Philippines Welcomes More Underwater Photography Contests This Year

The Philippines is fast becoming a center for underwater photography as the country hosts two European diving competitions, as well as an international exhibit, this year.

According to the Philippine Tourism Secretary, “We are enthusiastic about welcoming divers from around the world to our shores. Activities like this help place the Philippines in the map of must-see scuba diving destinations. We attribute the influx of this market to the assertive and collaborative efforts of the Department and the private sector in reaching out to the water sports enthusiasts in Europe and other continents.”

Underwater Photography
Underwater Photography of a Stingray - courtesy of

The Department of Tourism (DOT) recently received a contingent of 36 Belgian and Dutch divers for the 15th Oceanic Underwater Photography Dive Competition at Coco Beach in Puerto Galera, Mindoro.

A major photo contest for the diving community and Belgium and the Netherlands, the Oceanic Cup is often held at the Red Sea in Egypt. This is the first time participants will be shooting in Philippine waters.

Harry Klerks, lead organizer for the Oceanic Cup and a multi-awarded underwater photographer, often found himself diving around Puerto Galera.

The idea to hold the Oceanic Cup here was finalized with a simple “Why not?” “There are many dive sites to choose from for underwater photography and the marine life is diverse, which is good for macro photography,” Klerks explained.

He added that the variety of sites and species offered by the Philippines has allowed him to expand the contest. A new award for videography is now up for grabs, in addition to the two traditional Starters and Masters photography categories.

Klerks further noted that facilities in the Philippines are also widely available, making it possible to accommodate large groups. He recounted that organizers restricted the number of participants for the Red Sea dive excursions because of the limited number of boats or that the vessels were too small.

“If all goes well, we’ll hold next year’s underwater photography competition in Philippines again and bring in more divers, perhaps from Germany and other European countries,” Klerks said.

The DOT is confident that it can meet the rising demand. According to DOT Assistant Secretary and Executive Director of the Philippine Commission on Sports and Scuba Diving Cynthia Carrion, “our islands are naturally blessed with a wealth of spectacular marine vistas. On the top side, the government and private sectors are constantly upgrading the facilities to complement the warm and hospitable people ready to assist our underwater explorers.”

Following closely the Oceanic Cup is the 4th Atlantides Plongee Photo Competition, which will be held at the Atlantis Dive Resort in Dumaguete.

The contest is quickly becoming one of the most coveted accolades among the French diving market.

The DOT is set to welcome over 25 French underwater photographers and videographers. Joining the group is Pierre Martin Razzi, Chief Editor of Sub Aqua Magazine, who will be part of this year’s jury.

The country will further host the Celebrate the Sea Marine Imagery Festival (CSMIF), the biggest underwater photography and imaging event in Asia Pacific.

Holding these events is quickly and strategically positioning the Philippine Islands as the capital of aquatic photography and cinematography in Asia.

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