The 8th Anilao Underwater Shootout made a splash with its closing and awarding ceremonies held recently at Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort in Mabini, Batangas.
This underwater photography event was first held in 2013 to support diving as a priority tourism product in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP). It took a break for a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, only local underwater photographers participated because of travel restrictions.
The sleepy towns of Anilao and Mabini have long been a paradise for diving and windsurfing. But for those looking for underwater scenery to take one’s breath away, the cool waters and corals will delight newbies and experienced divers alike.
For beginners, the Anilao resorts offer one of the best first-time underwater experiences, many having house reefs where newbie divers literally walk out into the waters with scuba gear after a short briefing for a quick but awe-inspiring peek into the biodiversity of the region.
For professionals and experienced divers, the region offers almost 40 documented dive sites supported by the numerous resorts and dive shops. Along with these dive sites is a thriving community for spotters and dive masters who know the region like the back of their hands and can lead divers into anything from wide fields of coral to critters that go swish in the night to deep underwater caves.
This year, =Anilao welcomed 153 photographers from Australia, China, Germany, France, Hong Kong Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey, Thailand, Singapore, United States, along with Philippine underwater photographers who explored the depths of the Mabini-Tingloy region for four days to capture images that astound, amaze, and awe.
Dive Philippines, the arm of the Department of Tourism in charge of dive promotions, assembled a powerhouse board of judges: Swiss wildlife photographer and tour operator Franco Banfi, Spanish NatGeo storyteller Rafael Caballero, American underwater photography journalist and educator Brook Peterson, Singaporean commercial photographer and diver Aaron Wong, and Anilao resident expert Scott Gutsy Tuason.
The judges pored over 426 entries in the "Compact" (cameras with fixed lenses for beginners) and "Open" (no limitations camera, body, and lenses for professional and experienced competitors) classes across Macro/Supermacro, Marine Behavior, Nudibranch, and Fish Behavior categories with special awards Wide Angle and Blackwater/Bonfire categories.
Take a look at this year's winners:
Special Prize - Wide Angle: Mark Chang
Special prize - Blackwater/Bonfire: Dennis Corpuz
Compact – Macro: Regie Casia
Compact – Marine Behavior: Regie Casia
Compact – Nudibranch: Jayson Cedric Apostol
Compact – Fish Portrait: Eric Javier
Open – Macro: Kim Kyung Shin
Open – Marine Behavior: Dennis Corpuz
Open – Nudibranch: Dennis Corpuz
Open – Fish Portrait: Deniz Muzaffer Gökmen
Photographers rely on their dive guides/spotters to lead them to best locations to find the critters in their photograph. DOT Photographers of the Year and their dive guides were chosen among the winners. Kim Kyung Shin and his dive guide Roberto Corpuz won in the Open class, while Eric Javier and dive guide Louie Casapao took the award in the Compact class.
Winners went home with 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.
The 8th Anilao Underwater Shootout was mounted in partnership with Mabini Tourism, DOT Region 4 A Calabarzon #DiscoverCalabarzon, Solitude Acacia Resort, Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort, and Lakan. The event is also supported by Underwater 360 and Dive Marketing Media.