TO PROVE that Northern Mindanao remains “safe” in spite of the almost month-long fighting in Marawi City between extremists and state security forces, 15 candidates of the 2017 Miss Earth Philippines are now in Cagayan de Oro and will tour the province of Misamis Oriental beginning Tuesday, June 20.
Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vicente Emano said the province was deliberately chosen by Miss Earth organizers as one of the participants’ destinations where contestants are expected to interact with locals.
“We are so happy and proud to welcome these lovely ladies of the Miss Philippines Earth here in our province so that we can show the world that our province is safe despite the martial law. If wala ra jud time constraint, there are so many places here in Misamis Oriental where I could tour them. I am just so happy because dagko ang contribution sa inyong pag visit ug pag promote para makakaon ang akong mga constituents three times a day,” Emano said.
Emano said he will let the beautiful candidates see the beauty of Agutayan Island and the Sailfin Lizard Habitat in the municipality of Jasaan.
Peachy Veneracion, the vice president of Carousel Productions which runs the Miss Earth Philippines beauty contests, explained that the visit is part of the simultaneous pre-pageant activities before the coronation night.
“We should also thank governor Bambi (Emano) for this opportunity to visit Misamis Oriental. I think that this is a partnership and especially in these times, we have to make sure that we promote the province of Misamis Oriental and we are very happy to do what we can,” Veneracion said.
The situation of the martial law in Mindanao was one of the issues that the candidates forwarded especially its effect on the environment and the eco-tourism in province.
“When I first heard that we were going to Misamis Oriental, honestly I was really scared. Even my family did not agree to it especially because of what we see in the news about the war and the martial law. However, coming here, I can really say that this is not what I have expected since we got off the plane, we were all safe. I think that, like what the new slogan of the Department of Tourism ‘Experience Philippines’ say, I advise that people come here and really ‘experience’ what Misamis Oriental has,” Karen Ibasco, the Miss Manila city, said.
Jessica Rose McEwen, who represents the Filipino community in New Zealand, said that the lush greenery and the friendly faces of the people in Misamis Oriental made the visit quite surprising for her.
At first, McEwen said she had the impression that Misamis Oriental would be greatly affected by the current conflicts in Marawi City.
“I think that by the end of my visit here, this will be one of the most memorable experiences that I will treasure,” McEwen said.
The candidates also forwarded the importance of being responsible about how we represent the county and its places in social media especially in light of the ongoing clashes in Marawi City and the declaration of the martial law.
“What we say in social media and what we see in the news can greatly affect what happens to our tourism industries. That is why given this opportunity to come here and experience Misamis Oriental, I will really post all the amazing experiences that I will get here to promote the province,” Vanessa Mae Castillo of Lobo, Batangas said.
Aside from visiting and promoting Misamis Oriental's tourism destinations, the Miss Earth Philippines candidates will also have a mini fashion show at the Ayala Centrio Activity Center Tuesday afternoon, June 20, before they leave for Manila the following day.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 20, 2017.