May 22 is the International Day for Biodiversity and to celebrate the event, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau and GIZ are holding a photo contest called Protecting the Reservoir of Life, Selfie for Biodiversity.
Yup, you read that right. The organizers are hoping to leverage the ubiquitous selfie as a way of getting people to celebrate biodiversity.
Selfies have been so popular that the Oxford Dictionaries declared “selfie” as the Word of the Year for 2013. And judging from my social media feeds, it looks like the selfie is still going strong.
Admittedly, selfies can be quite annoying, especially if done in excess. As in an entire Facebook album dedicated to just one selfie session one lazy afternoon. As in at least one selfie posted per day in all of one’s social media accounts. However, this contest wants you to make selfies that are not so, well, self-centered, by relating it to biodiversity.
Biodiversity is defined (also by Oxford Dictionaries) as “the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable.” In addition to living organisms, the UN definition also includes ecosystems (“ecological complexes of which they are part”) as part of the concept of biodiversity.
The Philippines has tremendous biodiversity resources, and really scientists have barely begun to scratch the surface.
Specifically, the contest seeks entries that “capture the true essence of biodiversity, why biodiversity is important, and explain how Filipinos can help conserve the Philippines’ rich biodiversity.”
Full contest mechanics HERE.
Now, I’m not that fond of selfies, and I’m not sure the judges would go for these, but here are some simple ideas for selfies for biodiversity:
Simple selfie for biodiversity concept #1. Selfie while holding a glass of water. Water is a vital benefit of healthy forests. Healthy forests are chockfull of biodiversity, and the whole system works to regulate our water supply. Bada bing, bada boom. Konek!
Extreme version: selfie while rappelling down a waterfall. E di ikaw na.
Simple selfie for biodiversity concept #2. Selfie with a bug, or butterfly, or worm you found in your garden. Or selfie with an ant. Or selfie with a spiderweb, yes, preferably with the spider still in it. Because all living things have a role in the ecosystem, and we’re all connected, yes, like a web.
Extreme version: selfie while in the company of some humongous/rare/badass animal in its natural habitat. So for example you managed to snap a selfie while swimming alongside a whale shark in Donsol, then congratulations. We probably won’t be able to actually see the whole whale shark in the frame because after all it is a pretty big fish, but the judges will take your word for it. Maybe. Let’s see. But don’t go harassing wildlife just so you can get a selfie; that’s not badass, that’s just tacky.
Simple selfie for biodiversity concept #3. You know what else is part of biodiversity aside from badass animals? Plants! And we have a lot of cool ones (check out the Tree of the Month albums here). So go the park or to a forest and find a piece of flora you can cozy up to, preferably a species that’s native to the country.
Extreme version: Selfie while planting a native plant. On top of a mountain. With appropriate permits and stuff from DENR. During a storm – well, okay, never mind the storm, just plant a native tree.
Simple selfie for biodiversity concept #4. Selfie while lounging at the beach during your vacation. You know you’re definitely going to take that selfie. Might as well send it in. The ocean biodiversity in our part of the world is a pretty big deal.
Extreme version: Selfie while exploring the deep sea, a largely unexplored world that is nonetheless suspected to harbor as much as 95% of all fish biomass in the ocean. However, this selfie is pretty much impossible except maybe if you’re James Cameron, so you’d have to settle for an underwater selfie while snorkeling or SCUBA diving.
But actually, biodiversity and its benefits are all around us and you can take a selfie eating dinner and easily connect it to biodiversity—how the ricefields were irrigated by water flowing from our watersheds and how the fish was captured from our rich-yet-threatened oceans. To the shy ones, you don’t have to show your face in the selfie, it could be just your foot or some other body part. There’s a lot of possibilities so go ahead and enjoy!
Check out the full photo contest mechanics in the contest Facebook page, or in the website of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the DENR. Submission of entries is from April 15 to May 15, 2014. Let’s celebrate biodiversity!