So finally the 10-day Philippine Dive Seafari event comes to a close, and the final programs were done in grandiose fashion. The DOT hosted dinner on Tuesday (May 3) was where all the guests from the 4 dive sites came together for the first time. If I was star struck with the presence of Gutsy and Bob during our Bohol stint, I was totally blinded with the roster of international underwater celebrities present. These are the people whose photos and films we see on National Geographics, Discovery, BBC, IMAX, dive magazines, etc. I feel extremely honored as a Filipino that they graced the Philippine Dive Seafari event and at the same time, really proud of our awe-inspiring underwater treasure that is truly worthy of any royalty.
It was a night of merry making as old diving friends meeting again. “What a wonderful reunion it is really!“ Lynn Funkhouser, a prolific photographer and avid fan of the Philippine sea, said as she went over to hug Bob Yin and then exchange pleasantries with old friend Rick Morris. Lynn was given a special recognition by the Philippine DOT for her contribution in the promotion and conservation of Philippine seas. I was much in awe that I didn’t take a single photo this night.
Dive Seafari Closing Conference
The closing conference was held the following day at the Ayala Museum. It was a magnificent affair where these international guests gave presentation of their experience the past week in the Philippines. Dave Allen and Rick Morris for Anilao, Bob Yin for Bohol, Bob Whorton for Coron, and Alex Wu for Davao. It was evident in their presentations that they enjoyed their stay here–both underwater and on the top side.
The Philippines is not short of gifted people, that’s for sure. And this was affirmed when 2 of our accomplished underwater stars Gutsy and Marissa took the stage.
Gutsy Tuason is an award winning underwater photographer whose coffee table book, Anilao won the grand prize at the World Festival Underwater Images in Antibes, France. There are a couple more books under his name, all about the wonderful underwater world of the Philippines. He’s also an adventure traveler having dived almost everywhere in the world, including Antartica. Gutsy gave a short talk about macro photography in the Philippines and then an awesome slide show of his photos taken all over the Philippines.
Marissa Floirendo is a familiar name in the Philippine cinema, who filmed many of the few quality films produced here. Her love for underwater and scuba diving made her a natural choice to shoot memorable underwater film such as Muro Ami. She talked about the history, mission, vision of MAD about US, a project she initiated and very passionate about. She then ended with a beautiful video compilation of macro found in our underwater.
MAD about US
One of the highlight of this closing conference is the awarding of the National Champion of the MAD about US – Dive Seafari Edition. Showcase of more Filipino talents. 3 winners per region (1 in each category) were chosen, so a total of 12 pictures compete for the National Champion. For the Anilao leg, it was a grand slam for the NUDIs. I don’t know how many people joined though, maybe all contenders were NUDI members!
It’s only the beginning
In conclusion, I would say that this was a successful event! Everyone got their act together and made it all worked. I was in Bohol and I experienced first hand how well organized everything was. People who never organize events before cannot imagine how much nitty-gritty stuff is involved to coordinate the most minute details–car pick-up, hotel, food, boats, guides, etc. It’s pretty impressive because it all went so smoothly.
But as Joel (Uichico) would repeatedly say: It’s not the end but only the beginning. Now that we have a real run with international photographers as guests in our country, we’re able to note some points for improvement–for example: training of the airport customs and personnels in handling the sensitive equipments; educating and making dive resorts more sensitive to the needs of underwater photographers; training of more confident dive guides–to name a few. It’s time to get working!
It seemed that Secretary Lim was quite supportive of this project as he was present at both closing events. He was even there the whole time of the Dive Seafari conference which run for over 6 hours! Everyone hope that there’s going to be a 2nd Dive Seafari next year. I will be home for this!! :-)
This whole thing was made possible by the excellent team of DOT under Director Nelle’s office, the regional offices who are totally supportive of this project, TIEZA, PTA and its branches related to scuba diving.
On the volunteers side, much kudos should be given to the tireless effort of Joel Uichico. Without his expertise and priceless inputs, it would have been impossible to attain half of the event’s success. And a personal thanks to him for giving me this incredible opportunity.
The local hosts who did this all for the love of scuba diving and the Philippines, for free in other words–Gutsy Tuason, Marissa Floirendo, Tet Lara, Bunnee & Mike Santos, and Adrien Uichico. Nonoy Tan who is in Africa at the moment, but nonetheless a key person of this cause.
And last but definitely not the least, the fabulous sponsors. The FUEL behind these awesome machine.