Borongan City pulls off hosting of Miss Philippines Earth beachwear competition

The city of Borongan successfully hosted the five-day Miss Philippines Earth (MPE) beachwear competition.

City Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda expressed his gratitude to everyone involved in the city’s successful hosting of the national pageant. He is hoping that this initiative will lead to more tourism development not only in the city but also in the province of Eastern Samar.

Dugang nga nakilala yana it at syudad ha bug-os nga Pilipinas, bisan pa ha bug-os nga kalibutan, nga dako it posibilidad it pagbisita ha at hin mga turista, labi kay mayda naman biyahi hit PAL nganhi ha at ha Borongan,” Agda said.

(Our city is now becoming more known in the Philippines and even in the world, with great potential for tourists to visit, especially since Philippine Airlines (PAL) now flies here to and from Borongan.)

Borongan City Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda congratulated the winners of the Miss Philipines Earth 2024 Beachwear Competition, namely: Sam Samara of Makati City (GOLD); Kristel Anne Codas of Iligan City (SILVER); and Irha Mel Inutan Alfeche of Matanao, Daval Del Sur (BRONZE).

Agda also highlighted the collaborative efforts of the entire community in the success of the event.

Iginpakita ta an at mahihimo nga tambulig, bisan ha pinakaguti kundi kinasing-kasing nga paagi, an kooperasyon han at mga kapitanes, an suporta han mga taga payong-payong, an paniguro han at mga empleyado ha city hall, an ira kagul-anan, pagpiraw nga mayda guti nga kulba bisan kun gin-aadman naton nga tanan hin halipot la ngani nga panahon,” Agda added.

(We have shown what we can do when we work together, with even the smallest contribution but heartfelt support. The barangay chairpersons’ cooperation, the payong-payong people’s support, and the City Hall employees stayed dedicated even when things got tough despite the short time needed for preparation.)

Rupert Ambil (center) with the small business owners in Borongan who expressed their interest in hosting the Miss Philippines Earth delegates in their respective payongs prior to the event. (Photo courtesy of Rupert Ambil)

Rupert Ambil, the city information officer, said some individuals initially expressed doubts about the city’s capability to stage a national event.

Ambil said Borongan has always been ready to host a huge event given the rich tapestry of natural beauty, cultural riches, and warm hospitality of Boronganons.

“We definitely can if we change our perspective on what makes us ready and how to take advantage of what we already have,” Ambil emphasized.

He also shared that it was the first time that the MPE candidates were brought to upstream barangays.

“What makes our hosting unique? It’s the courage to showcase what we have now,” Ambil added.

Schoolchildren on Ando Island lined up along the streets to welcome the Miss Philippines Earth 2024 candidates. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)

The humble ‘payong-payong’

A group of small business owners sponsored the pageant by hosting candidates to enjoy Boronganons’ daily “tambayan” along Baybay Boulevard.

Each stall owner has graciously agreed to accommodate one or two candidates, alongside the Miss Earth staff, under their humble “payongs,” or umbrellas.

A payong-payong owner supervised the candidates as they immersed themselves in the daily life of a Boronganon food stall owner on Baybay Boulevard. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)

The 29 MPE candidates and four reigning queens immersed themselves in an authentic Borongan experience, from savoring tasty street food to experiencing the warm hospitality of each small business owner, who offered them complimentary meals and the opportunity to try their hand at cooking and selling.

Shane Mercado, a small business owner, said that she volunteered to cater to the delegates to support the city’s tourism promotion an initiatives.

I opened my business to them to support sa magandang vision ng city para sa pag-promote ng ating lugar and encourage everyone na we can share what we have to others kahit maliit lang tayo na negosyante,” Mercado said.

(I opened my business to them to support the city government’s positive vision for promoting Borongan and to encourage everyone to share what we have with others, even though we’re just small business owners.

Members of the Borongan City Press Club also volunteered to cater to four candidates during their visit at the Baybay Boulevard. Photo: PIA Eastern Samar
The candidates with the stall owner enjoying an afternoon under one of the "payongs" in Baybay Boulevard. Also with them are the Eastern Samar State University Criminology interns who served as their personal tourist guides during their stay in Borongan. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)

Borongan down under

Residents of two island barangays, Ando and Divinubo, displayed a festive welcome to the MPE candidates through a local dance and a ukulele serenade, portraying the Borongan culture.

Aside from the usual beach day, the candidates also experienced the beauty of Borongan underwater through diving and snorkeling, which was sponsored by a local diving community.

The women of Ando Island greet the visitors with a customary dance. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)

The candidates also feasted on Borongan’s bounty of the sea, prepared by the gracious islanders.

A free diver whose advocacy is underwater cleanup drives, Miss Dasol Pangasinan Abigail Cajegas, lauded Borongan’s conservation of its marine environment.

“My experience here in Borongan has been extremely remarkable. I am grateful for the opportunity to free-dive in the Divinubo Islands and experience the Boronganons’ discipline in caring for its coral reefs. If we can share the discipline of the Boronganons with the world, we can build a brighter, bluer future,” Cajegas said.

Che Calacal, a member of a local diving community who volunteered to provide a diving experience to the ladies of MPE 2024, gave instructions to the ladies before they plunged deep down. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)
A thriving marine ecosystem in Borongan. (Photo courtesy of Che Calacal

From the islands to the highlands

True to Miss Philippines Earth’s advocacy of environmental awareness, conservation, and social responsibility, the delegates planted over 100 endemic tree seedlings in the upland barangay of Hebacong.

Miss Makati Sam Samara plants a tree seedling in the mountains of Hebacong. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)

Forester Jojito Acla, the head of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, said the site where the delegates planted the tree seedlings will be called the “Miss Earth Reforestation Area” to support the city LGU’s forest conservation and protection advocacy.

Acla encouraged the ladies to return to Borongan three years later so they could see the progress of their tree, which would be individually labeled with their names.

As the MPE 2024 delegates left a mark in the then-insurgency hotspot community, they also brought with them a memorable experience in the breathtaking Hebacong sea of clouds.

The candidates overlooking the Hebacong Sea of Clouds while enjoying their breakfast of Borongan's local delicacies such as the "salukara" or rice flour pancake fermented with "tuba" (coconut wine) served on eco-friendly '"balanti" leaves. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)

Strutting in the upstream

The delegates visited the upstream barangays of San Gabriel and San Mateo to soak up the vibrant culture and warmth of the Boronganons.

They engaged with the local community and learned about eco-friendly initiatives such as crafting eco-bags from Coco Coir, the main source of livelihood for the women of San Gabriel.

Barangay officials of San Gabriel welcome the delegates with eco-friendly garlands made of coconut leaves. Photo: PIA Eastern Samar

The barangay officials also went all out in hosting the Miss Philippines Earth candidates and queens in their respective barangays. Barangay San Mateo even designed a unique carabao sleds or “kangga” to transport the delegates.

Enrique Alde, the chairperson of Barangay San Gabriel, mentioned that the barangay is honored to be chosen as one of the destinations of the MPE 2024 delegates.

Tayo po ay nandito hindi lamang mga indibidwal kundi mga mandirigma para sa kalikasan at kabuhayan ng ating komunidad,” Alde said.

(We are not just individuals but warriors and defenders of the environment and livelihood of our community.)

The women of San Gabriel Farmers ARB Coop teach coco coir twine weaving to the candidates. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)

The visit provided a platform for the candidates to witness the community’s efforts towards environmental conservation by using sustainable materials.

Miss Philippines Earth also worked with the Department of Education’s mobile library to spread environmental advocacy through storytelling with the learners in San Mateo, followed by a bamboo planting activity.

By embracing innovative approaches to sustainability, they continue to inspire action and raise awareness about preserving the planet’s precious resources.

Aside from teaching coco twine weaving to the delegates, the women of San Gabriel Farmers ARB Coop also gave coco coir bags to the candidates. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)

Furthermore, Ambil emphasized that the collective effort of the Boronganons made the event a success and did not require deep pockets to support the cause.

“We offered our guests an authentic Borongan experience, with small business owners as their gracious hosts. When questioned about our infrastructure or corporate backing, the response is straightforward: while those may be lacking, what we do have are Boronganons united in their commitment to community progress,” Ambil noted.

Hosting an event may be complex and challenging, but at the same time, it can be rewarding as incredible things happen when people come together. Whether it’s organizing events, supporting local initiatives, or addressing common challenges, collective action creates a sense of unity and collaboration, creating a positive impact on the whole community. (VTG, PIA Eastern Samar)

A member of the Baybay cleanliness team ensures that Baybay Boulevard is spotless before, during, and after the competition. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)
The City Disaster and Risk Reduction Management office (CDRRMO) led the rappelling activity as part of the 5-day visit of Miss Philippines Earth delegates in Borongan. The CDRRMO team also take charge of the safety and security of the candidates along with the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Philippine Army. (Photo courtesy of Borongan City Information Office)
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