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Beauty queen with a mission: New Miss Philippines Earth wants to protect Mother Earth

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Irha Mel Alfeche

When Irha Mel Alfeche entered the Miss Philippines Earth 2024 pageant, she aimed for more than just a crown. At 24, this newly minted beauty queen from Matanao, Davao del Sur is on a mission to protect Mother Earth with her advocacy for “eating green and living green.”

For Irha, her advocacy is not just a slogan but a way of life. “Eating green is just as crucial as living green. My advocacy primarily focuses on urban or home gardening, a practice that has become more pertinent recently. The pandemic has taught us the value of resourcefulness and innovation,” she shared in an interview.

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2024 Miss Philippines Earth Irah Mel Alfece believes in promoting urban farming as a way of protecting Mother Earth. (Photo by Noel Pabalate)

Urban gardening, she explains, involves cultivating plants in urban settings, whether in apartments, residences, or other areas with little to no land space. Irha believes that this practice is beneficial not only to the environment but also to the country’s economy and food security.

During the pre-pageant activities on Camiguin Island, Irha observed local residents tending to vegetable gardens in the barrios they visited. She was thrilled to see that even in urban areas in other parts of Mindanao, residents embraced this sustainable practice. “If you live in a city, urban gardening is excellent work,” she enthused.

Support for eco-tourism

Irha’s passion for the environment extends to eco-tourism as well. She advises municipalities to invest in their local communities. “To further promote eco-tourism, we must invest in the locals in training and calibrate them with the traits Filipinos are known for. That way, tourists will feel more comfortable, loved, and carefree away from home, so they will feel invested in returning and enjoying themselves again,” she said.

Educating the people

A graduate in special needs education, Irha believes in the power of education to foster environmental conservation.

“As an educator, I need to educate the young ones, the children, to preserve and conserve our Mother Earth, and as the new Miss Philippines Earth, I will be a role model in protecting our Mother Earth. Always remember that if we work together, we can create an environment for a better future,” she said.

A believer in hard work

Irha also believes that her advocacy will need a lot of work, just like her journey to the Miss Philippines Earth crown.

“Simple. I have what it takes. I’ve got what it takes, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be a successful Miss Philippines Earth 2024,” she confidently stated.

She fondly recalled participating in beauty pageants as a child, with one particular event in her grandfather’s hometown standing out as especially memorable. “Having joined three times, I’ve learned that pursuing your goals in life requires a great deal of hard work, persistence, and discipline,” she said.

Learning from a strong mom

Irha points to her mother’s resilience as her model. Reflecting on her childhood, she described it as a roller coaster ride which she survived thanks to her mother’s strength that made her grow into an equally strong and independent woman.

“I’ve grown more independent and committed to life’s realities because I believe everything happens for a reason, and that purpose has shaped who I am now,” she said.

Reinventing Beauty Pageants

As for Miss Philippines Earth, the contest is now in its 23rd year and its producer, Carousel Productions Inc., emphasizes its environmental advocacy. Lorraine Schuck, co-founder and Executive Vice President of Carousel, highlights the unique mission of the pageant.

“Because many people admire and aspire to be a beauty queen, Carousel Productions believes beauty queens could be good and effective advocates of worthy causes. Since 2001, Miss Philippines Earth has existed to have its candidates and winners actively promote and get involved in the preservation of the environment,” Schuck said.

Irha Mel Alfeche’s journey to the Miss Philippines Earth crown is a story of dedication to one’s personal dreams and to the greater cause of environmental conservation. As Irha prepares to take her advocacy to the international stage, her message is clear: With hard work and a commitment to sustainability, beauty queens can live up to a mission of truly protecting Mother Earth.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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