A THOMASIAN beauty straps on her heels, paints a sweet smile, and steps into the stage—all for the good cause of helping the environment.

Medical technology student Angela Fernando bested 49 other title aspirants from all over the country, en route to clinching fourth place in the Miss Philippines Earth pageant last April 24.

Fernando, the 5’7” tall beauty from Lubao, Pampanga, also bagged the Best in Cultural Costume award after flaunting an embroidered white gown with wildflower-like designs from native products in Lubao, such as palay, corn hash and sampaguita flowers. She also won special awards like Ms. Photogenic, Ms. Ever Bilena  and Miss Eco-Tourism

“I’m very glad to have given pride to UST,” said Fernando, who is a former Ideal Thomasian Personality awardee in 2008.

But beyond winning the Miss Earth pageant is a commitment to the environment, which “needs as much attention [as in] our health or education because it’s obviously an essential to healthy living,” Fernando said.

True enough, she had been actively involved in the Zero Waste Election with Eco Waste Coalitions, a campaign spearheaded by Miss Philippines Earth and Miss Earth Foundation to minimize garbage from the May 10 elections.

The team went to communities in Quezon City to help remove campaign materials and educate residents on how to recycle these. As the next school year opens this month, the foundation will also hold school tours to promote environmental awareness to the youth, particularly those in the public schools.

Lessons from the pageant

Fernando, whose curves figure 33-24-34, is already a veteran of these events, having joined different beauty contestssince high school. In 2007, she won Ms. Pharmacy and represented her college in the university-wide pageant the following year. Fernando was only a freshman when she was named the Miss Ideal Thomasian Personality in 2008.

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But the Miss Philippines Earth pageant proved to be a tougher ride than the contests she had previously joined in. Preparation and rehearsals would sometimes end at midnight and would start again at 5 a.m. the next day. The cutthroat competition caught Fernando by surprise that she actually did not expect to be one of the titlists.

“You need to be versatile and ready every time—physically, mentally, and emotionally,” Fernando said. “Also, you have to know how to deal with all kinds of people. I think those don’t only apply to pageants but even in our daily lives.”

Fernando translated what could have been a stressful experience into a memorable thing” and focusing on her sources of strength—her family and friends. Justinne Chynna V. Garcia

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