The Philippines reinforces its standing as the premier underwater photography destination in Asia, as the DOT hosts the 6th edition of the Anilao Underwater Shootout in the resort town of Mabini, Batangas, from November 27 to December 1, 2018.
Dubbed as the “World Cup of Underwater Photo Competitions,” the photo tilt is organized by the DOT in cooperation with the Mabini Local Government and the Resort Owners Association of Mabini (ROAM). With more than 40,000 US Dollars worth of dive packages, dive and underwater photography equipment, gears and accessories up for grabs, the shootout is again expected to gather more than 150 local and foreign participants.
Last year’s competition drew 175 eager participants from 17 countries like Singapore, China, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Turkey, Portugal, USA, Switzerland, Germany, Hong Kong, France, Australia, Canada, and the Philippines. The event also saw the first-ever woman in Singaporean Lilian Koh, to bag the top prize as DOT Photographer of the Year (Open Class) for her 1st-place Cephalopod category photo of a squid, and Filipino veteran diver and underwater photographer PJ Aristorenas to win the DOT Photographer of the Year Award for his 1st-place macro photograph of a skeleton shrimp.
The international event is unrivalled in taking action towards the sustainability of dive tourism in the destination by putting in place guidelines to help ensure the protection and conservation of marine life during the competition proper, with registered guides and spotters required to attend a safety briefing and sign a “Code of Conduct.”
“Through the support and cooperation of the Mabini local government and resort owners, we are able implement a strict No Marine Life Manipulation policy by employing the assistance of spotters and dive guides in monitoring and reporting untoward behavior underwater. With the involvement of local stakeholders, we ensure the enhancement and attractiveness of Anilao as a leading dive destination in the world,” explains Undersecretary for Tourism Development, Benito C. Bengzon, Jr., a certified diver himself.
“Moreover, the masterfully photographed entries of the unique critters will highlight the need to protect the beauty of the Anilao seas and its rich biodiversity,” added Undersecretary Bengzon.
Comprising the panel of judges at this year’s shootout are some of the industry’s most illustrious names in photography, such as widely published French naturalist photographer and marine biologist Laurent Ballesta; award-winning Belgian underwater and wildlife photographer Ellen Cuylaerts; and Singapore-based macro photography expert and 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Indra Swari, among others.
The competition will have two classes: Open Class for participants with any type of camera and accessories, in which published and professional photographers will automatically be placed; and Compact Class, exclusively for participants using cameras without interchangeable camera lenses. Mirrorless, SLR, and similar types of cameras are not permitted in this class. The categories for the competition will be: Macro/Supermacro, Marine Behavior, Nudibranch, Fish Portrait, and Cephalopod. Two special categories will also offered at this year’s competition: Blackwater and Bonfire, which must feature animals found and photographed by doing either blackwater and bonfire dives; and another special category for beginners which will be announced soon.
Each category will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd placers for both Open and Compact classes, while special categories will have one (1) winner each, with the DOT awarding the Photographer of the Year, with one winner each for the Open and Compact Classes.