MANILA – After a two-year hiatus, the prestigious Anilao Underwater Shootout (AUS) will once again showcase the country's pristine diving spots, this time in a hybrid set-up.
The underwater photography contest will be held from Dec. 1 to 5 in Anilao, Batangas and is expected to highlight the country's "readiness to welcome back dive tourists" and sustain its position as the world’s leading dive destination.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Wednesday said the event's opening is consistent with the gradual and safe resumption of the dive activities in the new normal.
And to safeguard Anilao’s unique and critical ecosystem, it assured that AUS will continue to implement the “no marine life manipulation” policy, a strict guideline that has set standards for other underwater photography competitions in the world.
“The Anilao Underwater Shootout is not only a competition but also a platform to communicate to the world the importance of safeguarding our delicate reefs and marine ecosystems for future generations,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
AUS Director Oliver Ang said the set rules and point system combined with the expertise of highly experienced judges from various fields are also in place to discourage manipulated images.
Comprising this year’s panel of judges are renowned underwater photographers Mike Bartick, Scott Gutsy Tuason, and William Tan, along with Underwater360 Group founder John Thet.
Winners across the competition's categories will be awarded prizes from underwater photography gear brands Nauticam, Scubalamp, AOI, XDEEP, Crest, and Fourth Element.
AUS, dubbed as the "world cup of underwater photo competitions", was launched in 2013 to promote Anilao as a premier underwater photography destination and gather the most illustrious local and international divers and photographers in one venue.
In its 2018 edition, over 220 contestants from 23 countries participated in the event.
The DOT said it will live stream the event so that divers and photographers abroad could still monitor the competition and the nightly underwater photography seminars by the judges.
The Philippines is home to a multitude of dive destinations that foreigners frequent pre-pandemic. Apart from Anilao, some of the re-opened dive sites in the country include Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro; Camiguin, Malapascua, Cebu; and Dauin, Negros Oriental. (PNA)