The planet’s new advocate for the environment hails from Ecuador.
Katherine Espin impressed the judges in the final round of the Miss Earth pageant, which was staged at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Saturday night, she was chosen over 82 other aspirants after she invoked the environmental 5Rs— reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink and respect.
“If we do that in our everyday lives, we can make a change,” Espin said.
Among the judges were Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo and 2014 Miss Earth Jamie Herrell of the Philippines.
Espin’s victory was met with cheers from the mostly Filipino audience, who shifted their support to the other candidates when Miss Philippines Imelda Bautista Schweighart failed to advance to the semifinals.
Schweighart is a student from Puerto Princesa City.
The Philippines, however, still had unofficial representation in the pageant’s semifinals.
Sweden’s Cloie Syquia Skarne, daughter of Filipino actor Gabby Concepcion and Filipino-American Swedish model Jenny Syquia, made the top 16 and finished in the top 8.
Skarne grew up in Sweden where she joined the national pageant, winning the right to be the Swedish representative to Miss Earth.
Espin’s Miss Earth victory is the second for her country, after Olga Alava who won in 2011.
Her win is also the second for Ecuador in the Philippines this year, after her compatriot Angela Bonilla took home the 2016 Miss Global title at the Philippine International Convention Center last month.
Espin led the “Latin domination” in this year’s pageant, with three other South American beauties comprising her court.
Colombia’s Michelle Gomez was proclaimed Miss Earth-Air, while Venezuela’s Stephanie de Zorzi received the Miss Earth-Water title.
Brazil’s Bruna Zanardo completed the top 4 and took home the Miss Earth-Fire crown.
The Miss Earth winners are expected to work on environmental projects. This year’s contest focused on climate change.
During the delegates’ three-week stay in the Philippines, they toured the country’s various ecotourism destinations, some even in remote areas in Mindanao not known to many.
The showcase of Filipino sites spanned from Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte to the Island Garden City of Samal down south.
In batches, the candidates took part in activities geared towards mitigating the effects of climate change—planting mangroves in Bohol and spreading environmental information in the Bicol region, the province of Aklan and the city of Cebu.
The pageant’s ceremonies also highlighted Boracay’s recent proclamation as the “Best Island in the World” in the latest Conde Nast poll. The candidates held a preliminary swimsuit competition there.
Peachy Veneracion, project director of pageant organizer Carousel Productions, said in an earlier interview that the contest hoped to help bring more tourists to the Philippines, and to destinations rarely featured in travel shows.
The coronation was seen live on Star World and Uno TV, which broadcasts to parts of South America and the United States. It will also be seen on global cable The Filipino Channel.