Cup of Photo Competitions,” the Anilao Underwater Shootout brought together 173 divers and underwater photographers from all over Asia, Europe and North America to showcase Anilao’s immensely rich biodiversity and to promote the area as a world-class diving destination for all kinds of divers everywhere.
“Our waters sit at the center of the world’s coral triangle,” states DOT Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo in her keynote address at the competition’s awards ceremony on December 2. “One dive and you will instantly discover any of over 488 coral varieties, over 2,800 species of fish, and 5,000 species of mollusks. I hope the Anilao Underwater Shootout will be another strong avenue to showcase the country’s dive market development to the rest of the world, generate employment in the coastal communities, while also promoting the conservation of our marine ecosystem.”
In the Open Class, Macro/Supermacro category, winners are: Wu Yung Sen from Taiwan, 1st place, with a stunning photograph of a glowing crustacean; China’s Hongchao Yao, 2nd place; and Thailand’s Navapan Janjarasskul, 3rd place.
In the Open-Marine Behavior, Cem Gazivekili from Turkey took home the 1st prize for his photo of a wide-eyed fish looking into the camera; Seungchul Yang from from South Korea, 2nd; and Wen Chih Yen from Taiwan, 3rd.
Gazivekili also bagged first prize in the Nudibranch category, with his symmetrical close-up shot of a nudibranch. Taking the next two spots are China’s Songda Cai, 2nd place; and Turkey’s Hakan Basar, 3rd place.
In the Fish Portrait category, Wen Chih Yen from Taiwan bagged first place for his photo of a fish with a unique caudal fin; Wayne Jones from Austria and Dennis Corpuz from the Philippines won 2nd and 3rd prizes, respectively.
In the new Cephalopod category, Singapore’s Lilian Koh was awarded 1st place for her eerie, well-timed shot of a cephalopod on the move. Taiwan’s Wen Chih Yen and Peichi Chiang won 2nd and 3rd places, respectively.
For the Compact Class, the Macro/Supermacro category winners were PJ Aristorenas in 1st place; Penn De Los Santos, 2nd place; and Ma. Nerissa Fajardo, 3rd place – all from the Philippines.
For Marine Behavior, PJ Aristorenas again won 1st place for his photograph of a crustacean perched on top of a fish; Penn De Los Santos again took 2nd place, and Virginie Barfuss-Gofart from France placed 3rd.
In the Compact-Nudibranch category, 1st place went to the Philippines’ Ronald Dalawampu for his beautiful close-up shot of a blue and orange nudibranch; East Pardillo (2nd place) and Jonathan Christopher Veridiano (3rd place), both from the Philippines, complete the winners’ circle.
In the Fish Portrait category, Jorge Ida from the Philippines won 1st place. The two other winners were Nancy Berg (2nd place) from the United States, and PJ Aristorenas, 3rd place.
The Compact-Cephalopod category had the Philippines’ Ian Amboy bagging 1st prize; PJ Aristorenas, 2nd; and Eric Yee, also from the Philippines, 3rd.
Special prizes were won by Ryan Berg from the United States in the Special Beginners category; and Yung Sen Wu from Taiwan in the Blackwater/Bonfire category.
Named DOT-PAL Photographers of the Year were Singapore’s Lilian Koh for her Open-Cephalopod photo, and the Philippines’ PJ Aristorenas for his Compact-Macro shot.
The international event has been organized by the DOT since 2013, in line with the identification of diving as a priority tourism product in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP). “As the event grows and evolves, so does our goal in recognizing and highlighting the importance of Anilao as a dive destination with a unique and critical ecosystem,” said Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. during the awarding ceremonies at Camp Netanya in Mabini, Batangas.
This year’s panel of judges had some of the most respected names in underwater photography, namely, David Doubilet, veteran National Geographic photographer; photojournalist and aquatic biologist Jennifer Hayes; Singapore’s William Tan; Germany’s Tobias Friedrich; Palme D’or winning photographer Scott “Gutsy” Tuason; and Yoshi Hirata, Cebu-based Japanese marine researcher.
The 5th Anilao Underwater Shootout was mounted in partnership with Nauticam and ScubaLamp Underwater Photography Equipment (SUPE), and is sponsored by Weefine, Fun In Taiwan (FIT), Pacifica Dive, RGBlue, Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort, Buceo Anilao Beach and Dive Resort, Camp Netanya Resort and Spa, Pier Uno Resort and Dive Center, Balicasag Island Dive Resort, and Azure Dive Resort.