A resounding success on the final day of the first (1st) Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX)!
PHIDEX Dive Travel Exchange (TRAVEX)
Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) is the only dive show in the region to organize a Dive Travel Exchange (TRAVEX). On the final afternoon of PHIDEX, the C-Lounge of Conrad Manila was bustling with business-to-business meetings. For the second time in PHIDEX, fifty international buyers representing top dive operators from 21 source markets and forty local sellers of dive tourism products and services from top and emerging destinations in the Philippines engaged in meaningful networking discussions to create cross-border partnership opportunities.
The panelist and the audience were engaged during the Inspirational Talk, where the subjects ranged from initiating awareness in protecting the marine life, educating and attracting non-divers about plastic pollution by opening up more diving courses, and inspiring everyone about the underwater world through art. John Thet (Singapore), CEO of Underwater360, is the moderator of the panel. The panelist included Ahmed Gabr (Egypt), Guinness World Record holder from Egypt for the deepest dive 332.35 metres, Hidy Yu (Hong Kong), ADEX Ambassador for Marine Conservation, Yolanda Yao (China), director and lead actress in her all-underwater film ‘Snake Sisters’, Valentine Thomas (Canada), certified lawyer and freediving conservationist, and Odessa (Philippines), a professional mermaid, scuba and freediving instructor.
Technical Diving Panel Discussion
The Technical Diving Panel Discussion catered to subjects that ranged from the technicality in tekdiving, heightening the current conservation effort on the open waters, adrenaline in cave diving, bolstering individual’s responsibility and proper training for the advancement of technical diving in the Philippines. Alex Santos (Philippines), co-founder of PHILtech and a member of the Filipino Cave Divers, is the moderator of the panel. The panelist included Ahmed Gabr (Egypt), Guinness World Record holder from Egypt for the deepest dive 332.35 metres, David Strike (Australia), one of the first Field Editors of Asian Diver magazine, an Stéphane Dugast (France), a Reporter and Secretary General of the Society of French Explorers, and Filipino technical divers Juan Naval and James Omac.
Yolanda Yao, an SSI Mermaid Instructor, director and lead actress in the largest Chinese underwater film “Snake Sisters” in 2019, showcased her second underwater film, Mermaid Fantasy, pioneering the world of underwater mermaid film. She aims to spread the Chinese culture through this unique underwater medium. Yolanda herself wrote and sang the original song in the film. Many were inspired by this magnificent film and created their own line of products including a 24-carat gold necklace costing about $3000, a hand-painted bag costing about $2000, which took 2 months to be completed and many more.
Roni Ben-Aharon, a conservation speaker, shared about the causes of shortage of fish and the efforts in conserving the marine life in various Philippine islands like Apo Island and Sumilon Island. The Marine Management Council, established in 1986, alongside the community in these island, led the placement of marine protected area (MPA). Apo Island MPA is the largest consecutive, most successful community-managed MPA in the Philippines. Dr Rene Abesamis did a study on the reproduction of fish larvae which proved that larvae produced in the well-managed MPA island of Apo have a stronger chance of recovering the fish population of other MPAs within 85km.
Aaron Wong, ADEX Ambassador of Photography (International), presented his expertise in the technicalities of underwater photography. His works were mostly crafted from dark photography, with the use of contrast, separation, and negative space and environment.
Prahlad Kakar, founder of India’s first Scuba Diving school – the Lacadives Diving School, showcased his underwater photographs from the waters of India. After which, he presented the adventures that can be done at Lacadives Maldives.
Hidy Yu, ADEX Ambassador for Marine Conservationist, unveiled the destruction left by the recent typhoon in Hong Kong, where citizens found plastic bottles scattered the city streets, including some from 20 years ago. Therefore, she began beach and ocean clean-up initiatives, particularly cleaning up ghost nets and plastics. At the same time, she urges everyone to reduce consumption and to be dedicated to plastic-free ocean. She joined Bling Bling Ocean Limited to continue her efforts in cleaning up the ocean.
Odessa Bugarin, a Professional mermaid, advocated for the public to be strong ocean warriors in ocean conservation. One of her notable campaign was a shoot with a crocodile – to reduce the use of crocodile skin and meat for luxury bags and exotic food. In 2017, she used her artistry in mermaid to produce a plastic pollution music video, Gunaw, to promote awareness and conservation.
More Sessions by Award-Winning Underwater Photographers
Mike Bartick, an underwater photographer, shared his experience with blackwater diving, Originally, he was a bluewater photographer previously. However, he moved to blackwater photography after seeing inspirations from a friend. He covered about his photographs on wunderpuss, diamond squid, paper nautilus, and blanket octopus.
Songda “Wowie” Cai, an award-winning underwater photographer, presented his photographs in a blackwater galaxy. His passion in blackwater photography proves that there is more to discover underwater, including incredible marine creatures and ghost nets. In 2018, he partnered with a marine conservation group in China to use plastic to make new bicycles.
Bo Mancao is an underwater photographer who believes that variety in photography is what diving lacks. One of the signature dive site he likes to go to is Moalboal, Malapascua and Tubbataha. It’s reef is beaming with colourful corals, sea creatures. At the same time, Paul Partridge joined him to share about a resort in General Santos that provides an experience like what Bo had. He was shocked during the expedition to an island near Cebu, where he discovered the trash originating from outside of the Philippines. “It is not just one country’s problem, it is our problem”.
Underwater photographer, Ram Yoro shared his journey into the underwater cave in Paglugban Island, where his dive took more than 2 hours to reach from one end to the other. Meanwhile, the expedition into the cave included the discovery of turtle carapace, fish skull, and a skeleton of a giant grouper.
Lynn Funkhouser, an underwater photographer, fell madly in love with her first dive at Anilao, Philippines. Through her photographs the audience saw a stunning shipwreck and an underwater cross monument which is now inhabited by corals. Similarly, her photographs from Puerto Galera, Apo Island, Oslob, Malapascua, as well as Tubbataha were equally stunning. She was amazed by the pristine waters and the lush corals when she first visited Tubbataha in 1978, which were protected and well-maintained till the present. Therefore, Funkhouser is grateful that there is no blaspheme fishing that happened throughout the years.
Daily Lucky Draw
The lucky winners got to walk away with amazing prizes sponsored by renowned dive brands such as SSI, Mares, ScubaStudio, Seacurrent, and Bohol Beach Club, on the last highlight of PHIDEX Day 3.
Prizes and Winners:
SSI Enriched Air Nitrox Specialtu Course – Benjamin Omac
SSI Try Basic Freediving Course Certificate x2 – Eduardo Effendy and Abi Mullens
Mares (PH) Ergo Splash Snorkel – Heim Chris
Mares (PH) Avabti Quattro+ – Ivan Del Valle
ScubaStudio Crest CR-4 – Maria Bollerup
M203 Black Seacurrent Mask – Mohan Thanabalan
M2071 Black Seacurrent Mask – James
FZ02 Diving Fins – Frankie Real
4Days 3Nights at Bohol Beach Club – Apolonio Matipag
Thank you for all your support and see you next year at Philippine International Dive Expo (PHIDEX) 2020!
Underwater360 is proud to be the Official Media Partner of PHIDEX 2019, the inaugural Philippine International Dive Expo hosted by The Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) from September 20-22, 2019 in Conrad Manila.
For more information, visit www.phidex.asia