File photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – It has been one busy year for Miss Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco after winning the Miss Earth Philippines crown. She traveled to various parts of the country, working with various environmental organizations from coral reefs to school tours for kids.
In an interview with Rappler at the Miss Earth Philippines press presentation on May 10, Karen said that she's a bit sad about reliquishing the national title, but happy at the same time to pass it on to a deserving successor.
"I'm happy to pass it on because I want someone who is deserving to win the crown. I know that the pressure for the Philippines [representative] is going to be really tough this time. But I really want that person to also fine her trademark, as I found my trademark.
"I really want her to find who she is and to present herself in a whole package as she represents the Philippines this time," Karen said, that she's even willing to guide her successor in the duties and responsibilities that will be given to her.
Critcism about her victory in the national competition was amplified when she won the Miss Earth title. Many fans accused the people behind the pageant of favoring the Philippines, getting a 4th crown less than two years after Angelia Ong won in 2015. (READ: Miss Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco pays no mind to the haters)
Karen, who is a university teacher and physicist took everything in stride.
"I guess what will make you always have a positive response is that because you know the truth," she said.
Karen said she had no advance information about the question that she answered at the question and answer round of the Miss Earth pageant, and that she only prepared well.
"I was only given two and half months to prepare after my Miss Philippines Earth [title]. I was one of the candidates na sobrang hirap ang pinagdaanan (who really went through a very tough time) and people don't know that. People knew that oh, she's from the Philippines, she's got all this and that – no. I got less help because I had to fix everything in the Philippines while I was preparing for my international pageant. I was also working for Miss Philippines," she shared.
Karen said that she would practice her Q and A's while stuck in traffic to make use of the idle time. She added that she was able to handle all the dirt thrown at her because she knew she did nothing wrong.
"It's not even worth comparing to all the people supporting you and then you would just listen to bashers that would make fake accounts. I don't think so," she said.
Although she'll be done soon with her job as Miss Earth Philippines, Karen is set to do a few trips to various countries for the Miss Earth Organization.
"This year, I always say it's the international year of the reef. What we have is we collaborated with one of the NGOs known as CORAL – the Conservation for Ocean Resources and Aquatic Life. We plant corals in the oceans," she said.
2018 is the international year of the reef. That is why I’m excited to announce that @missearth have collaborated with C.O.R.A.L. (Conservation of Ocean’s Resources and Aquatic Life) to help rehabilitate the seas as we plant corals in the waters. Coral propagation is very much needed nowadays since the ocean is one of the biggest victim of climate change. The death of corals is evident in the waters due to the ocean acidification and increase in water temperature. These affect the habitat of marine lives which is used for spawning and feeding for their survival. We started this project in none other than Sta. Cruz, Marinduque which is the heart of the Philippines. The Philippines is very rich in natural resources and at the same time it is the center of the center in global marine biodiversity! It’s such an honor for me to participate in this project which is the first in Miss Earth. It’s my heart to share this with everyone! May our eyes be opened to the needs of our Earth and take a step in helping rehabilitate the damages made. Photo by: @swagnfrogfish #CORALmovement #MissEarth #MissEarth2017 #ME #beautyqueen #photoftheday #bestoftheday #beautiesforacause #ecowarrior #earthwarrior #teamphilippines #philippines #lookbook #fashion #style #look #ForThePhilippines #travel #travelph #travelasia A post shared by Karen Ibasco (@karenibasco) on May 7, 2018 at 8:37pm PDT
She also mentioned that they have partnered with Plastic Solutions in relation to their work with CORAL to lessen the consumption and use of plastic. They also continue to do school tours to educate kids about the environment, and she is also hoping to push for solutions to use solar power.
"Renewable energy will always be one of the things I will advocate about because it's the need of our environment," she said.
Promoting sustainable ecotourism
Karen explained why environmental issues should be considered as "moral" issues: "We have environmental issues because people are greedy. They want it for money. And it's not new something for us, sometimes people are just afraid to be vocal about it. But we all know about the money issues."
She cited President Rodrigo Duterte's promotion of sustainable development in the area of mining, where miners and stakeholders or communities in mining sites are supposed to have a win-win arrangment.
She said if mining companies get revenues from their operations, so they should give back not only in terms of contributions to the national economy but also through promoting environmental sustainability.
"It's always a balance between the two, not just for the economy itself, not only for the environment but it's actually given to you to use it and at the same time, still take care to use it, to take care of it," Karen said.
Simple ways of waste segregation also helps, Karen said, emphasizing the importance of discipline.
Happy Thursday #Earthlings. Keep safe. #MissPhilippinesEarth2017 A post shared by Miss Earth Philippines (@missearthph) on Sep 13, 2017 at 10:48pm PDT
When asked what one quality she's looking for in her successor, Karen said that while beauty is important, being an advocate is the biggest factor.
"One of the things that will make you stand out is really your wit when it comes to the environment – you being knowledeagble about it. You really can't be an advocate if you don't know what you're talking about. It's not just about talking recycling and reusing, and talking about ecotourism," she said.
Karen added, "I'm looking for someone who knows what she's talking about and who is willing to push through what I started and what all the Miss Philippines Earth have started."
The Miss Earth Philippines will be held on Saturday, May 19, at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com
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