MANILA -- Paula Ortega took to social media to explain her side of the story, following her much talked about answer during the final round of the Miss World Philippines 2022 pageant.
During the question and answer portion for the remaining 11 candidates, Ortega was asked by judge David Licauco about how she would "console the Filipino commuting public, especially in Metro Manila, that there is a silver lining to our traffic problems."
Visibly struggling to make sense of what was said, the Albay representative asked Licauco to repeat the question twice. "I can't hear the question, sorry. There's a lot of echo," she said.
In the end, host Katarina Rodriguez mentioned "traffic problems," prompting Ortega to finally try to answer the question based on what she heard.
She responded: "We should address our traffic problems by using more sustainable transportation. I think it's about time that Filipinos are aware of how climate change is really present right now. COVID-19 really happened because of climate change, and we should start working altogether to embrace our home."
"Because if we do little things like using public transportation, by using alternative energy, we are making a better place for our future. Thank you so much," she ended.
'LITERALLY COULDN'T HEAR ANYTHING'
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Ortega admitted that she is not doing well after looking back on her performance in the Miss World Philippines pageant.
She said her struggle to hear the question limited her to give her 100% during the competition.
"We, the candidates, seriously couldn't hear a thing on stage... If you were on stage, you could've seen me trying to walk in front because I misunderstood 21 instead of 25," she said.
"The first portion of the Q&A I was able to understand a bit because I was reading Laura's (Lehmann, co-host) lips, and I still got some words. But when it was for the second round, which I was the very first one, the judge (Licauco) started speaking and I didn't even know he mistakenly called me number 13. Again, I literally couldn't hear anything," she explained.
"When he said the question, I could only understand 'Metro Manila' and 'silver lining.' That is why I had to ask to repeat it but failed to understand it. If it wasn't for Katarina (Rodriguez, co-host) relaying the word 'traffic' to me, I wouldn't have been able to answer at all. So thank you so much, sister, I mean it."
And while she admitted she was nervous during the pageant, Ortega said asking to repeat the question twice still did not help for her.
She went on to share what could have been her answer if she heard the question correctly.
"There is no silver lining in our traffic. It is about time we stop romanticizing our problems and act [on] it. I would encourage people to use more of the improved public transportation, advocate for economic help for our dear jeepney riders, as well as investing to improve our MRT service so we reduce the number of cars in Metro Manila, and consequently reducing our carbon footprint in the Philippines," she said.
"Climate change is real, and we should work together to do as much as we can to save our home, our mother earth."
The post drew a lot of support in the comments section, where other beauty queens also showed their love for Ortega.
One of her fellow candidates, Ashley Subijano Montenegro, confirmed that it was indeed a struggle to hear what was going on during the coronation night.
"It's true. I struggled to hear my own number being called a couple of times until my fellow candidates would tell me I was being called for an award or placement. And I could barely hear my question. I, too, was caught off guard because I also didn't want my judge to get annoyed with me for repeatedly asking them to say it again because we couldn't hear it from where we were. Even the hosts were struggling to hear," said Montenegro, who was later on crowned Miss Eco Philippines 2022.
"Mishaps and mistakes happen, sometimes it's not one's direct fault. But Paula deserves compassion from others and should be given another chance. She is the most deserving out of all of us, she is the most compassionate and genuine person who lights up everyone else with her constant positive radiance despite our exhaustion. A lot of unexpected things happened that night, that much is clear. But just as we were brought up and trained to succeed together, we will move forward and make our next moves together," she added.