Miss Eco PH Cynthia Thomalla advocates respectful, responsible travel
MANILA, Philippines – Cynthia Thomalla, the country's representative to the upcoming Miss Eco International, reminded travelers they should be respectful and responsible wherever they go to, beginning with picking up their own trash.
During her send-off hosted by the Miss World Philippines Organization on Friday, April 6, media asked Cynthia about the waste management issue in Siargao and the temporary closure of Boracay, the Philippines' best-known beach resort.
"For me, it should be the traveler who should be responsible for their trash. If they're traveling, they should know how to pick up their trash and throw it properly...Eeveryone should be aware of how to take care of our planet because only have one planet....Everyone should be an eco-warrior and everyone should be environmental friendly," Cynthia said.
She cited nongovernmental organization S.E.A. Movement in Siargao which conducts a cleanup every Saturday.
Personalities such as Erwan Heussaff, Anne Curtis, and Jericho Rosales expressed their concern over photos that circulated online showing the influx of tourists and garbage that was accumulated in Siargao during the Holy Week break. Siargao also got some attention after journalist Karen Davila's son got into an accident while surfing and that the resorts in the island lacked basic medical equipment.
As for the temporary closure of Boracay ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte, the Filipino-German from Southern Leyte agreed with what she called a "timely" decision.
"I respect with the decision they made. I think it is timely. We all should know that we should take care of Mother Earth. I went to Boracay last January and I felt that we need to do something. And I think closing for some months will be good for the ocean and everything to rejuvenate with the help of the rehabilitation of the natural resources," she said.
Cynthia added that with the closure, those affected or will be unemployed should have an alternative livelihood.
Dealing with criticism and promoting sustainable tourism
Miss Eco International will happen from April 10 to 27 in Egypt. The competition aims to promote eco-tourism and also help cancer survivors.
With regards to her advocacy for the competition, Cynthia said that she's aiming for sustainable tourism and responsible traveling.
"I'm really close to this advocacy because I love to travel. And I want the world, the travelers, to know how to be responsible when traveling like bringing metallic straws to lessen the use of plastic, and also helping the locals when it comes to the environment," she said.
For her Eco video, Cynthia went back to Southern Leyte, where she showcased what the province has to offer. Manila, Ormoc City, Palawan, and Davao Oriental are also featured in the video.
Cynthia was also asked about her name being dragged into the controversy surrounding her friend, former Binibining Pilipinas World 2007 Maggie Wilson, Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago, and newly crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2018 Catriona Gray's fans. Maggie and Bea drew the ire of Catriona's fans, after they said that someone else deserved the Best in Swimsuit award. (READ: Pageants are fun but...)
"I think it's unfair that I got into the situation when that issue was that issue. But it's really sad because my friends, they started to apologize to me even if like, 'Why would you apologize to me when you didn't do anything?'"
"But regarding the criticism, it doesn't bother me at all because I know myself better than any of those people who are saying something about me," she said.
Bessie Besana, general manager of Miss World Philippines, also spoke up on the issue, saying it was unfair that Cynthia got involved.
"First and foremost, I think that it's a bit unfair to judge a person on a comment that's not directly towards a certain issue. So sabi ko sa kanya, wala tayo magagawa, iyon ang perception ng fans (I just told her we can't do anything because that's the perception of the fans). The best way to deal with it is to keep quiet kasi (because) you're not guilty," Bessie said.
Nevertheless, Bessie said that all of the people from Miss World Philippines are happy for Catriona since she was the reigning winner when they were all crowned.
Arnold Vegafria, Miss World Philippnes national director, also said that he was happy with Catriona's win and hopes her fans will give Cynthia the same support.
"I hope the bashers or fans of Catriona should not involve Cynthia because Cynthia has nothing to do with that thing," Arnold said.
"The most important is she will perform well during the competition and I hope those bashers will support your candidate because 'yung candidate mo Pilipinas, nirerepresent ang Philippines (your candidate is the Philippines, representing the Philippines)," he added.
Arnold also said that it would be best for Catriona to remind her fans to be responsible in their statements.
"I'm sure Catriona, knowing her, she came from us, ayaw niya mangyari iyon (she didn't want that to happen). But I think the best she can do is to talk to her fans and tell her fans to be responsible and behave and support the Miss World Organization epsecially the Miss Eco International representative," he said. –Rappler.com