More than just being the most passionate nation when it comes to beauty pageantry, the Philippines has asserted its distinction as powerhouse again with the win of Cynthia Thomalla in the Miss Eco International 2018.
The first Filipina to bag such title, Thomalla bested 50 candidates during the grand pageant on April 27 at the Cairo Opera House El Zamalek in Cairo, Egypt. Considered as a young beauty pageant with this year being only its fourth edition, Miss Eco International aims to make awareness through the theme of economy and environment.
“I hope everybody’s happy with the results,” the humble 22-year-old noted during her homecoming press conference in Quezon City.
Thomalla’s victory is third title for the Miss World Philippines (MWP) organization, following the footsteps of her fellow MWP 2017 batchmates, Reina Hispanoamericana 2017 Teresita Marquez and Miss Multinational 2018 Sophia Señoron.
Not an easy ride
Thomalla, born to a German father and a Filipina mother, was a Cebu-based model before joining Miss World Philippines 2017. There, she eventually won the Miss Eco International-Philippines, which was first introduced that year.
While she already had the looks and charm, Thomalla insisted that she had to undergo rigorous training to be on top of her game. What was natural for her was her fighting spirit to win the title.
“When I set foot on the plane, I really told myself, ‘You go there and win it’,” she happily recalled.
Her preparations and fighting spirit, however, did not make it any easier for the beauty to carry the Philippine flag.
The first challenge came early on when she had to endure homesickness.
“Honestly saying, during the second week of the pageant, I really got homesick. A lot of things were going on—there’s very poor cellular signal, I had a hard time communicating with my family,” Thomalla admitted.
“But then I would look at my sash and I would remind myself that I am not doing this for myself, I am doing this for the Philippines. So I told myself, ‘Thia step up and work it! You didn’t train several months just to be sad and nervous about what’s going to happen. You are now here and you need to do it. You need to win it’,” she continued.
Though it certainly was not the first time for Thomalla to be away from home, because the beauty is a jetsetter even before becoming a titlist, Thomalla admitted the new experience made her appreciate and miss her home country.
“I really missed the country after three months and that’s rare for me to happen because I love to travel. But I was glad to see Filipinos there during pageant night as well as my ALV [talent management headed by MWP national director Arnold Vegafria]family.”
The pageant night proved to be a challenge for Thomalla as well who was wary of the representatives of Egypt, Peru and Portugal.
“They were very beautiful and talented. But during the question-and-answer portion, they had difficulty in expressing themselves in the English language. And I think that was my edge because I was able to speak my heart in that language.”
Ready for ‘work’
Now that the shining crown is rightfully hers, Thomalla is more excited to fulfill her duties as Miss Eco International, and consequently, as part of her prize, as United Nations Ambassador for environment and eco tourism.
“I think the basic job description for me would be to promote eco tourism as well as sustainable tourism. I actually want to sit down with Miss Eco International organization so that we are on the same page regarding matters of becoming a UN ambassadress,” she said.
But before going full-time on her duties, Thomalla is first and foremost excited to start her advocacy in her hometown.
“I am looking forward to go back to my home province, Southern Leyte because as I said before, I want to educate people and also the youth with sustainable tourism and encourage them to be responsible travelers. And I want to start that advocacy with programs in my hometown,” Thomalla said hopefully.
Thereafter, it will be a constant travel for Thomalla, whose pageant prize included an exclusive diplomatic passport with a six-year validity.
Among the countries and cities lined up for her are her host country Egypt, where she is to return after the holy month of Ramadan; New York, where she will be a speaker for the United Nations; Australia; Singapore; and Malaysia. She is also headed to India to promote the makeup brand that supported Miss Eco International.
The latest beauty pride of the Philippines imparted that in the middle of her success, she wished her people were just as pleased with her achievement.
“I really hope I made you guys proud,” she ended.