As a sign of the country’s return to normalcy, the Department of Tourism (DOT) recently held the 8th Anilao Underwater Shootout in Mabini, Batangas, the birthplace of scuba diving in the archipelago.
Regarded as the “World Cup of Underwater Photo Competitions”, the international 3-day shootfest showcased the rich marine biodiversity of the town and gathered 153 participants from 14 countries which included Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, and the Philippines.
The second since the Covid-19 pandemic, the competition received 426 entries from two classes and 14 categories.
DOT Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco said the event strengthens the country’s position as among the world’s top destinations for diving and underwater photography. She said that through the competition, the DOT will expand the Philippine dive market with programs that promote and help preserve its rich underwater world.
Lying at the center of the earth’s Coral Triangle, the Anilao and Balayan Bay dive area boasts some 42 spots scattered across the municipalities of Mabini, Bauan, and Tingloy. It has 319 coral species, 262 fish species, 4 marine protected areas, and other aquatic animals such as dolphins, stingrays, sea turtles, and occasional whale sharks. It also abounds in nudibranchs, which has made the area the world’s second most popular macro underwater photography site.
Winners bagging P 1.7 M worth of underwater photography gear from event partners and sponsors AOI, Divers Point Co., Fourth Element, Marelux, Migalabs, Nauticam, Nautilus Dive and Sports Center, Raptor Case, Scubalamp, Scuba Studio, Squires Sports, and XDeep.
First held in 2013, the Anilao Underwater Shootout was held in partnership with the Mabini Tourism Office, DOT Calabarzon Regional Office, Solitude Acacia Resort, Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort, Lakan, Underwater 360 and Dive Marketing Media.
In photo at the event’s awarding ceremony are DOT Calabarzon regional director Marites Castro, DOT assistant secretary Verna Covar-Buensuceso, Dive Photographer of the Year awardee (open class) Kim Kyung Shin, Mabini municipal tourism officer Florian Bueno, and Shootout judge Scott Gutsy Tuason.