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In December, the hybrid Anilao ‘underwater shootout’ will begin.

The famed Anilao Underwater Shootout (AUS) will return after a two-year break, this time in a hybrid format, to showcase the country’s beautiful diving locations.

The underwater photography competition will take place in Anilao, Batangas, from December 1 to 5, and is expected to highlight the country’s “readiness to welcome back dive visitors” and maintain its status as the world’s top diving destination.

The inauguration of the event, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT), is consistent with the gradual and safe return of dive activities in the new normal.

To protect Anilao’s unique and essential ecology, AUS has pledged to continue to follow the “no marine life tampering” regulation, a stringent protocol that has set the bar for other underwater photography competitions across the world.

“The Anilao Underwater Shootout is not just a competition, but also a forum to raise awareness throughout the world about the significance of protecting our fragile reefs and marine ecosystems for future generations,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat stated.

The stated rules and point system, along with the skills of highly experienced judges from diverse disciplines, are also in place, according to AUS Director Oliver Ang, to discourage faked photos.

Famous underwater photographers Mike Bartick, Scott Gutsy Tuason, and William Tan, as well as Underwater360 Group founder John Thet, make up this year’s panel of judges.

Underwater photography gear brands Nauticam, Scubalamp, AOI, XDEEP, Crest, and Fourth Element will provide prizes to winners across the competition’s categories.

AUS, nicknamed the “world cup of underwater photo competitions,” began in 2013 with the goal of promoting Anilao as a renowned underwater photography destination and bringing together the most illustrious local and international divers and photographers in one location.

Over 220 candidates from 23 nations competed in the 2018 edition of the competition.

The Department of Transportation said that the event will be live-streamed so that divers and photographers from across the world may watch the competition and the judges’ nightly underwater photography lectures.

Pre-pandemic, foreigners flocked to the Philippines to dive into a variety of locations. Apart from Anilao, some of the country’s reopened diving destinations include Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Camiguin in Malapascua, Cebu, and Dauin in the Negros Oriental.

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