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Filipinos win top prizes in Southeast Asian photo contest

Searca Photo Contest 2021 1st Place

Images of farming families practicing healthy diets and engaging in nutritious food production during the persisting COVID-19 pandemic, five of which by Filipino photographers, won in the 2021 photo contest of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) themed “One Health is Wealth: Healthy Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems.”

Filipinos won the first and second prizes, People’s Choice and SEARCA Director’s Choice awards, and the Best Youth Photographer Award (Mobile Phone). The other winning photos were by photographers from Vietnam and Myanmar.

A photo depicting home gardening by Lindy Vivien Aldaba won the first prize. The winning picture is a vignette illustrating 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.

Klienne Eco bagged the second prize with his photo of 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 went to a photo of a farmer harvesting water mimosa by The Duy Tu. Water mimosa is a calcium- and iron-rich vegetable that also contains vitamins A and C. In Southeast Asia, it is found in still waters in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The winner of the SEARCA Director’s Choice is a photo by Arturo B. de Vera, Jr. showing 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.

Searca Photo Contest 2021 1st Place

“The food systems that focus on sustainable agriculture and recognize breastfeeding as the first food cut across human health and planetary health,” said Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director.

He added that the photo vividly captured the brightness of the sun that highlights the colorful harvest of the day.

On the other hand, Kyaw Zayar Lin’s photo of farm workers having a meal beside a rice field emerged as the Philippine Department of Education Secretary’s Choice. Dr. Leonor Magtolis Briones is the incumbent Philippine Education Secretary.

The People’s Choice Award winner is a photo by Arnel Dagdag Garcia of a young boy about to plant a seedling as his father and brother harvest crops behind him. The photo 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 his photo of beans scattering out of a farmer’s cupped hands. Meanwhile, her photo of a little girl drinking processed raw milk collected from a cow won for Emely J. Escala the Best Youth Photographer Award (Mobile Phone).

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

Searca Photo Contest 2021 3rd Place

The winning photos and the rest of the finalists may be viewed at https://photocontest.searca.org.

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


Since its establishment in 1966, SEARCA’s main mandate has been to build capacities in agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia. From 2020 to 2025, SEARCA’s programs are geared towards accelerating transformation through agricultural innovation (ATTAIN) to elevate the quality of life of agricultural families through sustainable livelihoods and access to modern networks and innovative markets. SEARCA’s five-year development strategy is articulated through its core programs on Education and Collective Learning via Graduate Scholarship and Institutional Development and Training for Development, Research and Thought Leadership, and Emerging Innovation for Growth. SEARCA serves the 11 Southeast Asian countries, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. It is hosted by the Philippine government and its headquarters is located on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

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