WATCH: Australian cancer survivor removes wig at Miss Earth 2020 talent contest

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2020 03:50 PM | Updated as of Oct 17 2020 09:56 AM

MANILA -- While other international pageants have deferred to hold their competitions this year, the Miss Earth 2020 pageant has gone ahead this week with its virtual showcase, with a stunning array 83 international beauties in several preliminary events on its streaming sites. 

First to attract international interest at the start of the 10-day virtual talent showdown this October is Miss Australia Brittany Dickson, a 25-year-old veterinarian and brain cancer survivor. 

Dickson did an interpretative dance of the inspirational pop hit “Fight Song” at the grounds of the Sydney Opera House. In a surprising twist, she removed her wig at the end of the song. 

Courtesy: Miss Earth/ Carousel Productions

Dickson explained the purpose of her distinctive talent presentation. “I just want to drive my story harder that I was an earth warrior before cancer, during cancer and I will be always after cancer. It’s something I’m proud of. Something insignificant as hair doesn’t matter. My message is what matters, it’s about a much bigger picture that people can still achieve amazing things. If we can put that energy into saving the environment, the world will be a better place. I’m really grateful for this experience,” she said. 

The Philippines’ representative Roxie Baeyens also presented her dance interpreting the two environmental songs -- Julia Roberts’ “Nature is Speaking “ and Ashkar Shalip and Melomedia’s “Mother Earth.” 

Courtesy: Miss Earth/Carousel Productions

Baeyens told ABS-CBN News the performance delivers a timely message. “Some say the planet is sick and humans are the virus. It is undeniably we as a species have destroyed this beautiful home at an alarming rate. But together we can still help nature and its ability to provide for the sake of every living thing, including ourselves," she said.

A singer, model and contract star of Cornerstone Entertainment, Baeyens is a Tourism Management graduate of St. Louis University. For her advocacies, she is pushing urban agriculture and animal welfare. 

The virtual holding of the 20th edition of Miss Earth sets a precedent in the holding of international pageants in the new normal. 

“We decided not to skip this year so we can continue with our mission to raise awareness on the state of the environment,” executive vice-president and Miss Earth co-founder Lorraine Schuck told ABS-CBN News. “Mas nakakahiya kung hindi ituloy because we are an advocacy-driven pageant for environmental protection. This is the time when we’re more needed for awareness to inspire people to take action on many environmental issues.” 

Schuck is also thankful the national directors of the Miss Earth franchise have cooperated to be part of the pageant’s milestone year and are now familiarizing themselves with the pageant’s online format.

“COVID-19 should not take a hold of our lives. We should eventually learn to move on, make the most of what we have, and inspire one another,” she said. 

Baeyens also said she’s surprised at the turnout. “I didn’t expect this much participation! I’m very excited meeting 83 candidates. I’m really happy that we can still do this for our followers and our advocacies,” she said. 

The over-two-month-long series of online pre-pageant events like earth talk sessions, evening gown, national costume and other showcases were laid out to give netizens in-depth insights on each delegate. 

Miss Earth activities are livestreamed in Miss Earth’s social media accounts, while the finals will have its television broadcast on FOXlife and social media streaming on November 29.