03 February, 2009

Announcing the Biggest Event of the Ocean in the Asia Pacific…

The following post has been kindly contributed by Michael Aw, Director of Ocean Geographic:
Announcing the Biggest Event of the Ocean in the Asia Pacific…
The 8th Celebrate the Sea Festival 2009
12-14 June, Manila Ocean Park, Philippines

A Mardi gras, an International Underwater Imagery Festival, a day to Celebrate!
Manifesting in an official proclamation in 2008 by the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Her Excellency, Gloria Arroyo, declared the month of June to be the Celebrate the Sea month and the second Saturday in every June to be the Celebrate the Sea Day.

Now into its 8th year, the Celebrate the Sea Festival is confirmed for Manila this June and to add greater fervour to the celebration of Philippines 1st official Celebrate the Sea Day.

The success of the festival in 2008 received participation from a global audience of novice and professional competitors, children, nature and ocean lovers, celebrated luminaries such as five times Emmy award winners, Stan Waterman, National Geographic explorer Emory Kristof, founder of the world Underwater Picture Festival Daniel Mercier, five times world record free diving champion Frederic Buyle to name but a few. In collaboration with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Philippines Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD), OceanNEnvironment looks forward to the biggest and most exciting festival ever to be stage in the Asia Pacific.

Adding to the highlights of this year activities, a mardi gras of the ocean’s flora and fauna will be initiated for participation from all the provinces of the Philippines. “This is the first ever mardi gras of the sea and we will make sure that it is the most joyous, filled with fun, music and dancing on the streets of Roxas Boulevard” said Under Secretary Cynthia Carrion. Confirmed to attend for the 2009 festival, are international luminaries and underwater photography legends from National Geographic David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes, BBC’s Blue Planet & Planet Earth Cinematographer Peter Scoone, deep sea explorer and inventor Phil Nyutten PhD, coral spawning discoverer Carden Wallace PhD and many more associates of the Ocean Geographic Society.

Celebrate the Sea has seen the greatest increase in competitors since its inception in 2002 with over 5500 entries from 38 countries in 2008. The 2009 festival is destined to be bigger and bolder than ever before. The main venue for the 3 days festival from 12 to 14 June is once again the landmark at Manila Bay foreshore, the Manila Ocean Park, the Philippines’ first state-of-the-art Oceanarium comprising of open water marine habitat, boutique mall, and restaurants.

With the Philippine as our role model, being the first ever to declare an official day to celebrate the sea, the primary objective of the festival still remains; to have every country in the world dedicate a day to remember and celebrate the sea- like a Christmas or a New Years day. If and when it is achieved, then most certainly the current dreadful state of the sea will have hope redeemed for the coming generations of humanity. For now, Celebrate the Sea is the biggest underwater picture festival outside of Europe where the ‘World Festival of Underwater Pictures’ (Festival Mondial de l'Image Sous Marine) is staged annually in Antibes, France, now in its 36th year. Celebrate the Sea festival is seen as the dominant platform to promote conservation, marine tourism, providing education and entertainment to create greater awareness of our ocean environment. The world’s best marine images and films have a powerful effect on both the diving and non-diving community.

The 2009 festival will comprise of imagery presentations and seminars by a panel of celebrated underwater luminaries, image makers and marine scientists. One of the principal highlights is the International Underwater film festival; 15 recent award winning features from the World Festival of Underwater Pictures, Antibes will be presented at Celebrate the Sea. There will also be a photo exhibition of benchmarked underwater images by some of the world's best underwater photographers plus all the prints in the competition.

Photographers and films makers, send in your entries now to compete in Asia Pacific's most prestigious international underwater imagery competition where the premier prize is the conferred title of ‘President, Grand Award of Highest Achievement 2008’ with US$2000 as prize money. (www.CelebratetheSea.com). It gets even better if you are visiting the Philippines any time from 15 Feb to 15 May; stay or dive with one of the participating resorts / operators and you will be eligible to enter your pictures in the WOW Philippines Imagery competition.

You will be competing for one of these prestigious titles:
The WOW Award – for the most outstanding image
The Hi Five Award – for the highest scoring or the most well balanced portfolio
The Quick Draw Award – for the best action shot
There will be medals, cash, equipment and holiday package prizes for all categories as well as for the WOW imagery competitors. The cash and holiday prizes for the WOW Imagery competition is sponsored the Manila Ocean Park and supporting sponsors.

All winners qualify as a contender for the ‘President Grand Award of Highest Achievement 2008 with cash prize of USD2000. ROLEX is the main sponsor, supporting the hosting of Rolex’s ambassador. For more info: email cts@oneocean.com; www.celebratethesea.com

· The Celebrate the Sea Festival is a non-profit event funded and produced by OceanNEnvironment Australia and for 2009 the partner and principal sponsors are the Department of Tourism Philippines and PCSSD. From the first to the current Festival, Rolex has been supportive as a major sponsor.

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