DINALUPIHAN, Bataan: When Monique Teruelle P. Manuel returned to her hometown here, she not only received a warm welcome but bamboo seedlings as well.
This is not surprising since the 25-year-old Filipina beauty was recently crowned Miss Earth Eco-Tourism 2014 and the seedlings will help prevent floods in her area.
“Alay ko po ang pagkakapanalo ko sa ating bayan [Winning the contest is my gift to the nation],” she told a big group of well-wishers as she rode on a flower-decked float.
Mayor Gila Garcia of the flood-prone municipality said bamboo is considered the grass of life because of its many properties.
“Unlike big trees, bamboos sway with the wind no matter how strong it is and absorb plenty of water,” he said.
Garcia said the beauty queen would serve as the perfect model of eco-tourism and help protect the environment by planting more bamboo trees. Bamboo products like sawali are popular in Dinalupihan.
“Kalikasan ang ating ina na tulad ng tunay na ina ay inaalagaan tayo kaya dapat alagaan din natin ang ating Inang Kalikasan at baka mahuli ay wala ng abutan ang susunod na henerasyon [Mother Nature is like a real mother because she takes care of us so we have to take care of her too for the sake of future generations],” he said.
Manuel said she would gladly promote tourism projects in Dinalupihan.
“Kung sisimulan na ang ecotourism program ng Miss Earth, gusto ko dito sa ating bayan magsimula [If the ecotourism program of Miss Earth begins, it should start here],” she said amidst the loud cheers of the crowd.
The Sangguniang Bayan chaired by Vice Mayor Rey Matawaran has passed a Resolution of Congratulations for the “Pride of Dinalupihan” for winning the title of Miss Earth Eco-Tourism 2014.
Manuel, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology graduate from Assumption College in Makati City, was earlier crowned Miss Bataan Tourism in 2007, representing Dinalupihan at the age of 17.