Filipinos top SEARCA photo contest

FIVE Filipino photographers won in the 2021 photo contest hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) under the theme "One Health is Wealth: Healthy Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems."

The Philippines claimed the first and second prizes overall, the People's Choice, the SEARCA Director's Choice, and the Best Youth Photographer Award (Mobile Phone). The other winning photos were by photographers from Vietnam and Myanmar.|

Most of the winning photographs are images of farming families practicing healthy diets and engaging in nutritious food production during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lindy Vivien Aldaba whose photo depicts home gardening won the first prize. Her picture is a vignette that illustrates how the Covid-19 pandemic opened people's minds to produce food in the comfort of their own homes with access to online resources to help them grow their plants well.

A photo by Klienne Eco bagged the second prize. Eco's photo portrays a mother and her children going through a schoolbook together in front of a healthy spread of vegetables, fruits, milk and bread.

The third prize photo, taken by The Duy Tu of Vietnam, shows a farmer harvesting water mimosa, a calcium- and iron-rich vegetable that also contains vitamins A and C. Mimosa is found in still waters in Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Thailand and Vietnam.

SEARCA said the first, second and third prize winners won US$1,000, $800 and $500, respectively.

Winning the SEARCA Director's Choice was a photo taken by Arturo B. de Vera Jr. The photo shows a farming couple with the father preparing a fresh harvest of fruits and vegetables for a meal and the mother breastfeeding her baby, both of which will boost the immune system against rampant diseases, including Covid-19.

"The food systems that focus on sustainable agriculture and recognize breastfeeding as the first food cut across human health and planetary health," Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA director, said adding that the photo vividly captured the brightness of the sun that highlights the colorful harvest of the day.

On the other hand, the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary's Choice was a photo by Kyaw Zayar Lin of Myanmar that shows farm workers having a meal beside a rice field. Dr. Leonor Briones is the incumbent DepEd secretary.

The People's Choice Award winner is a photo of a young boy about to plant a seedling as his father and brother harvest crops behind him. The photo, taken by Arnel Dagdag Garcia, garnered more than 1,000 likes on Facebook.

To mark its 15th milestone year, the SEARCA Photo Contest added two special awards for young shutterbugs who used a camera and a mobile phone.

Aung Myat Thu bagged the Best Youth Photographer Award (Camera) for a photo of beans scattering out of a farmer's cupped hands while Emely J. Escala won the Best Youth Photographer Award (Mobile Phone) for her photo of a little girl drinking processed raw milk collected from a cow.

The SEARCA Director's Choice and Philippine Department of Education Secretary's Choice winners each won $500, while the winner of the People's Choice Award via Facebook votation gets $400. The Best Youth Photographer Award recipients each won $300.

The winning photos may be viewed at including the rest of the finalists.

The SEARCA Photo Contest is launched every September via the SEARCA website and Facebook Page.