One of the biggest underwater macro photography competitions in the world, the Anilao Underwater Shootout is again happening in Mabini, Batangas, better known as Anilao.
This was announced in the first Dive Philippines Travel Mart, with the Diving Resort Travel Show Philippines, the largest exhibition showcasing the best deals from the Philippine Diving Industry.
Sponsored by the Department of Tourism, the 5th Anilao Underwater Shootout is expected to attract photography enthusiasts from the world over.
Last year’s competition had more than 170 participants, including underwater photographers from Brazil, Turkey, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Korea.
This year’s competition, set from November 28-December 2, is expected to attract more than 200 divers.
Judges include famous nature photographers David Doubilet (US), Jennifer Hayes (US), Gutsy Tuason (Philippines) and Tobias Friedrich (Germany). Registration, and opening and closing ceremonies will be held at the official resort, Acacia Resort and Dive Center.
Categories are Nudibranch, Marine Behavior, Fish Portrait and Creative Macro.
“Anilao is one of the most visited for underwater macro photography. One of the crowd drawers is its beaches. Lobo, Batangas, is the center of the world’s marine biodiversity where the Verde Island Passage is located,” said Rebecca Villanueva-Labit, regional director, DOT IV Calabarzon.
Calabarzon is one of the most visited by domestic tourists, she said, with 500,000 visitors every week, 15 percent of whom are foreigners. Labit said that tourism in Anilao is so vibrant, but the destination can have only so many visitors.
“We need to develop it more since it caters not only to divers but also to those learning how to dive. You can already see beautiful things in 3-ft deep water,” she said.
The underwater reefs in the Verde Island Passage are home to nearly 60 percent of the world’s known shore fish. There are endangered species such as sea turtles like hawksbills, olive ridley and green turtles; humphead wrasses, giant groupers and giant clams. It is also where more than 300 species of corals thrive, one of the largest concentrations of corals in the country.
“We are pushing Anilao to become the underwater macro photography destination of the world. We’ve had a lot of big-name photographers and scientists come to Anilao, and they all say Anilao is one of the best in the world especially for marine biodiversity. We have all the rare stuff,” said Oliver Ang of Scuba Studio, organizer of the Anilao Underwater Shootout 2017.
The DOT is also pushing the Philippines to become the freediving capital of the world. Last July, DOT announced that multiple world record-holder and two-time freediving world champion, Frenchman Guillaume Néry, is the face of Philippine freediving.
Promoting freediving at Dive Philippines Travel Mart was Carlo P. Navarro, founder of ManuMano Freedive Training Center based in Anilao, Batangas. Navarro has held over 10 records in five out of six competition disciplines, and topped the 2014 Andaman Freediving Challenge in Koh Lanta.