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Monday, April 8, 2013

CNN says 2 Philippine dive sites are among world’s best

Two destinations in the Philippines are among the best in the world, according to the travel news website of the Cabl
e News Network (CNN).
The Tubbataha reef, located southeast of Palawan, ranked eighth on CNNGo’s list of best dive sites in the world.
“Super-size your dive experience at Tubbataha, where everything comes in giant form. The main advantage to diving at Tubbataha is that the water is exceptionally clean, so the marine life lives much longer, making it grow to silly proportions,” the website said.
“Expect kaleidoscopic colors combined with guitar sharks, black tip reef sharks, nurse sharks, gliding blue-spotted lagoon rays, unicorns, boxfish, scorpion fish and more,” it added.
Another dive site in the Philippines that made it to CNNGo’s list is The Canyons in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, which ranked 45th.

The Canyons in Puerto Galera
“Schools of spotted and ribbon sweetlips, shiny trevallies and weird-looking batfish make up the scene at this first-rate dive site. There’s also an explosion of coral and plant life including beautiful delicate gorgonian sea fans and hollow barrel sponges; look inside for critters lurking within,” the website said about The Canyons.
Topping CNNGo’s list of 50 best dive spots in the world is Barracuda Point in Malaysia’s Sipadan island, followed by Yongala in Queensland, Australia and SS Thistlegorm in Red Sea, Egypt.
Earlier this year, CNNGo recognized Siargao, a teardrop-shaped island in Surigao del Norte, as the eighth best surf spot in the world.
Manila, meanwhile, was hailed by the website as one of Asia’s greatest food cities.

Filipino photographer wins Sony World Photography Awards

When Manny Fajutag leaned out of a jeep to capture a sunset last May, he had no idea he’d be snapping an award-winning photograph.
But almost a year later, the Abu Dhabi-based Filipino photographer has now won world recognition.
His photo entitled ‘Rush Hour’ picked up top honours in the Open ‘Travel’ category of the Sony World Photography Awards, making it one of ten winning images chosen from over 54,000 entries.
“I was sitting in a passenger jeep going back home from vacation on Sibuyan Island just before sunset and grabbed my camera – a Sony NX5 – to capture the beautiful moment,” Fajutag told Yahoo! Maktoob.
The result is a breathtaking image capturing the fading sunlight in the backdrop of a dusty road, with the coastline gently blending into a far-off mountain range.
This was the first time the 39-year-old helicopter mechanic participated in such a competition and he couldn’t contain his excitement.
“When I got the call, I couldn’t believe it. I am surprised because I’m just an amateur photographer,” he gushed, adding: “My friend encouraged me to enter. This was my first time and I won!”
Fajutag, a self-taught photo enthusiast, picked up photography as a hobby when he moved to the UAE in 2009.
Manny Fatujag
Manny Fajutag
“Photography is my passion and I started three years ago. I just had an old point and shoot camera with a fixed lense,” he said.
Since then, Fajutag upgraded to a changeable lens camera and has been snapping away whenever he has time, capturing landscapes and live shots or experimenting in still-life photography.
“I’m always thinking about what I’m going to do about my passion. Even in the summer when it’s too hot outside, I take creative shots at home,” he said.
The father-of-three picked up tips and tricks from photography books and by attending a few seminars, but most of his skills were developed by persistence.
“Whenever I go out in Abu Dhabi, I take live shots or landscapes,” he said.
Fajutag will be honoured in an award ceremony in London on April 25, where he will compete with the nine other winners for an overall prize of $5,000.
“This will be my first time in London and I’m really excited to go there, but still waiting for a visa,” he said.
His photo also picked up the top award in his native Philippines, where he will attend another awards ceremony, making the win twice as sweet.
The stunning photos will be on display at Somerset House, London, from April 26 to May 12.

PHL among top dive sites in the Pacific and Indian Ocean region

Dive sites in the Philippines continue to cast a charm on divers all over the world, as readers of Scuba Diving Magazine voted the country the third best overall diving site in the Pacific and Indian Ocean region.
In the magazine’s Top 100 Readers’ Choice S
urvey for 2013, the Philippines outranked Maldives and the Great Barrier Reef in the category, and followed Palau and Indonesia, which ranked first and second, respectively.
Dive enthusiasts have also named the Philippines the most economical dive destination, voting it into first place in the Best Value of Diving Dollar category.
The Philippines was also named the second best site for macro diving, in which divers take photos of tiny underwater creatures, as well as the fourth best for underwater photography.
Dive sites and resorts in Malapascua in Cebu and Dumaguete in Negros Oriental were also recognized in the magazine’s Top 100 Gold List, which compiles the most popular dive operators, resorts, and experiences all over the world as ranked by readers.
Malapascua, with its shipwrecks and thresher sharks, was number 17 on the list as the best night dive site, while the island’s Monad Shoal was number 58 on the best dive site list.
Ocean Vida Beach and Dive Resort, also in Malapascua, came in number 78 on the list as the Best Dive Resort, while Atlantis Beach Resort in Dumaguete was listed 92nd-best shore dive site.
The Top 100 Readers’ Choice Survey and the Top 100 Gold List is an annual ranking, where thousands of the magazine’s readers and web subscribers from all over the world vote for their favorite dive spots.
(Story courtesy of Amanda Lago, GMA News)

Pinoys win 4 awards in 1st ASEAN Film Festival Awards in Sarawak

The Philippines bagged four awards in the recently concluded and the first ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards (AIFFA) 2013 organized in Kuching in the Malaysian state of Sarawak.
Held at the Borneo Convention Center, Filipino actresses Alessandra de Rossi and Anita Linda bagged the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards, respectively,
Bugoy Cariño won the Best Supporting Actor award, while the film “Sta. Niña” b
y Emmanuel Quindo Palo won the Best Picture-Drama award.
De Rossi and Linda won their awards for “Sta. Niña” while Cariño was conferred his honor for the film “Alagwa,” directed by Ian Loreños.
The Philippines and Malaysia tied with four awards, Indonesia won three, and Singapore one. Brunei, Laos, Myanmar and Hong Kong were also participants in the film fest which ran from March 28 to 30.
“Once again, Filipino artistry in film shone brightly in this festival. With these honors, we have uplifted the profile of the Filipino community here in Malaysia and in the entire ASEAN. I extend to them my warmest congratulations,” Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo Malaya said.
“Here in Malaysia, the Philippines and Filipino actors are well-admired because of their talent and charisma. Malaysian channels have bought rights to and screen Filipino soap operas here, which are actively watched and enjoyed by audiences here. In fact, some Filipino actors enjoy a huge following in this country,” the Ambassador added.
“Sta. Niña,” is about a man who digs up the remains of his 2-year-old daughter in a lahar-filled quarry, and is a film that raises questions about love, guilt, sin and salvation.
“Alagwa” tells a story “film is inspired by a popular urban legend about a child’s disappearance in Chinatown Manila. The film uncovers the dark facets of the underground business of human trafficking in the Philippines.”
“The festival hopes to contribute towards the development of films within ASEAN, providing an avenue for its filmmakers to showcase their work to a global audience and most importantly, have these films recognised on an international scale,” the statement said.
11 Filipino feature films joined over 100 entries by ASEAN artists in the first AIFFA film festival, which include Tyrone Acierto’s “The Grave Bandits,” Whammy Alcazaren’s “Colossal,” Lawrence Fajardo’s “Posas,” Marie Jamora’s “Ang Nawawala,” Gutierrez Mangansakan II’s “Qiyamah,” Vincent Sandoval’s “Aparisyon,” Richard Somes’ “Supremo” and Paul Sta. Ana’s “Oros.”

Jessica Sanchez wows President Obama in Easter performance

Fil-Am singer Jessica Sanchez wowed US President Barack Obama and his family as she performed “The Star-Spangled Banner,’ the national anthem of the United States.
Sanchez joined the First Family at the 2013 WhiteHouse Easter Egg Roll festivities on Monday (US time).
“It’s Jessica Sanchez, everybody. Give her a big round of applause,” President Obama told the White House guests.
Before her performance, Sanchez admitted via Twitter that she’s feeling nervous.
“I’m getting butterflies,” Sanchez said.
After her successful performance, Sanchez, who received a hug from President Obama, said it was really nice to meet the First Family.
“Just met the first family! Ahh feelin so blessed!,” she added.
Last year, Sanchez also sang the American national anthem at the opening of the NBA Finals in Oklahoma City.