MANILA - Reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach is in Ecuador to help victims of a powerful earthquake, in her first visit to a disaster-hit country since winning the crown last year.
A post on Wurtzbach's Instagram account showed her arriving in the southwestern city of Machala. The 26-year-old beauty queen said she went straight to the local Red Cross station and was briefed on the ongoing relief efforts.
"I cannot wait to meet you all! Stay strong Manabi and Esmeraldas! God is with us," she captioned her post, referring to the two provinces worst-hit by the quake.
On the official Instagram account of Miss Universe, Wurtzbach was seen handing out relief packs to children in evacuation centers. She said that she can relate to the children, especially since she grew up in the typhoon-prone Philippines.
"We still need your help. Hundreds of people lost their lives and thousands more are suffering now," the caption read. Yes, emergency relief is always first priority but I hope we can continue efforts in REBUILDING."
"Just because it's not all over the news doesn't mean that the suffering is over. I myself have volunteered back in the Philippines numerous times and on site. So I know the impact of a calamity like this to the people. If you can, please take some time to visit the Red Cross website to donate."
Wurtzbach said she would also appear at the annual Machala Parade.
Hundreds were killed after a magnitude-7.8 quake, the strongest in decades, struck the Andean nation of 16 million people last month.
Wurtzbach, the third Filipina to win the Miss Universe title, has also promised to promote AIDS awareness and fight cyber-bullying during her reign.