Beautiful Images From Under The Sea, Manila Times, 09/07
By Lea Manto-Beltran
Source: Manila Times
CONSIDERED the center of biodiversity and home to some of the richest coral reefs in the world, the Philippines will play host to the largest and most exciting marine festival of its kind in the Asia Pacific, the Celebrate the Sea Marine Imagery Festival from September 21 to 23 at The Coconut Palace in Manila.
Touted as the Cannes of Underwater Film Festival, this biggest and most prestigious event concerning the sea will gather the who’s who of ocean imagery. These are the people who write the books, make the groundbreaking documentaries and capture the mesmerizing images of our natural world.
“We are pleased that the country has been chosen as the venue for this event. This strengthens our place in the map of international water sports sites,” muses Tourism Secretary Ace Durano. He further revealed that the festival presenter intends to make Manila the home of the annual event until 2009.
Michael Aw, director of Ocean Environment, Ocean Geographic, who was the guest speaker during the launching of Celebrate Manila recently, said that the organizers decided to hold this most-awaited event in the Philippines because they believe the Philippines has one of the richest marine life sanctuaries in the world. He also confirmed that there are plans to make the Philippines the permanent home for the festival for three years. This is expected to position the country as the capital of underwater imagery in the Asia Pacific.
Some of the world’s most renowned luminaries of the sea from USA, France, Australia, Singapore and Belgium are expected to convene at the main venue for the presentation of the world’s best underwater images, conservation forums, seminars, photo galleries and screenings of the winning films from the World Festival of Underwater Pictures and Celebrate the Sea’s own international imagery competitions.
A well-known documentary-photographer, Aw is known for his saturated color imagery. Over 20,000 of his images and his work on environmental issues and natural history have been featured in BBC Wildlife, Asian Geographic, GEO, Tauchen, Action Asia, Asia Week, Unterwasser and the Smithsonian magazine. His photographs have received awards from several international organizations including the prestigious Nikon International Photo Contest on three occasions.
He is also the founding director of Ocean Environment, a charity organization with a mission to promote and initiate preservation projects as well as to documenting the status of the coral reefs, bio-diversity and the impacts of manmade pollution through research programs and educational expeditions.
DOT Assistant Secretary Cynthia Carrion, who is also the executive director of the Philippine Commission on Sports and Scuba Diving, is very pleased with the partnership. “This is a dream come true for everyone of us.” Carrion has been asking Aw to visit the country and after the third try, Aw finally said yes and has been a regular visitor since then.
Aw continued, “It’s now my fifth visit to the Philippines and I always discover something new. The Filipino people are blessed to have these kind of marine life.” Carrion is also positive that this event will place the Philippines in the map of the international dive sites.
Participants of the event can join the following activities: Wow Shoot Out—participants will be shooting from September 16 to 21 at Puerto Galera and Anilao; the results will be announced during the awards presentation ceremony on the evening of September 22 at the Garden Pavilion, Sofitel.
Meanwhile, the International Underwater Film Festival will also present the top winners from the World Underwater Pictures Festival.
One of the highlights will be the International Underwater Imagery competition. According to Aw, there are now over 2000 entries in nine categories from 38 countries. Finalists’ prints can be viewed at the main venue galleries.
The presenters during the three-day event include the world’s most published underwater photographer and author team—David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes of the National Geographic fame and multiawards music of the sea composer Eric Bettens from Belgium. Joining the panel are big animal photographer Amos Nachom, Daniel Mercier—the president of the World Festival of Underwater pictures—and a host of celebrated underwater image makers like Lynn Funkhouser, Michel AW, Scott Tuason, Mathieu Meur and Gunther Deichmann.
This year, the marine science and conservation forum panel is composed of Bryan Dias of Coral Reef Alliance, Stuart Green of Reef Check and Ferdie Macelo of Seacology. Joining the speakers and judging panel will be John Thet from Scuba Diver Australia, Jason Heller of Dive PhotoGuide, Joe Moreira of Ocean Geographic, Peter Syme of XRay and Steve White of Action Asia.
Celebrate the Sea Festival in Asia is part of Ocean Environment’s continuing effort to raise the awareness of our beautiful oceans and its Say No to Sharks Fin Campaign. It is held in collaboration with the world underwater film festival at Antibes, Juan Les Pin.
For more information on festival entry, master-passes and events, check out www.celebratethesea.com