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09 February 2011
PAL inflight magazine cops best ASEAN photo prize
Winning Photo
MANILA – A dramatic shot of a lone diver seemingly about to be engulfed by a swarm of sardines has won for Philippine Airlines’ inflight magazine Mabuhay its latest award for “Best ASEAN Tourism Photo” during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Tourism Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia last month.

Taken in the azure waters in Pescador Island’s marine park off Moalboal, Cebu, the photo by veteran underwater photographer Wowie Wong, published in Mabuhay’s September 2010 issue, depicts a phenomenon known to divers as a “sardine run,” where millions of shimmering silver fish suddenly appear and descend on the reef.

The massive school attracts not just fishermen, but sea turtles and thresher sharks, too, which all come to feast on the overflowing mackerel buffet.  It’s a stunning sight and divers the world over flock to Pescador Island to witness one of nature’s most impressive displays.

Wong, a dive master, captured the amazing scene with his Canon 5D Mark II one summer day when he descended just 80 feet down.  “Shooting underwater is totally different from shooting above water,” he says.  “Once you jump in, there’s no such thing as changing lenses, batteries or media cards when you need to.”

Pescador, a small limestone island in the Tañon Strait off the southwestern coast of Cebu, has been described as “every diver’s dream.”  It is rated one of the top dive sites in the Philippines.  Its waters harbor some of the greatest biodiversity in the world, with over 2,500 species of fish.
        
Wong’s winning photo continues a successful tradition by Mabuhay in the ASEAN tourism awards derby.  Since the annual honors were first handed out in 1987, the magazine has won the top prize for its photos nine times –
 in 1990, 1991, 1994, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and for its travel articles thrice – in 1993, 1994 and 2002.  In addition, PAL bagged the “Best ASEAN Poster” award in 1988.
     
The awards are handed out annually by the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA), which brings together both public- and private-sector tourism industry players throughout the 10 ASEAN member states.  ASEANTA is considered the most influential tourism organization in the region.

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