The vibrant marine life and biodiversity of Anilao in Batangas took the spotlight during the 8th Anilao Underwater Shootout (AUS), held from May 22 to 26. Often referred to as the “World Cup of Underwater Photography,” this event celebrates the beauty and diversity of the underwater world while further establishing Anilao as a premier diving and photography hotspot.
Organized by the Department of Tourism (DOT) since 2013, the competition aims to grow the country’s dive market while actively advocating for protecting and preserving marine resources.
This year, a total of 153 participants from 14 countries gathered in Anilao for the five-day event, including participants from Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States.
The AUS attracts both amateur and professional underwater photographers who submit entries in various categories such as macro/supermacro, marine behavior, nudibranch, fish portrait, blackwater/bonfire, and wide angle. This year’s edition received a total of 426 entries, showcasing the talent and creativity of the participants.
Eric Javier was awarded the DOT Photographer of the Year title for the Compact class, while Kim Kyung Shin took the DOT Photographer of the Year title for the Open class.
Winners were awarded a total of P1.7 million worth of underwater photography gear from event partners and sponsors, highlighting the support and recognition this competition receives within the industry.
The esteemed panel of judges included renowned underwater photographers Aaron Wong, Brook Peterson, Franco Banfi, Rafael Fernandez Caballero, and Scott Gutsy Tuason.
During the ceremony, DOT Undersecretary Verna Buensuceso acknowledged the efforts of the different stakeholders in revitalizing the diving industry while ensuring the sustainability of Anilao’s unique ecosystem.
“[The AUS] is a big boost to the promotion of dive tourism in the Philippines and also to the rebooting of the travel and tourism industry in the Philippines,” Buensuceso said.
Over the years, the AUS has also contributed to the growth of local communities by providing economic opportunities in the tourism industry.
The photographs captured during the competition serve as powerful tools to educate and inspire people to protect marine resources. Through the lens of underwater photographers, individuals are reminded of the wonders beneath the surface and the importance of preserving these fragile ecosystems for generations to come.
The success of the 8th Anilao Underwater Shootout was made possible through the collaboration of various partners, including Mabini Tourism, DOT Region 4A Calabarzon, Solitude Acacia Resort, Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort, and Lakan. The event was also supported by Underwater 360 and Dive Marketing Media.