PH’s Maria Luisa Varela is Miss Planet
The Philippines may have missed the first cut at the Miss Universe pageant earlier this year, ending a 12-year placement streak in the prestigious global tilt, but it was able to score its first victory in a young international competition—the Miss Planet International contest.
Maria Luisa Varela from Navotas City bested 13 other aspirants in ceremonies staged at Koh Pich Theater in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Jan. 29 to inherit the title from Monique Best of South Africa.
This is the second edition of the international pageant conceived in 2019. No pageant was held in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the 2022 competition was canceled because of an Ebola outbreak in Uganda.
During the speech round with the Top 7, Varela said experiencing flood, poverty and lack of educational opportunity in her city made her join the pageant. “I firmly believe in the mission and vision of this organization, which is the preservation of nature and environment, climate action and promoting education, which are very close to my heart,” she said.
“It is high time for us to act now and talk less. For it is now or never. Let us all be a beacon of hope, and let me start it by being your compassionate ambassadress of Miss Planet International 2023,” she said.
The pageant said it aims to support the Sustainable Developments Goals of the United Nations.
First runner-up Jemima Mandemwa from Zimbabwe, meanwhile, said, “between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause 250,000 deaths per year, which lead to malnutrition, malaria and heat waves. And all I can say is it’s time to act now.” —CONTRIBUTED INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.