• Miss Philippines Earth candidate advocates eco-tourism

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    The City of Muntinlupa’s candidate in the Miss Philippines Earth beauty pageant is advocating the promotion of eco-tourism in the country to preserve and protect the environment.

    Sarah Theresa Stewart, 20, who is representing Muntinlupa in the pageant, said people should not treat tourism as merely promoting beautiful sites, food and shopping.

    “I believe that more people need to view tourism as not simply artistic man-made structures or on theme parks and restaurants,” said Stewart, adding that eco-tourism is a timely program not only to attract people to a place and provide jobs, but more importantly, to raise awareness about the environment.

    “The whole world now is becoming more and more aware of how important it is to preserve the natural beauty of the environment, so eco-tourism is a great way to attract people to a city – it helps build commerce, giving people more jobs, but most importantly, it gives us a very persuading reason to encourage people to look after the environment,” she explained.

    Stewart, a Psychology graduate of De La Salle University Manila, participated in the Earth Hour program by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and SM Center Muntinlupa last March 29, which also became the Muntinlupa City government’s send-off program for her.

    “We are very proud that Ms. Stewart is representing the City of Muntinlupa in the Miss Philippines Earth pageant. We fully support her eco-tourism plans for our city,” said Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi.

    Stewart cited Muntinlupa’s Jamboree Lake, a national historical site and tourist attraction in the city, which can be used in promoting eco-tourism.

    “In promoting eco-tourism in Muntinlupa, we already have a very beautiful lake, and simple things can be done to enhance the area like adding eco-friendly activities such as bird-watching, fish interactions on the water—of course, these would have to be monitored by an environmental expert to ensure we do no harm to the fish—and even small areas around the park can be made into walks or picnic areas,” she said.

    Stewart added while it will take time, money and efforts to raise awareness among the public about protecting the environment, it is a worthy cause.

    “Of course, this will not be easy as it will require time, money, and especially strict efforts to ensure that visitors respect the environment, like proper trash segregation and environmental awareness talks,” she said, “But I believe any project worth doing is worth doing well, and with the proper group of people and training put in place, I believe that eco-tourism can be managed so that it benefits both the people of Muntinlupa and the environment.”

    During her college years, Stewart was a varsity softball player and participated in clean-up drives.

    When she was young, she said her parents were very supportive of her summer activities including sports classes, cooking classes and art classes.

    “My parents believed that a child should be free to explore different things in order to better know what they want to do in life. When school started, I also joined sports varsities and took singing lessons, so I learned the values of hard work and perseverance, as well as how to manage my time efficiently, to make sure I always had time for my schoolwork, my extra-curricular activities, and also just having fun,” she said.

    Stewart added that her main goal in life is “to find true happiness by seeing the good in every single person and everything that this world can offer.”

    The Miss Philippines Earth Coronation Night will be held on May 11 at the Mall of Asia Arena and will be telecast on ABS-CBN.

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