MANILA, Philippines -- It was a night of sweet vindication for Karla Paula Henry who was chosen Miss Philippines-Earth 2008 on Sunday, besting 40 contestants from all over the country and Filipino communities abroad.
The 22-year-old model from Cebu joined the Binibining Pilipinas pageant in March but failed to advance to the semifinal round.
On Sunday night, she not only bagged the P250,000 prize, she will represent the Philippines in the Miss Earth contest where she will compete with 90 international delegates.
For two years now, the Miss Philippines-Earth pageant has crowned women who failed to win in the Binibining Pilipinas contest.
Jeanne Harn, last year?s Miss Philippines-Earth, had joined Binibining Pilipinas in 2004 and lost.
Henry will serve as ambassadress of the environment and is expected to take on projects and activities seeking to save the earth.
Emphasis on intelligence
Previous titleholders toured the country?s public schools telling children about the harmful effects of global warming and educating them on ways to alleviate ecological degradation. They also campaigned against smoke-belching and conducted clean-up drives along the country?s coastlines.
Because of these serious responsibilities, pageant organizer Carousel Productions made changes in the process of selecting the winners. While other pageants put emphasis on a contestant?s physical beauty, the Miss Philippines-Earth contest gives more importance to a contestant?s intelligence and personality.
Carousel also hoped that by inviting local government units to send delegates this year, it could reach more people with its advocacy.
Executive vice president Lorraine Schuck said: ?After the pageant, these ladies will go back to their hometowns and initiate environmental projects. We would not have been able to broaden our reach if we continued with our former scheme of conducting regional pageants.?
Best of nature
On pageant night, contestants were asked how they would explain the degradation of nature to simple folk.
Henry gave this winning answer: ?I will educate them by giving them an example? through my example I will give nature the best [of] me.?
The other winners are just as committed to the environment.
Melanie Felix, who represented the Filipino community in the US East Coast, was proclaimed the first Miss Pagcor Tourism International Ambassadress and brought home P250,000 in prize money.
Air, water, fire
Marie Razel Eguia was crowned Miss Philippines-Air.
Marian Michelle Oblea, who was adjudged Best in Evening Gown and Best in Talent, was hailed as Miss Philippines-Water.
Kristelle Lazaro who won Best in Cultural Attire was crowned Miss Philippines-Fire.
Legazpi City?s Venus Raj won as Miss Philippines-Ecotourism.
Indang?s Jaydielou Dilidili was adjudged Miss Congeniality.
Nikki Martin from the Filipino community on the US West Coast won Miss Photogenic and Best in Swimsuit.