Mario Cardenas


“All achievements are directly proportional to your sweat, blood, and tears, so to speak; all the sleepless nights that I had to endure,” says Mario Bejagan Cardenas who is easily the most-awarded Filipino photographer of our generation. His incredible feat of bagging over 350 local and international photography awards is quite impossible to achieve in a single lifetime – by most standards.  Never resting on his laurels, Mario continues his pursuit for excellence in his field, landing more accolades in 2018.  These include, among others, winning at the FIBA 2018 International Photography Competition, Professional Photographer Awards, HUAWEI Next Image Awards 2018, being invited to be a juror at the International Photography Award and part of the exhibition in 2019, not to mention, holding his first solo photography exhibition at the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche last November.

Photo by Romi Bacami

With 2019 in full swing, Mario is working towards exploring more ventures within the photography industry – working on publishing a coffee table book, launching a photography group, exploring collaborations within the industry, as well as training and mentoring other aspiring photographers.

Professing his passion for photography, Mario shares, “My craft requires a lot of dedication, effort, and determination; it is a never-ending process. I hope to keep on improving and challenging the status quo, give my best in every endeavor, and break more ‘glass ceilings’ as a Filipino trying to make it in the global arena.”



Special thanks to our sponsors: Emirates Airline, Stars n Bars La Mer, Liali, Instax – Grandstores UAE, Dusit Thani Dubai, Gver – Your Friendly Marketplace for Sharing, Meeting Dancewear , MPQ, CMG, Filbrit, and our partners Rozen Antonio Photography,  Alex Callueng Photography, Jef Anog Photography, and Ethereal Photography.


Browse the digital issue of Illustrado 100 Most Influential Filipinos of the Gulf 2018




100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf: Mario Cardenas – Photographer


Mario Cardenas is perhaps ‘the’ most awarded Filipino photographer of his time, racking up over 350 awards and nominations from countless international competitions, and gaining recognition in over 20 countries including the U.S.A., Japan, Australia, Turkey, and of course the U.A.E.


To name a few of Mario’s achievements, he earned the title of ‘Photographer of the Year’ in four different categories (Architecture, Book, people, and special) at the International Photography Awards 2017 in the USA and received the Gold Award within the Portraiture Category at PX3 2014 in Paris.  He also took home the Grand Prize at both the 2015 Black and White Spider Awards in the USA, and at the Milset Photography Awards in the UK. On amassing awards so consistently through the years, we asked Mario what his secret is.  He shares, “Each one of us has our own gift. The secret is being able to find out what our  uniquely endowed “gifts” are, expressing them freely.” As an architect by profession with over 15 years of experience in the field, Mario was fortunate enough to have grown up in an environment where he was able to embrace his love for creativity and the arts fully. And with this positive reassurance, Mario was ultimately driven to pursue what he loved.


With all these impressive accolades under his belt, Mario persistently aspires to keep challenging his capabilities by entering future competitions not only an opportunity to better oneself, but to learn from his contemporaries and their perspectives: “There are so many talented artists around the world who continually churn out powerful and original works. I’ve noticed that as artists mature, their pieces become more aesthetically profound.”


As an individual who virtually lives and breathes art, Mario can’t possibly picture a future without it: “I still can’t imagine not doing art or photography. Art is simply my purpose in life, and I will continue producing artistic works as long as my body and health would permit it.”



Photography by: Alex Callueng

Illustrado 100 was made possible by sponsors: GiordanoLiali JewelleryMitsubishi UAE- Al Habtoor MotorsMichael Cinco CoutureMapúa Institute of TechnologyCentro – Amwaj Rotana Hotel , Max’s Restaurant Middle East and GVER – Your Friendly MarketPlace for Sharing

Co-Sponsors: Herschel Supply Co.Rove HotelsThe Medical City – Dubai , Filipino Institute UAEMPQ TourismJAMES Travel and Tours DubaiOff the Hook Seafood RestaurantThe Original Barrio Fiesta Restaurant – Dubai and Tapa King UAE.


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