Gabriel Mejia 21, currently studying civil engineering at the University of the Philippines was announced as the worthy winner of the Global Wetlands Youth Photo Contest 2017, themed “wetlands that help us cope with extreme weather events.” An avid explorer, Gabriel Mejia intends to use his prize, a free flight courtesy of Star Alliance to travel and visit the Parque Provincial El Tromen in Argentina designated a Wetland of International Importance in 2006. He spoke to us about his winning photo and his future plans, which include creating sustainable and environmentally friendly structures to protect coastal communities.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the news. It felt so surreal to have been awarded as the winner of this year’s Wetlands Youth Photo contest, and it is such an honour to be chosen from among more than 700 entries, of other youth who had submitted their best photos. I have never been so grateful in my life, and I just hope to continue and share the importance of wetlands in the world.
I took this photo when I climbed Mt. Sawi in the province of Nueva Ecija in the Philippines. It was a 4-hour drive and a whole day climb just to get to this point of the summit which showed the Gabaldon floodplains. I was mesmerized by the natural beauty and formation of the place and I couldn’t resist taking the shot. I was inspired by the fact that the floodplain looked like the African continent and how it connected the two rural towns showing the unity of life.
I heard about the Wetlands Youth photo contest in a post by an environmental organization here in the Philippines and I was just so ecstatic to see such an opportunity and so I joined right away the moment I saw it.
As an aspiring environmental engineer and travel photographer I couldn’t help myself to join the Wetlands Youth photo contest which integrates both my passions especially as someone who wants to specialize in the field of disaster-risk management.
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.
I am currently studying civil engineering at the University of the Philippines and I am also a mountaineer and explorer. One of my future plans is to become an environmental and coastal engineer in the Philippines to create and design a sustainable and environmentally friendly structure that will protect both the coastal communities and marine wildlife living in our country. As an avid explorer, I also plan to climb the 7-summits of the world and show the beauty of the mountains and wetlands in the world.
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.