By Robert R. Requintina
A Filipino-Italian model from Rome, Italy, who calls for the protection of urban forests was crowned Miss Earth- Philippines 2018 at a pageant held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City the other night.
Crowd favorite Silvia Celeste Cortesi edged out 41 other contestants for the crown in the environment-driven beauty contest. She succeeded Karen Ibasco, a medical physicist.
She will represent the Philippines in the international Miss Earth beauty pageant later this year.
The top five candidates were asked the same question: “The deterioration of Boracay left our President with no choice but to close the island for 6 months for rehabilitation. What should be done to make sure that what happens to Boracay doesn’t happen to our other tourist destinations?”
Cortesi said: “I agree with the decision (of) President Duterte. And I think that Boracay needs a drainage system because the ‘juice’ of trash goes directly to the ocean. We have to control the capacity of hotels.”
The other winners were: Zahra Bianca Saldua of Las Piñas City, Miss Philippines Air; Jean de Jesus of San Rafael, Bulacan, Miss Philippines Fire; Berjayneth Chee of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, Miss Philippines Water; and Halimatu Yushawu, of Titay, Zamboanga Sibugay, Miss Eco-Tourism Philippines.
Cortesi was an early favorite to win the title when she received several special awards during pre-pageant activities. Those who won special awards during separate competitions held at the Versailles Palace Alabang were: best in evening gown – Berjayneth Chee (gold), Celeste Cortesi (silver), and Halimatu Yushawu (bronze); cocktail wear competition — Halimatu Yushawu (gold), Celeste Cortesi (silver), and Aubrey Pagot Elauria (bronze); and swimsuit competition – Cortesi (gold), Marra Silvosa (silver), and Princess Faye Tortor Fernandez (bronze). They were awarded by State Properties Corporation president Allen Roxas.
Advocate of trees
Cortesi said she joined the pageant “because I want to have the privilege and honor to represent the Philippines and share my capacity and advocacy regarding human values and the importance of how to respect mother nature.”
The the 5’8” beauty added: “My advocacy is about trees in Italy. I believe we should protect our urban fragile forest, because trees are life. And the perfect example is for a law in Italy that protects monumental trees.”
This year’s winners were chosen based on beauty of face and poise, figure and form, intelligence, and environmental awareness.
Growing up was tough
Cortesi described her growing-up years as “tough. “I had a tough life as a child but never lost my will to to live life happily and be hopeful on greater things to have a peaceful life.”
She added: “I learned to move on. It doesn’t matter to me what had happened in life. What counts the most is the lesson it gave me and the will to survive and continue the journey.”
Candidates who finished in the Top 18 semifinals were delegates from Tagum City, Cebu City, Parañaque City, Davao City, Tacloban City, Taguig City, Fil-Sydney in Australia; Dumaguete City; Fil-Queensland in Australia, Tangalan in Aklan’ Fil-Vienna in Austria, Cateel in Davao Oriental; and Zamboanga City.