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What Lies Beneath? - a Homage to Our Rich Marine Biodiversity

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What lies beneath?

A homage to our rich marine biodiversity

By Jing T. Eufracio

Everyday we get to see the beauty of God's creation. The green mountains and hills and plains covered in lush vegetation, the clear and crisp blue sky dotted with cottony white clouds that may at times turn scary crimson, and the vast seas and oceans that extend to eternity, these are just few of the things bequeathed to us by the Creator so that we may live in abundance. Thousands of centuries have passed and the landscape has changed, yet the rhythm of the cycle of life remains. For every dawn there is dusk; with every beginning there's an end; with every life there is death. But with what the eye can perceive, can we really say we understand its unfathomable depth?

The are more things about the earth that breathe the same rhythm of life, yet we are excluded from understanding them because we are constrained by the reach of our myopic vision. Yes, it's the proverbial tip of the iceberg that limits us to our very own concentric universe. But outside our realm, there is a parallel universe that breathes, pulsates, and follows the same rhythm as ours to continue a higher calling of providing balance to the ecology.

Going down under awakens us to the bounty, if not beauty, of a mysterious macrocosm that marches on its own cadence while supporting life on land. Divers explore the deep seas to integrate with life forms that we may never see; photographers strive to capture the beauty of the oceans for us, the land dwellers, to see and appreciate. This, exactly, encapsulates the objectives of the 1st SNUPS (Splash-NUDI Underwater Photoshootout) Photo Exhibit, an amateur and professional photo and video competition for divers/photographers.

According to Mr. Jovic Santos of SPLASH UW Photo-Video Equipment Pro Shop, the objectives of the event were: to further promote & showcase the Philippines as an uncontested world-class SCUBA diving paradise which leaves rich experience among scuba divers, most especially underwater photographers and videographers; to reinforce the Philippine's claim to fame as the center of marine biodiversity in the heart of the coral triangle; to create interest and curiosity amongst tourists that will eventually erase the bad image when it comes to safety and that will ultimately reduce travel bans hurled at the Philippines; to be the anchor event for Philippine underwater imaging competitions that set standards on diver shooting etiquettes, pre & post dive proper handling of imaging gear by dive staff and photo-video diver friendly dive resorts; to showcase the splendor of our oceans, which will provide the opportunity for other divers and non-divers alike to gain awareness on the importance of environmental conservation. It was also an event that aimed to foster the development and recognition of one's underwater photo or video talent that will act as a stepping-stone to further a career in underwater imaging.

The event ran from May 20-June 7, 2011, with the Anilao leg (May 20-24), Dauin leg (May 27-30) and Cebu leg (June 3-7). The event tapped Anilao in Batangas for having been known globally to have the most diverse species of nudibranchs and macro life. Dauin in Negros has been known as the marine sanctuary of Apo Island. Malapascua, Moalboal and Tingo in Cebu, home to the home of thresher sharks and sardine run.

The culmination was an awarding and photo exhibit at the Peoples Village in Tiendesitas last July 23, 2011. Of the 82 participants (locals, tourists, expats), 16 emerged winners, with total 537 photos judged based on the criteria: Exposure & Sharpness - 25%; Lighting - Color Rendition - 20%; Composition, Framing & Choice of Viewpoint - 25%; Visual Impact - 10%; Originality and Style - 10%. Up for grabs were pieces of diving gear worth US$ 15,000.00 and so much more.

Four foreign judges, all of them renowned in the field, judged the maiden event. Hideki Iwama is a photographer who specializes in underwater photography. He also takes photos of nature, sports and bridal photography in Tokyo. It was during his university days that he took up scuba diving as a hobby and then underwater photography became a natural progression. Lynn Funkhouser is an internationally published photographer, author, lecturer, environmentalist, world adventuress, and leader in Philippine dive travel. She is an ardent proponent, eloquent spokesperson, and catalyst for protection of the aquatic environment. Lynn has been diving and photographing in the Philippines two months a year, every year, since 1976. She has dived over 260 islands, making her an expert on diving in the Philippines who often works with the Philippine Department of Tourism to promote diving. A multi-awarded diver/photographer, Michael AW's one of his accomplishments include a book: "Philippines- Heart of the Ocean", was awarded the Palme D'or at the world FESTIVAL MONDIAL DE Images Sous Marine in France in 2009. Steve De Neef is

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