MANILA, Philippines - Miss Philippines Earth 2011 beauties found a brief respite in the middle of the controversial weekly eliminations of the pageant with a surprise visit of the seaside municipality of Catanauan, Quezon province over the weekend.
The bevy of beauties rocked the sleepy, laid back town with their bikini fashion show at the spanking Catanauan Cove White Beach and Farms resort, wowing local tourists and town folks. They also planted trees in the rolling terrain of the resort, around 160 kilometers from Manila.
Catanauan is far off the beaten path of the usual pageantry of a beauty contest . It has also been under the radar of local tourists and travel agents because of its association with communist rebels.
But the candidates were surprised to see its marine splendor, a cream colored beach, and rich, decades-old trees that match the poster images of Miss Earth Philippines' environment advocacy.
Tamarind and acacia trees are over 100 years old, and a mangrove reservation area is also an attraction.
A few kilometers away is a botanical garden exporting blooms to Europe.
As for the New People’s Army, that is passé talk, according to Catanauan mayor Ramon Orfanel and resort developer Buddy Javier. Roads and other infrastructure development during the time of former President Joseph Estrada at the turn of the century helped turn around the economy of the municipality.
The beauties, of course, were unmindful of this socio-political background when they traversed Tayabas bay in banca rafts for their snorkeling adventure in its clear waters near Marinduque island.
It was a virgin moment for most of the girls who have not swam or snorkeled before in the middle of the sea where they saw reefs, urchins, flying fish and blue starfish.
"This is nature at its best," marveled Miss Virac Anna Brillante.
"God's creation is really amazing.... All the more we should take care of our nature," cooed Miss Malolos Denisse Toribio and Miss General Santos Catrine Ocampo.
Alas , the joy of the Catanauan nature trip and bonding will fade with next day's Monday elimination of 10 more ladies at the RCBC Plaza in Makati.
Eliminated were media favorites bombshell Miss Cainta Christianne Ramos and gutsy RPN 9 reporter Vivienne Gulla.
Pageant organizers Lorraine Schuck and Peachy Veneracion, who reportedly were saddened by the departure of some favorite candidates, also bid goodbye to Jaine Hidalgo of Milaor; Alyssa Canizares, Bayugan; Zhaniethia Jimenez, Parañaque; Diana Jainga, Passi; Amalia Brillante, Virac; Leslie Ching, San Isidro; Diana Santos, Vigan; and Aileene Dango, Loboc, Bohol.
But, for most of the candidates, the Catanauan episode is something to cherish for a long time. Win or lose, the visit crystallized their advocacy to help preserve the environment.
From the original 50 candidates, 10 more ladies will be ousted at the final eliminations of Miss Philippines Earth at Thunderbird Resorts in Binangonan, Rizal this weekend.
The remaining 10 survivors will have a grand showdown at the coronation night on June 5 at Puerto Princesa, which will be aired by ABS-CBN and The Filipino Channel (TFC).