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SARANGANI, Philippines – Newly crowned 2023 Hiyas ng Pilipinas Tourism World Fatima Kate Bisan, along with other beauty queens, spearheaded a relief operation for the severely affected residents of Sarangani province in the aftermath of the November 17 magnitude 6.8 earthquake that shook Davao Occidental and other parts of Mindanao.
The earthquake resulted in nine recorded deaths, numerous injuries, and the destruction of major malls in General Santos City.
Bisan, a native of Malungon town in Sarangani, had bagged her crown in Cebu on November 11, barely a week before the earthquake.
The relief efforts focused on distributing food and water supplies to some 700 families at the Enrique D. Yap Sr. Memorial Gymnasium in Glan, Sarangani, which was identified as the hardest-hit town in the province.
“One of the values that define the Sarangans is their resilience. As we roamed around, we saw happy faces despite the experience of the earthquake. This proves how resilient the Sarangans are,” said Bisan, who would compete in London in February next year for the Miss Tourism World beauty pageant.
She added, “I believe we Sarangans always know how to rise above the trials we encounter. We will move forward with the help of our government. We just need to have faith in God, and we will work hard.”
There, they also carried out a charitable initiative by distributing wheelchairs to children with disabilities.
According to Mike Sordilla, the chairman and CEO of Hiyas ng Pilipinas, the organization goes beyond pageantry, emphasizing a deep-rooted advocacy for societal advancement by collaborating with various cause-oriented organizations.
He said, “Hiyas ng Pilipinas is about beauty with a purpose.”
The beauty queens from Hiyas ng Pilipinas participated in the “Pearl of Sarangani,” the province’s beauty pageant, where their chairman served as one of the judges.
They also took part in the Munato Festival, providing them with the chance to explore the treasures of the province, including its rich cultural heritage, tourist attractions, and thriving agricultural and aquatic resources.
The festival derives its name from 2000-year-old anthropomorphic jars discovered in Ayub cave in Maitum, Sarangani. It also refers to the province’s earliest known inhabitants.
The province is home to native tribes such as the Tagakaulo, Blaan, and Tboli, who have coexisted with the “settlers.”
The Munato Festival concluded on Tuesday, November 28, with a street dancing competition in recognition of the three tribal groups in the province and other indigenous peoples in Mindanao. – Rappler.com