MANILA, Philippines – It's that time of the year again when ladies from all over the country step out in their summer best for the worthy cause of preserving Mother Earth.
This year, 49 candidates are competing towards becoming the next Miss Philippines Earth (MPE). The pageant gets even more exciting with repeaters, national pageant "bridesmaids," local pageant veterans and fresh faces among those battling it out to earn the right to wear the Philippines sash in the Miss Earth beauty pageant later this year.
But before the reigning queen Angelee Claudette delos Reyes and her court pass on their crowns, let us get to know more about the 2014 eco-warriors.
Diane Carmela Querrer (Tanauan City) was among the popular candidates during MPE 2011 (won by Athena Imperial), and was a former UAAP courtside reporter for the University of Santo Tomas. Despite winning Best in Cultural Attire, she failed to make it as a Top 10 finalist. She was disqualified in Binibining Pilipinas 2014 a few days after the announcement of official candidates.
Considered as one of the frontrunners back then, Monique Teruelle Manuel (Dinalupihan, Bataan) finished in the Top 10 of MPE 2009 (won by Sandra Seifert). Two years after, she joined Bb Pilipinas 2011 (alongside Shamcey Supsup, Janine Tugonon and Mary Jean Lastimosa) but went home empty-handed. After her Binibini stint, she became visible in TV and print advertisements. Now more prepared, Manuel is back to finally clinch the crown.
'World Miss University'
Ramp model Roanne Refrea (Cabuyao City) represented the country in the 2007 World Miss University pageant in Seoul, South Korea. She holds a degree in international business and entrepreneurial management.
From ‘World’ to ‘Earth’
These two girls, on separate occasions, were runners-up to Miss World Philippines (MWP) winners. Will they finally make it this time around?
Advertising graduate Mary Anne Ross Misa (Makati City) was first runner-up (first princess) to Queenierich Rehman in MWP 2012. But before that, she was a Top 10 finalist in Bb Pilipinas 2010 (won by Venus Raj). She was supposed to join Bb Pilipinas 2014 but withdrew her application before screenings were held.
Pageants have been a roller-coaster ride for Bianca Paz (Gapan City). She first joined Bb Pilipinas in 2009. A year later, she represented the Philippines in the Asian Supermodel Search in China where she bagged the Miss Photogenic award. In 2011 she tried her luck again in Bb Pilipinas. She made it as an official candidate but was disqualified. In the same year, she joined Miss World Philippines (MWP) where she finished as third princess.
Two years after, she re-joined and was awarded Best in Long Gown. But this wasn’t enough to win the crown as she was again named third princess (Megan Young won the title). Bianca is now emerging as a front-runner in this year’s MPE pageant, having won silver medals in the Trash to Class and hairstyling challenges.
Aside from Manuel, Misa and Paz there are 5 more former Bb Pilipinas candidates in this year’s MPE pageant. All of them failed to make the cut that time.
Patrixia Shirley Santos (Daraga, Albay), who won Miss Bicolandia in 2009 and a UP law student, joined Bb Pilipinas in 2010. Broadcasting graduate Anna Czarina Buenviaje (Malinao, Albay) was a Bb Pilipinas 2012 candidate.
Mary Rose Pujanes (Santo Tomas, Batangas), Anna Carmela Aquino (Taytay, Rizal) and Maria Bencelle Bianzon (Dueñas, Iloilo) were all part of the Bb Pilipinas Gold batch. Pujanes was Miss Batangas 2011. Aquino, who is a teacher by profession, was Bb Pilipinas 2013 Best in Talent. Bianzon is an IT professional and a freelance model.
Not quite Binibinis
Bb Pilipinas might have shut the door for these girls early this year, but these girls have found a window of opportunity to fulfill their dreams in MPE.
Theater actress and former magazine editor Maria Theresa Ocampo (Laoag City), stock broker Hannah Marie Caayon (Mandaue City), Miss Dapitan 2013 and Miss Mindanao 2013 Rosebel Bastasa (Jose Dalman, Zamboanga del Norte) and 23-year-old Trixie Aira Hipolito (Kidapawan City) all made it to the Top 74 of Bb Pilipinas 2014. Meanwhile, 24-year-old Mary Laveryn Naluz (Las Piñas City) and Janelle Tee (Davao City), former Miss Davao and Miss Tourism World Philippines 2013 candidate, made it to the Top 60, but didn't make it to the final 40.
Veterans of local pageants
After winning in their respective local pageants, these girls are more then prepared to battle it out at the national level.
Perhaps one of the most experienced is Mabel Joy Verceles (Vigan). She was Miss Bauang International 2011 and was first runner-up in Mutia ti La Union 2013. She was also crowned Miss Marikina 2013 and works as a marketing officer. IT student Amanda Arbitrario (Caloocan City) is the reigning Miss Caloocan, while 19-year-old Nicole Grimalt (Rodriguez, Rizal) was Miss Rodriguez 2012.
Christine Angel Alvaira (San Nicolas, Batangas), who is taking up fashion design and merchandising in DLS-College of St Benilde, was Mutya ng Batangan 2011 second runner-up. Melissa Isabelle Arganda (Pateros) also won second runner-up in Binibining Pateros 2012. Kaycie Lyn Fajardo (Agoncillo, Batangas) was Mutya ng Agoncillo 2012 and Mutya ng Batangas 2012 3rd runner-up.
The athletes and student achievers
Aside from their beautiful faces and earthly advocacies, these two ladies also excel in sports. Half-American Sarah Theresa Stewart (Muntinlupa City) is a psychology graduate of De La Salle University Manila. She was named UAAP Season 73 Rookie of the Year for softball. Tourism student Joselle Mariano (Trece Martires, Cavite) is a swimmer. She was able to compete at the State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association Meet in 2012.
Jashmin-Lyn Dimaculangan (Pasig City) is taking up commerce in UST. She was crowned Miss Commerce and Business Administration in 2012. Jodimay Megan Zervoulakos (Taguig City), 19, is a fashion design student. Angelie Crizelle Ocampo (Sta. Rita , Pampanga) is a tourism management graduate. She's a staff member of Senator Lito Lapid. Jenn Kristel Gonzales (Mariveles, Bataan) is a tourism management senior. She was sent by her university to the US as a cultural exchange student.
From the med industry
These girls are temporarily exchanging their scrubs for swimsuits, evening gowns and high heels for a chance to wear the Philippines sash in an international pageant.
Marjorie Acuña (Gerona, Tarlac) is a freelance events host and a med graduate. An intern at the Tarlac Provincial Hospital, she was a Mutya ng Pilipinas 2013 candidate. Meanwhile, Catherine Catbagan (Binalonan, Pangasinan), Thessa Marie Saavedra (Camiling, Tarlac), Maria Jenny Gonzalez (Cainta, Rizal) and Karen Michelle Dela Paz (Marikina City) are all registered nurses. Catbagan comes from a family of medical professionals while Saavedra works as a customer care specialist. Dela Paz replaced Akiko Centeno who had to withdraw from the competition due to injury.
Did you know that the first Miss Earth from the Philippines, Karla Henry, hails from Visayas? Will the next title-holder come from this region again?
Heavy favorite Jamie Herrell (Cebu City) is a dance choreographer and acting student at the International Academy for Film and Television. No stranger to pageants, she won 3 titles last year: Sinulog Festival Queen 2013, Reyna ng Aliwan 2013 and Miss Tourism Ambassador of the Philippines 2013. She also joined Miss Resorts World Manila 2013 but failed to make it to the Top 5.
Another darling of the crowd is Crystal Star Aberasturi (Liloan, Cebu). A medical technologist by profession, she was Miss Cebu 2014 fourth runner-up. Pircelyn Pialago (Dalaguete, Cebu) is the anchor of PTV4's Balitaan and a former news reporter for RPN-9.
Shaimaa Al-Najjar (Rosario, Northern Samar), a 24-year-old model, joined the Miss Northern Samar pageant in 2012. She took up medical technology in Centro Escolar University. A licensed educator, Janica Ella Hondrade (Iloilo City) wants to use her background to teach students on how to appreciate the environment.
One of the tallest candidates at 5'11" is Filipino-American model Kimberly Covert (Dumaguete City) who is taking up music in Silliman University. She tried searching for her biological mother by posting her picture on the Internet. "I did find her through her family but I felt like I was too late. She passed away just two years from the time I found her."
Zamboanga Peninsula's pride
Despite the conflict in the area, these 4 girls from Zamboanga are determined to show the beauty that the area has to offer.
Cesdianne Daung (Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay) has survived the military threats that affected Zamboanga, narrating in one of her interviews how "her neighborhood would hear gunshots just at the back of their homes." She was 2nd runner-up in Miss Teen Zamboanga 2012.
Phoebe Ken Diane Estoconing (Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte) was a former Mutya ng Tampilisan winner and Miss ZaNorte 2012 runner-up. Jennifer Kaye Allego (Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur) is a hotel and restaurant management graduate of Mindanao State University-Marawi.
Margie Alatan (Zamboanga City) is Miss Zamboanga City 2013. She is a member of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines and a taekwondo player when she was in elementary. She is a nursing graduate of Western Mindanao State University.
Aside from its earth-friendly causes, MPE also recognizes Filipino communities overseas, with candidates representing them year after year.
Jennifer Hunt (Fil-Gold Coast, Australia), 25, is taking up a master’s degree in international and community development. Melanie Cristine Balagtas (Fil-Sydney, Australia) considers winning the Miss Philippines Australia 2013 title as her most memorable moment. Carmen Baena (Fil-Melbourne, Australia), 20, won Miss Air in Miss Philippines USA Earth pageant last year. Ashlejane Alcancia (Fil-Brussels, Belgium), 18, is an education student. Rizza-Belen Diaz (Fil-San Francisco, USA), 25, is an animal science graduate. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Leslie Ann Pine (San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija) left Santa Monica, California to study in Manila. She was a Miss Philippines USA 2013 candidate.
Who will be representing the country in the prestigious Miss Earth beauty pageant later this year? We will all find out at Miss Philippines Earth 2014 pageant night on May 11 at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com
Resort Wear competition photos courtesy of Carousel Productions