UP student wins int’l wetlands photo contest
A civil engineering student from the University of the Philippines won the Global Wetlands Photo Contest, with theme of disaster risk-reduction.
Gabriel Mejia, 21, was awarded for his photo of the natural spread of the Gabaldon floodplain of Nueva Ecija, which was taken from the summit of Mt. Sawi.
In an online interview, Mejia, who is also an aspiring environmental engineer, said mountaineering had always been a big part of his life since he started climbing at the age of 12.
“I just don’t like hiking- I love it… I consider it as one of my lifelong passions, and I hope one day to climb the 7-summits of the world and explore more undiscovered mountains in the future once I have the resources for it,” Mejia told INQUIRER.net.
“I’m also an aspiring environmental engineer because as much as I am passionate for mountaineering, I am also passionate in saving our environment. The mountains and the oceans have been a big part of my life, and knowing that all of these beautiful places could be gone in the future cause of our own negligence in the present, I’ve devoted my academic career to help develop a way to protect and conserve our environment further in the field of engineering,” he added.
Mejia said he did not think of joining the photography contest when he took the photo of the Gabaldon floodplain, adding that he was just “in awe to have witnessed its immense and artistic natural beauty that resembled the African continent” when he climbed Mt. Sawi.
“I never really expected that the Gabaldon Floodplain would be that beautiful when we were climbing the Mt. Sawi because we started on the other side of the ridge, so we had no glimpse of what it was like while we were on our way up. Of course I would recommend it to other Filipinos, so they could witness the grandiosity of Nueva Ecija, and as well experience the beauty in climbing a mountain no matter how small,” he said.
The Wetlands Photo Contest received over 700 entries from young people between 18 to 25 years and was organized on the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2017 under the umbrella theme Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Contest organizer Ramsar Convention said Mejia’s “striking” photo was chosen over other entries because of its powerful message on wetlands conservation.
“Mejia’s picture apart from being a striking aerial photo that captures the natural spread of the Gabaldon floodplain of Nueva Ecija, also tells a powerful story about the value of conserving wetlands as natural spaces, because they can absorb flood waters in the event of extreme weather and this has helped to protect the communities in this area from disasters,” Ramsar told INQUIRER.net.
“Wetlands are among the most valuable ecosystems and yet they continue to be degraded around the world. We applaud Mejia’s participation in this photo contest and for sharing with the world a picture of this wetland important for protecting the people that live in Nueva Ecija,” it added.
Mejia won a free flight courtesy of Star Alliance to travel and visit the Parque Provincial El Tromen in Argentina, which was designated a Wetland of International Importance in 2006.
“I would like to visit the Parque Provincial El Tromen in Argentina because it has been a dream of mine to visit the Andean mountains and the Patagonian region of South America where I can have an aerial view of the wetlands and lakes of the region. My love for mountains and wetlands is one of the main factors of wanting to visit it that is why I also want to visit the Glaciar Vinciguerra also in Argentina,” Mejia said. With reports from Ed Margareth Barahan/JE/rga
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