Miss Earth 2017 candidates share views on ASEAN, love for country

Alexa Villano
Miss Earth 2017 candidates share views on ASEAN, love for country
The Southeast Asian ladies tell us what they want their leaders to push for during the 31st ASEAN Summit, and what they love about their countries

MANILA, Philippines – The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have gathered for the 31st ASEAN Summit, hosted by the Philippines.

During the recent Miss Earth 2017 national costume competition, Rappler got the chance to interview the Southeast Asian contestants. We asked them what they love about their country and what they want their leaders to push for in the region and in the world.

Karen Ibasco, Miss Earth 2017 winner

BALANCE. Miss Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco hopes leaders will tackle balancing economic growth and environmental sustainability.

What do you love about your country?

I love showing to people what the Philippines has to offer – from [its] diverse cultural heritage, biodiversity, local cuisine, [and] tourist destinations to the hospitable Filipinos.”

For first-timers going to your country, what places, food, cultural experiences, or traditions would you recommend that they try?

“I know that Coron, Palawan has been advertised all over but I always tell foreigners to visit it because I myself from the Philippines was captivated by its beauty when I visited it. I was in awe of everything I saw and experienced. I was afraid of the waters but my fear went away when I saw the beauty under the waters. 

“I would make them try our very own halo-halo and sinigang which are my favorites. I would also let them see that we celebrate Christmas season once the ‘ber’ months start and feel the spirit of Christmas all around.

Are there any places or traditions people don’t know about?

I went to Zamboanga Sibugay. We were fortunate enough to go into Tipan Cave. It’s not yet open to the public and is [still] being mapped by researchers. It was such a great experience. We walked into small holes, crawled, and swam…with complete gear. We saw all the rock formations inside a cave that should be preserved and also different [species]. We went to the biggest mangrove area in the Philippines, [spanning] about 2,500 hectares.”

As ASEAN marks 50 years, are there particular issues or laws that you wish your leader would push for or discuss?

Now that we are the host country and celebrating 50 years of ASEAN, I would want to see [the leaders] focus more on the balance between economic growth and environmental sustainability… and make collective actions toward fighting for the protection of the environment. May they share their experiences and expertise to help each other solve different problems we are all facing… We all share a common home and it’s essential to maximize this time to work hand in hand [to help] our planet.”

Paweensuda Drouin, Miss Earth Thailand 2017, Top 8 semi-finalist

COMMUNICATION. Paweensuda Drouin says she wishes everyone would have an open mind and heart when listening to others.

What do you love about your country?

“There [are] so many things I love about Thailand but if I were to say the one thing that I love the most, it would be the ancient cities, especially in Ayutthaya, and it’s just old palaces and old temples [from] so many hundred years ago.”

For first-timers going to your country, what places, food, cultural experiences, or traditions would you recommend that they try?

“Well actually, it really depends on what you like the most. If you feel like the beaches… head down south. If you like the mountains, head up north. But if you like food, hope you like tom yum and pad thai. I heard a lot of people like those dishes. And definitely if you’re in Bangkok, visit the temples.”

Are there any places or traditions people don’t know about?

“I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the beaches with stars, but those are actually eco-tourism beaches where you can go and do activities there. There’s actually out of 390 beaches, there are 145 stars and if you search on eco-tourism in Google, you’ll find those beaches.”

As ASEAN marks 50 years, are there particular issues or laws that you wish your leader would push for or discuss?

“It’s just really to be with an open heart and an open mind. Listen to people’s other points of view, because communication is really important.”

Tin Sandar Myo, Miss Earth Myanmar 2017

MYANMAR PROMOTION. Tin Sandar Myo says she hopes Myanmar will be given a chance to be promoted during the meeting of ASEAN leaders.

What do you love about your country?

“I love my country and I’m so proud of it. And the culture of Myanmar because we have so many ethnic tribes but we live happily and peacefully. So that’s what I love.”

For first-timers going to your country, what places, food, cultural experiences, or traditions would you recommend that they try?

“In Myanmar, we do have many famous places like beaches [and] mountains… so you can go trekking, you can go [to the] beaches. And in the capital city of Myanmar, Yangon, you can see [historical] buildings, architecture, monuments like pagodas and temples. We do have a lot of things you can see around the city of Yangon. 

“I would like them to try the food, especially [the] mohinga – it’s made with fish and noodles, and it’s really [tasty], and it’s also my favorite.”

Are there any places or traditions people don’t know about?

“Actually, we do have a lot of places that are famous places, but no, we don’t have [secret areas]….I recommend you to come and visit in Bagan, [with its] thousands of pagodas.”

As ASEAN marks 50 years, are there particular issues or laws that you wish your leader would push for or discuss?

“Environment is the most important for my country because in Myanmar, we do have an area wherein there’s disaster and flooding, so environment is the first thing….I want my country to develop business centers, so I hope…Myanmar would also get to be promoted in the future.”

Em Kunthong, Miss Earth Cambodia 2017

CAMBODIA. Em Kunthong in her national costume during the competition.

(Interview was done with the help of a translator)

What do you love about your country?

“What I love is the Angkor Wat temple because of its cultural heritage, and [also the] nature in Cambodia because in Cambodia, it’s all green.”

For first-timers going to your country, what places, food, cultural experiences, or traditions would you recommend that they try?

“The Angkor Wat temple [because] it is part of the cultural heritage that no other country has. And for the food, I would like to introduce kako [soup]. It is made of a lot of vegetables. If you like fish, if you like pork, put pork, put chicken, anything you like.” 

Are there any places or traditions people don’t know about?

“First-timers should go to Angkor Wat temple because there’s so much hidden [inside that] temple.”

As ASEAN marks 50 years, are there particular issues or laws that you wish your leader would push for or discuss?

“I would like to take care of the forest and plant trees, and reduce the use of plastic.” 

Elizabeth Lee, Miss Earth Singapore 2017

LOCAL BUSINESSES. Miss Earth Singapore Elizabeth Lee says she wants Singaporean leaders to promote local businesses.

What do you love about your country?

“[We] are able to showcase [to] the world how sustainable conservation is achieved [through the] balance of good governance, society, and technology….My advocacy is to promote the development of solar energy cheaply and sustainably.”

For first-timers going to your country, what places, food, cultural experiences, or traditions would you recommend that they try?

“You can always try the famous chicken rice – Hainanese chicken rice. It is well loved by Westerners, Europeans, Asians….As for a place, [visit] the Super Tree [Gardens by the Bay] and the Marina Bay Sands. It is an eco-tourism spot.” 

Are there any places or traditions people don’t know about?

“A lot of people don’t know about the secret lanes in Bali Lane and Arab Street. A lot of people go to Orchard Road and Bugis, and Marina Bay Sands, but try out the Bali Lane and Arab Street, and Haji Lane as well. These are the secret alleyways that showcase the Arabic side of Singapore, which is vibrant as well.” 

As ASEAN marks 50 years, are there particular issues or laws that you wish your leader would push for or discuss?

“We are facing a serious crisis of air pollution and also a lot of use of natural resources. So what the leaders can do is to promote local businesses, because in Singapore, we use a lot of imported products and foreign technology, so by implementing laws to promote local businesses and local manufacturers, operations, we can reduce petrol cost, transportation cost….So this law would help to make the world a more cleaner and sustainable environment.” 

Le Thi Ha Thu, Miss Earth Vietnam 2017

BEACHES. Le Thi Ha Thu of Vietnam recommends that tourists check out Phu Quoc island.

What do you love about your country?

“Actually, I love all things from my country, but I love the natural places [in my country]….We have many beaches and mountains, and I want to invite you to come and visit my country.”

For first-timers going to your country, what places, food, cultural experiences, or traditions would you recommend that they try?

“If you have a holiday and want to [take a] vacation, I recommend Phu Quoc island. It’s really a beautiful island and if you come there, try the seafood…I think you’ll have a really nice and really memorable vacation.”

As ASEAN marks 50 years, are there particular issues or laws that you wish your leader would push for or discuss?

“I think we are different [when it comes to] culture, we’re different [in terms of] economics, but [also] the same – the love between the people. So I wish the relationship of the Asian countries will develop day by day. I hope that we can grow together.”

Michelle Alriani, Miss Earth Indonesia 2017 

COOPERATION. Michelle Alriani says she wishes for the Asian leaders to tackle more issues about the environment.

What do you love about your country?

“I would say that it’s the principles and values that Indonesia upholds….You have amazingly hospitable, friendly people, warm, accepting, and loving beings. And also, it’s a great community and a great society to be in.”

For first-timers going to your country, what places, food, cultural experiences, or traditions would you recommend that they try?

“It depends on what you’re looking for, because Indonesia is very, very diverse….For beaches, of course the most famous is Bali, but there [are] in fact other great beaches….Maluku [Island] is also nice, the eco-tourism destinations [and] the forests are also amazing there.”   

Are there any places or traditions people don’t know about?

“Definitely the language. The new slang language of Indonesia, where [they] have these terms to explain and describe feelings….It’s just Indonesian jargon.” 

As ASEAN marks 50 years, are there particular issues or laws that you wish your leader would push for or discuss?

“I would definitely love to see [more] environmental cooperation. So among the countries, definitely more environmental concern and awareness towards transboundary pollution and also support [for] each national law and regulation that is implemented within each country… But in my opinion, generally better cooperation and for Indonesia, specifically stronger laws and commitment.” 

Cherish Ng, Miss Earth Malaysia 2017

FOOD ADVENTURE. Cherish Ng recommends trying Malaysian street food.

What do you love about your country?

“The first thing that I love about Malaysia is the people. The spirit, the friendliness. If you come to Malaysia, I guarantee that all.” 

For first-timers going to your country, what places, food, cultural experiences, or traditions would you recommend that they try?

“You can come to our capital which is Kuala Lumpur. We have our Twin Towers, KLCC, which is our signature… Malaysia is a tropical paradise, food paradise, and shopping paradise.”

Are there any places or traditions people don’t know about?

“Have your lunch or dinner not at a fancy restaurant but our local street food. We’re always well known for the local food, which you can find along the streets….It’s very cheap and delicious.” 

As ASEAN marks 50 years, are there particular issues or laws that you wish your leader would push for or discuss?

“Let us do a little bit more in saving our Mother Earth to make it cleaner, greener, and safer. That’s my main messge to share [to everyone].”

– Rappler.com

More Miss Earth 2017 on Rappler

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

author

Alexa Villano

Alexa is one of Rappler's Lifestyle and Entertainment reporters, covering local entertainment news to a wide range of topics from beauty pageants to reality shows.