• Daryll Rivett

Anilao Photography Academy - Philippines

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Anilao Proper and Anilao East are two Barangays in the municipality of Mabini, Batangas, the Philippines. They are located south of Manila on the large island of Luzon, at the southern end of the Calumpang Peninisula facing Maribacan Island. However, Anilao is now frequently used as a generic term for Mabini, Tingloy, and Bauan.

The purpose of this Dive Trip is the continued Learning of Underwater Photography skills with Insider Divers, Simon Lorenz and many other mutli-talented friends I have made along the way from other trips.


Flying into Manila after a stop-over in Singapore, I was soooo un-impressed that 1 of my suitcases was left in Singapore by the airline (1st time for me ever). Dazed and frustrated I walked onward to the luggage carousel still not knowing which of my 2 suitcases was abandoned, was it my clothes/toiletries etc or was is it 😫my dive gear????

Standing impatiently with apprehension and anticipation at the carousel, I was actually relieved 🤗to see my Dive Gear making its way to me.....as I could do without clothes/toiletries for a few days, but not my Dive Gear.....(only a diver would understand)

With a quick overnight stay in Manila, I was picked up by the group transfer to Batangas for our stay at the Anilao Photo Academy where we will be diving for the next 6 days learning Macro, Lighting, Snoot & Blackwater photography skills.


"Instead of providing you with merely a place to stay, dive and take pictures, we are committed to also offer more enrichment thru developing underwater photography skills.

We have only 12 simple rooms that caters to the specific need of underwater photographers.

A dedicated camera dry-room, editing stations, power outlets, camera wash/rinse tubs, air guns, wet and dry camera work stations and 15mbps internet line."

The normal itinerary of a dive trip is to quickly settle into the accomodation, minimal un-pack and focus on setting up dive & camera gear to do a 'Check Out Dive' (shake-down). This, however was slightly different for me this time as my other suitcase had a few dive items in it, however the airline promised it would only take 1 day to courier it to me.

The weather was slightly overcast with some slight rain, but this would not deter us from getting in the water, so out for an afternoon dive to shake off the cobwebs and trim the gear - ready for the week.

For the rest of the week, the typical format would remain the norm;

  • Breakfast

  • Check camera gear and batteries

  • Board the correct dive bunker (boat)

  • Dive 1 & 2 with surface interval

  • Back to APA for lunch, wash gear etc

  • For some Aft dive, or others chill and relax

  • Dinner for some, or Blackwater dive for the keen (MOST)

  • A few quiet Deco Beers, snacks and sleep.

So for the next 6 days the daily activities rarely changed for many, except for the variety of the Dive Sites, for the purpose of practicing varied photography skills, Macro & Snoot, as can be seen below.

During the week, around day 3 I celebrated my 500th dive, only beginning my diving hobby/disease in 2012. Since then I have also completed no less than around 7 Padi Speciality courses including Dive Master (Pro).

It was nice to share this moment with close friends and celebrate my achievement in short amount of time.

Next adventure and new experience for me and other's was to do some Blackwater Diving. But, first we attended an educational talk and presentation by Wayne Jones (APA) on the facts, skills and techniques required.

So a quick overview; If you’re a diver that like’s adventure, or a photographer that wants to see something totally off the charts, then Blackwater Diving is for you. Imagine, drifting through the open ocean at night and witnessing the upward migration of planktons and the critters that feed on them.

Subjects like the Paper Nautilus, Blanket Octopus, Pelagic Seahorse’s, Larval Jack’s, Jellyfish, 10 foot Salp Chains, jellyfish, Moon Jellies, Flying fish and much much more.

Below is an example of what you can see and experience, and as my 1st BW Dive, I am very pleased to share with you an array of my own images.

NB: 1st image Won 'Best of Competition - Compact Class'

As the week progressed more and more images and photography techniques were explored and practiced as part of the Workshop. The SUPER advantage was that during the dives we all got assistance, guidance and supervision by our Tour Mentors including some amazingly talented local Dive Guides, with honourable mention to;

  • Simon Lorenz

  • Pauline Wong

  • Tim Ho

  • Wayne Jones

  • Ivan Manzanares

Some more examples of my images

As the week came to a close, all divers were given an opportunity to enter their 'Best Images' into several categories for the Judges to decide on the respective 'Winners'.

Below is a selection of winners presentations by Simon Lorenz.

Sadly, another Insider Divers trip had come to an end, and time to pack, dry dive gear and break down camera gear 🥺.

However for a lucky few there were a few more days of diving, and for me I was moving onto another week of diving at Romblon Island (Blog Up).

In closing, 'Take Every Chance You Get In Life, Because Some Things Only Happen ONCE', & let my stories and experience give you inspiration to create your own Moments.

Another 'Rivetting Moment', to inspire & ignite the traveller in you, to broaden life challenges & experiences!!!

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