The Manila leg of the Canon PhotoMarathon Philippines 2011 was held at the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC) in Pasay City last 12 November 2011. The event is the culmination of this year’s Canon PhotoMarathon for the Philippines, which kicked off with the Cagayan de Oro City leg in Mindanao on the 27h of August then went up northwards with another leg every week: Bohol’s Tagbilaran City for the Visayas area, Iloos Sur’s Vigan City for Northern Luzon and Albay’s Legazpi City for the Bicol/Southern Region.

The Canon PhotoMarathon has become a yearly activity organized by Canon Marketing Philippines, Inc. (CMPI) for users of its imaging products like Point-and-Shoot compact, DSLR and video cameras. It is basically an On-The-Spot photography contest where participants are given themes to interpret through photography, with the resulting pictures are submitted for judging on the same day. Participants in the video-making category were allowed to submit their videos after the event to allow for editing.

Canon Cap

"costume de rigueur"

Ownership of a Canon camera isn’t required, so people without cameras or those who use another brand are welcome to join provided that they use a Canon camera during the event. No participation fee is collected, everything is provided by CMPI: a participant’s kit with the PhotoMarathon shirt, cap and ID, lunch, snack, dinner and drinks. All one needs to do is to register online, show up with a Canon camera and sign a waiver form.

Now on its 5th year, the PhotoMarathon has become so popular and highly anticipated, so much so that the online registration website was overwhelmed when it opened at 8:00PM on the 28th of October. Everyone was trying to register and the system was congested. I waited it out and registered at 1:30AM, when the rush to register had abated.

Excited PhotoMarathoners

Excited PhotoMarathoners

Two weeks later, the participants trooped to the PTTC early on a Saturday morning, greeted by large inflatable Canon cameras and a loud rhythm band. Registration was done with multiple booths, segregated by surnames so that a large number of registrants could be accommodated at the same time. After registering and getting the participant’s kit, a PhotoMarathoner could now go into the big assembly hall within the PTTC and wait for the event proper, or hang around in the lobby and visit the sponsor booths set up there. Canon had their product display, free camera/lens cleaning, and an on-the-spot printing station,  There was also a Canon photobooth set up where participants could get their souvenir pictures taken. Other sponsors such as Abacus Computer and iMag photography magazine also had booths set up. A concessionaire where people could buy breakfast was also present, if one was hungry.

The Red Sea

The Red Sea

Those who weren’t able to sign up online beforehand still had a chance to join the PhotoMarathon by showing up on the day itself and be put on the waitlist in case slots open up because some of the online registrants weren’t able to make it. After a couple of hours processing the online registrants, the unclaimed slots were opened to people on the waitlist. I have never heard of anybody on the waitlist being turned away in the past two PhotoMarathon, so I assume that everyone on the waitlist was accommodated.

After registration closed, everyone was asked to go to the PTTC main hall. There were just so many people seated at the round tables and with with everyone wearing the red Canon PhotoMarathon cap and shirt, the hall became a sea of red.

Canon Crusader of Light Jo Avila gives tips

Canon Crusader of Light Jo Avila gives tips.

CMPI head Alan Chng came out onstage to open the Canon PhotoMarathon and announced that this was the biggest Canon PhotoMarathon yet, with more than two thousand participants. After that, the Canon Brand Ambassadors for this year, now dubbed the Canon Crusaders of Light, came out and were introduced to the crowd. Each of them offered tips for the PhotoMarathon, and posed for a group picture before they left the stage.

The CMPI managers then came out and read out the rules of the PhotoMarathon, They only had two themes this year to allow for more shooting time. Participants in the photography contest had to choose to enter either DSLR or P&S category, but not both. Both themes applied to both categories, and the first theme was flashed on the screen: “In the Concrete Jungle of our Nation, Find the Beauty of Your Own Imagination. Use Your Creative Passion to Showcase this Beautiful Creation.

Canon Crusaders of Light Group Picture

Canon Crusaders of Light Group Picture

Before being let out to start taking pictures, everyone was asked to face a camera on an upper floor for a group picture to be taken by Wendy Garrido, CMPI’s Coordinator for Service and also the “official group shot photographer” for all Canon PhotoMarathons. Another group picture of the participants was taken at the entrance to PTTC, and finally everyone was free to shoot.

Participants were pretty much free to shoot wherever they want, as long as they were back in 3.5 hours (time to upload submissions for the contest included). Being on a Saturday with heavy traffic on the road, many chose to shoot around the surrounding areas. Permits to shoot in the cities of Manila and Pasay were acquired by Canon and copies were made available to participants for use in case they were accosted by law enforcement officials or private security guards.

PhotoMarathon Shooting Time Limit

PhotoMarathoners... ARE GO!

PhotoMarathoners returned to find that the registration booths earlier in the morning had been converted into download stations for picture submissions. Each participant had to pick one image for submission and it was transferred to a computer for judging. After submitting a picture, the participant could proceed to the main hall and get a lunch pack and drinks. There was also a photo exhibit set up beside the stage which featured the shots of the Canon Crusaders of Light.

After the meal, the second theme was flashed on screen: “In This City of Wonderful People, Different Lifestyle, We Venture a Mirror of Our Colorful Culture Truly Preserved for our Future“. People went out to shoot, and everyone had to be back in 3.5 hours if they wanted to submit their entries.

Canon Photomarathoner

A common sight around Manila that day.

The PhotoMarathoners started returning early in the afternoon. Some of them were visibly tired from shooting in a warm and sunny day (a Canon PhotoMarathon can be quite exhausting and a participant is required to be reasonably fit to join and advised to take the necessary precautions for heat and hydration). Snacks in the form of cup noodles were served, but there was a long queue at the hot water station so it was a good thing that dinner was to be served later.

After submissions were closed, the judging panel composed of Canon’s Crusaders of Light began judging in earnest. There were literally thousands of submissions that had to be reviewed so it took hours for them to deliberate. In the meantime, the participants were entertained by celebrities and Canon endorsers “Kuya Kim” Atienza and Piolo Pascual, raffle prizes and audience-participated contests (dancing, singing, “Youngest Photographer”, “Oldest Photographer”, etc). Models were also brought out on stage for photographers to shoot. After all this, a band came out and sang a lot of songs pretty much non-stop for more than an hour (I was amazed at the sheer lung endurance).

Canon Crusader of Light John Chua

Canon Crusader of Light John Chua laughs the onstage antics

After the long wait (as long as judging thousands of entries on-the-spot can take), the finalists were announced and their pictures flashed on screen. The winners were announced from 2nd runner up to the 1st-placer, starting with the P&S Shoot Category, then the same for the DSLR categories. Prizes at stake were very desirable, including Canon’s current DSLR models, and the Grand Prize for the DSLR category was the EOS 5D Mk II with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens kit (valued around P150,000/US$3,000).

Ms. Jackielou Garcera won 1st place in the P&S category with her Canon Powershot SX20IS compact camera, and won a Canon EOS 600D DSLR, a trip to korea for two, benro tripod, benro bag, Lenspen and sensor cleaning kit.

Mr. Jerome Ross Lacbayan won 1st place in the DSLR category with a shot taken with his Canon EOS 50D, and won the EOS 5D Mk II and 24-105 L lens, a trip to korea for two, benro tripod, benro bag, Lenspen and sensor cleaning kit.

Canon Photomarathon 2011 Grand Prize Winner

The Canon PhotoMarathon Grand Prize-winning shot (Photo courtesy of Jerome Ross Lacbayan.

I went with my photography club, the Mandaluyong-San Juan Photographers Club (a.k.a. the MaSaJistas) and went to historic Intramuros and Rizal/Luneta Parks. None of us won this time (hehe), but we did have a lot of fun bonding and getting to know other photographers.

MaSaJistas (MAndaluyong-SAn Juan Photographers club members)

MaSaJistas Represent! (PhotoMarathon 2010 Champion Jesse Abad on the left)

What is great about the Canon PhotoMarathon is that you’re going to be sure that some of the best photographers will be in the contest as well (including past PhotoMarathon champions and first-placers of the other legs), and one gets an opportunity to see how these people “see” the same places you’ve been to. There’s nothing like an on-the-spot photo contest to make one ask “why didn’t I see that?”

Once again, Canon has hosted a successful event. The event was pretty much well-organized considering the logistics involved in dealing with more than 2,000 participants and while it is very expensive to host just one leg, Canon spent for five this year!

Congratulations to Canon Marketing Philippines, Inc., and thank you for continuing to Delight Us Always!

Canon Crusaders of Light

Cardboard Crusaders ;)

(Note: Thanks to my fellow MaSaJista Dember Castaneda for helping me remember the themes word-for-word.)

Did you attend this year’s Canon PhotoMarathon? Want to provide feedback? Have your say in the comments box below!


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