Homegrown pageant fueled by ecotourism | Inquirer Entertainment

Homegrown pageant fueled by ecotourism

/ 12:07 AM May 27, 2014

FROM left: Miss Earth Int’l ’08 Carla Henry, Miss PH Earth ’12 Stephanie Stefanowitz, 1st runners-up Myles Palisoc and Riane de la Cruz, winner Sarah Christine Bona, Col. Ricardo L. Nolasco, winner John Paul Lopez, 2nd runners-up Rachelle Victoriano and Ram Ace Bautista, judges Cheryl Nolasco, Glennifer Perido and Alma Concepcion.

“This search was launched last year merely to find spokespersons for a campaign to promote our place as a premier tourist destination in the Philippines. We have stepped up this year to take a bigger role in local and global ecotourism.”

Retired Air Force Col. Ricardo Nolasco Jr., promoter of the competition, sees the successful presentation of the recently-concluded Search for Mr & Ms Hannah’s Beach Resort Eco-Tourism Ambassadors 2014 as progress in the right direction.


The pageant finale was held on the beach fronting the famed Blue Lagoon in Barangay Balaoi, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, a few minutes of leisurely walk from Hannah’s main grounds.


“It was a perfect setting,” Nolasco, who is also owner/proprietor of the resort, told the Inquirer a few days later. “The competing young men and women—all 20 of them—seemed to be inspired by the balmy breeze, the sound of the surf…”

SARAH Christine Bona of Bicol

John Paul Lopez, 20, from Cainta, Rizal; and Sarah Christine Bona, 20, from Bicol won the top titles at stake. Nolasco is certain that the two made the grade as much for their smarts as for their looks.

Present custodians

“Although differently worded, their view of the contest rationale, as expressed in the question-and-answer portion, matched,” Nolasco reported. “They both said that, as ecotourism ambassadors, they held the future in their hands; that it was their duty as present custodians to secure tomorrow for the next generation. That attitude, I believe, was the deciding factor for the judges.”

Lopez and Bona each won P50,000 in cash and an employment contract with Hannah’s.

First runners-up were (Mr) Myles Palisoc and (Ms) Riane de la Cruz; second runners-up, Ram Ace Bautista and Rachelle Victoriano.


“Our new ambassadors will play a bigger role in regional tourism efforts,” Nolasco said, “on account of various recent citations for Hannah’s.”

He is proudest of an award from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region I, that his establishment received on June 27, 2013, one month after the first search for Mr & Ms Hannah’s.

The resort, only five years old at the time, was granted the title, Most Outstanding Individual Initiative on Environmental Management. The award underscored the facility’s “various interventions for environmental protection and the flourishing ecotourism industry” in Pagudpud, which included providing livelihood for communities within the municipality.

Fully Pinoy

ASPIRANTS got to enjoy aquasports facilities before the pageant.

“That award means a lot to me as an entrepreneur and as an individual,” said Nolasco. “Hannah’s (named after his daughter) is one hundred percent Filipino-owned—my family is Filipino—and managed. That we have come this far and accomplished this much is every entrepreneur’s dream.”

He elaborated: “The resort/convention center is accredited by the Department of Tourism, having exceeded standards for tourism facilities and services. And we are now part of Philippine Airlines’ ‘PALakbayan’ program.”

Nolasco is not from the province, or the region. He is a Manileño who knew nothing about running a resort hotel before he had to. This was because visitors to Balaoi started asking to stay in the rest house that he built there.

“I built two more houses, and after a while it wasn’t enough. I built two more… and so on,” Nolasco related.

Nationwide search

Although proudly homegrown in Pagudpud, this year’s search again gathered participants from across the country. The go-sees started in February. A pre-pageant elimination was conducted in April, and the finale was held on May 17.

The judges included last year’s winners, Stephan Cativo and Patricia Camille Reyes.

At the head of the panel were Gen. Manuel C. Roxas, former PNP (Philippine National Police) deputy director-general, Immigration director and Pagcor (Philippine Gaming Corporation) director; and Gloria Bautista, mother of Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) chief of staff.

There were two beauty queen judges: Bb. Pilipinas International 1994 Alma Concepcion and Ms Philippines Air 2012 Glennifer Perido.

FROM across the country, the finalists gathered in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

For Pagudpud

Nolasco vowed “to take a more meaningful role in addressing ecotourism concerns.” The pageant, he pointed out, was meant to call attention to this, more than anything else.

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More important, he said, “I am taking every opportunity to give back to Pagudpud and to the province of Ilocos Norte, where I found my retirement haven.”

TAGS: Beauty Pageant, ecotourism, Entertainment

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