If you enter this competition, there has to be a positive result for other people,” said Steve Douglas, producer of the Miss World contest.
With reigning Miss World Mireia Lalaguna and Mr. World Rohit Khandelwal, they visited their charities in the Philippines in two days. The entourage went to the hematology and oncology ward of the Philippine General Hospital, where cancer-stricken children were confined.
The renovation of the ward was funded by Alice Eduardo, owner of Sta. Elena Construction Company and benefactress of the Miss World Philippines charities.
Cory Quirino, the local franchise holder, said that the mortality rate of patients decreased by 60 percent after the renovation.
The group also visited Tuloy Foundation, where Lalaguna and Khandelwal danced with street children.
After their visits, society doyenne Baby Cruz-Vazquez hosted a welcome dinner in their honor.
Miss World is the oldest beauty contest, established in England 65 years ago. Its tagline, “Beauty with a Purpose,” distinguishes the pageant from other competitions.
“The contestants do something charitable, and they are sincere about it,” said Douglas. “They are given a platform to raise money or to raise awareness about the cause. We’re looking for something to use their title to help humanity or do something on a global scale.”
He pointed out that Miss World winner had diverse backgrounds: “Megan Young is an actress who involves and encourages people. Rolene Strauss is a doctor. Mireia is training to be a pharmacist. This gives you an idea of what is needed for Miss World.”
Mr. World began as a modelling event in 1996. “It’s the search for the world’s most desirable man. Contestants meet a series of physical and mental challenges, being with the Royal Marines, the Army, trainers, models. It’s like James Bond who swims the ocean and climbs the mountain yet still looks fantastic enough to give a bouquet to the woman he loves,” said Douglas.
This year, the contestants of Mr. World faced extreme challenges such as running up and down the sand dunes in Southport, England. “A special Royal Marine commando took them to the river bed. In low tide, the mud was waist-deep. They had to run in the mud. The last man standing was the winner,” Douglas pointed out.
In Southport, the contestants were divided into four teams. Each team had to remove 10 tons of earth to create flower beds for the parks and for residences.
“They had to carry a lot of weight, but it produced wonderful results. The community now has beautiful flower beds. With our men, who were strong and dedicated, they moved the soil in a few weeks. They were proud because their work had a positive impact,” Douglas noted.
Before joining Miss World, Lalaguna worked in summer camps, teaching sports to underprivileged children in her native Spain.
At the Miss World pageant in China, she won the modelling competition for her sunny disposition and natural beauty; she made it to the top 10 of the fitness and talent portions.
She credits Miss World Philippines 2015 Hilarie Parungao for winning the multimedia segment. Parungao told the Miss World story best in her social media accounts.
Not just a beauty contest
“This wasn’t just a beauty contest,” said Lalaguna.
Throughout her reign, she has been involved in the Smile Train, a charity for children born with cleft palates and harelips in Kenya; a telethon to raise funds for an autism school in Iowa and raise awareness of HIV in Moscow; and in visiting underprivileged communities in Los Angeles.
As her reign ends in December, Lalaguna said she has learned more about people and herself in one year than in her entire life: “You visit four countries each month and meet people from all levels of society. In all, I’ve learned to give love. Even a smile goes a long way.”
Khandelwal grew up in Hyderabad, India. Following his instincts for performance, he moved to Mumbai and worked as a model for such brands as Hyundai and Peter Glenn outdoor sportswear and became an actor for a TV show.
To prepare himself for Mr. World, he worked out twice a day for six months, improving his endurance and speed.
One of his favorite charities is Muktangan, a community education program for underprivileged children in India. He believes that education can help improve quality of life. He often posts this cause in his social media accounts. “When I visit them, I teach them about life and positivism,” he said.
While traveling around the globe, Mr. World’s charities led him to a realization: “We may have differences in culture, but we have one religion of love.” —CONTRIBUTED