UP, Oblation

The Oblation, the iconic symbol of the University of the Philippines signifying selfless offering of oneself to his country. This is the Oblation at the Baguio campus. (File photo by DENVER DEL ROSARIO / INQUIRER.net)

MANILA, Philippines — The first UP Photo Awards — the launch of which coincides with the opening of the University of the Philippines Academic Oval on Tuesday —  is the Philippines’ first-ever no-entry-fee online digital photography competition.

The deadline for submission of entries is Feb. 15, 2022.

It seeks to visualize the overall experience of the UP System and community during the COVID-19 pandemic through images captured by individuals from all walks of life.

During the height of the pandemic, there was a call for photographers to pitch a project brief to create a coffee-table book about UP during the pandemic. Camera clubs were given the information.

Javier Flores, a member of a well-known club in the Philippines, received the brief and responded with an original idea. It”s about organizing a national photo contest that anyone can enter. Flores is a lawyer and conceptual photographer. He used to be the editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian.

Javier informed Ruston Banal, an interdisciplinary artist and fellow UP alumnus who is a key figure in staging prestigious photography awards on a global scale, about the idea.

The two decided to pitch the idea to UP President Danilo Concepcion, who agreed to the concept’s main focus of democratizing photography, in which everyone may participate.

“I can imagine a doctor submitting a compelling image about his experience with a COVID patient in an emergency room where not everyone has access. With the book we intend to write, we may now be witnesses to such events. We expect images that are moving and show humanity and hope as we all try to survive the pandemic,” Concepcion said.

Competition prizes, mechanics

The competition will accept entries from anywhere in the world.

Participants may use any device that may take photographs — including all kinds of digital cameras, smartphones, GoPro, and even drones — as long as the entry falls within the category guidelines.

The underlying theme of this year’s UP Photo Awards is “UP in the time of pandemic.”

In terms of visualizing our experience, there is no longer a distinction between a pro and a regular smartphone user. Democratizing the source of images from people is liberation in the image-making process, as photography becomes the casual language all people speak within the sharing of the COVID-19’s horrifying tales.

People are encouraged to submit photographs that would be iconic and become permanent records of this moment in Philippine history.

UP is the first-ever institution in the Philippines that adapted this digital photography awards where the jury process of tabulation is done automated and remotely.

The contest will have five categories. Each category will have a winning photo, with a cash prize of P25,000.

Recipients of honorable mention awards will also be picked out from the five categories. All winners and honorable mention awardees will be eligible to compete for the Best Photograph Award.

The Best Photograph in the entire competition will receive a prize of P100,000.

The images will be judged by a panel of distinguished jurors drawn from a variety of disciplines.

Following are the descriptions of the categories:

PEOPLE: Images may be of the university’s employees, faculty, staff, utility workers, or just about anybody else inside the borders of the campuses.

ARCHITECTURE: Images of the university’s structures — including hallways, lecture halls, and classrooms.

NATURE: Images of the ecosystem of fauna and flora, and animals such as migratory birds, insects, and organisms on UP campuses.

NEWS: Images showcasing how UP dealt with COVID-19 from the start of long-term lockdowns. This may include photographs of the UP Philippine General Hospital and of events such as community pantries within the campuses and rallies.

PRE-COVID: Images captured from Jan. 1, 2019, up to March 14, 2020, a day before the government instituted the first lockdown on March 15.  Images that show the busy life on campuses just before the lockdowns.

To join in the competition, you can create an account on the website: UP Photo Awards.


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