6th Anilao Underwater Shootout continues to Promote Fun and Sustainable Tourism

Located at the center of the center of marine biodiversity of the world, there’s no doubt why divers from all parts of the planet flocked to the resort town of Anilao in Mabini, Batangas at any given time to get a glimpse of the wondrous offerings of the province.

Last weekend, together with some bloggers, I had a privilege to visit this humble town to witness the awarding ceremony of the 6th Anilao Underwater Shootout. This is an annual gathering and competition of divers all over the world to capture and further discover the rich and protected underwater world of Anilao, Batangas.

For five days – from November 28 to December 2 – Anilao together with the Department of Tourism (DOT) hosted for the sixth consecutive year the prestigious underwater shootout promoting fun and sustainable tourism in the Philippines. Organized and sponsored by the DOT in cooperation with resort owners, dive operators, dive masters, and local Mabini, Batangas stakeholders, the competition puts emphasis on macro underwater photography to capture the rich and glorious marine life of Anilao and of the Philippines.

“A right photo is better than a good photo,”  William Tan, judge of the 6th Anilao Underwater Shootout.

Dubbed as the “World Cup of Underwater Photo Competitions,” the 6th Anilao Underwater Shootout was participated by an overwhelming 241 participants from 24 countries such as Austria, Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, USA, UK, France, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines and more.

This year’s competition was judged by some of the world’s top underwater photographers and environmentalist such as Laurent Ballesta, who rediscover and published about the elusive specie Coelacanth, an ancient fish that has been around for more than 360 million years. The contest also had Indra Swariw, a 15-year underwater photographer, Ellen Cuylaerts, an award-winning Belgian photographer, Willian Tan, renowned Singapore-based underwater photographer and John Thet, president of Media Publisher Association Singapore.

Thank you, Saltitude Dive and Beach Resort, for the wonderful accommodation!

The competition was composed of two classes – Open Class and Compact Class. This year’s competition also introduced three new categories – the Blackwater, Bonfire and Beginners, which must feature animals found and photographed by doing either blackwater and bonfire dives, while beginner are for those who uses action cameras. DOT also awarded Photographer of the Year for the top Open and Compact Classes photographers.
More than US$40,000 worth of dive packages, dive and underwater photography equipment, gears and accessories were given to winners.

Challenges and Future Plans
When asked about the challenges of hosting this prestigious event in one of the most beautiful but delicate destination such as Anilao, Batangas, DOT Assistant Secretary Roberto Alabado III mentioned that given the support and organization Anilao has practiced from the first year of Anilao Underwater Shootout up to this year, the challenges was almost minimal to none.

“With 241 participants, it would have been a really big problem, but fortunately we have a very, very cooperative community here. The logistics were well taken-cared of by the local government unit, and at the same time the support that came from the different resorts have been very helpful to make this event very successful,” Asst. Sec. Alabado added.

For next year, the DOT is planning to replicate this event in provinces that have dive spots and are ready for the influx of tourists such as in Puerto Galera, Cebu, Dumaguete, Palawan and Bohol. The DOT is also looking into emerging provinces with equally interesting dive spots to attract more tourists such as in Leyte, Camiguin in Northern Mindanao and the Samal Island in Davao.

“These province have expressed interest in creating an event like this given the renowned beautiful marine life of the Philippines, but maybe we will suggest to have it with a different subject or another type of diving to encourage other diving professionals in the world to visit our country,” Asst. Sec. Alabado said.

“Local Government Units have to have policies - the right policies – so that we can have sustainable tourism and at the same time inviting, diver-friendly policies to encourage more responsible tourists in our country,” Asst. Sec. Alabado concluded.

Here are the winner of the 6th Anilao Underwater Shootout. Photos are downloaded from their official Facebook Page.

Anilao, Mabini, Batangas is just two hours away from Manila, via SLEX and STAR (Southern Tagalog Arterial Road) Tollway. There are a lot of resorts and diving centers once you get there, but its best that you booked your accommodation ahead of time since foreign tourists come to the province any time of the year.

For details and other information about Anilao Underwter Shootout, you may visit their website http://anilaoshootout.ph/. You can also follow them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/anilaounderwatershootout/). 

Congratulations, Anilao and Department of Tourism!

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