PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines
– With her strong stand on the country’s territorial claim over the Spratlys, a girl from the Kalayaan Island Group easily won the nod of judges and was declared Mutya ng Palawan 2011 last week.
During the question and answer portion of the pageant held at the Cory Park main stage in this Palawan capital last Tuesday, Miss Kalayaan Sarah Sopio Osorio said the Kalayaan Island Group, where she grew up and lives, is part of Philippine territory, impressing former Miss Universe Gloria Diaz who chaired the board of judges.
Asked by actor and television host Luis Manzano, who acted as master of ceremonies, what her pet project would be if she would win the title of Mutya ng Palawan, Osorio said, “I will focus on the biggest problem of my municipality and that is terrestrial jurisdiction. Southeast Asian countries are claiming my municipality and I can’t agree on that because it is my municipality and is part of the Philippines only.”
Provincial officials watched in awe as they listened to the short but precise and substantial answer of Osorio, who bested 12 other finalists.
Gov. Baham Mitra said, “It’s a very good answer and we are very proud to know that a young Palaweña is ready to speak up for the Kalayaan Group of Islands. Maybe our leaders in the national government should take a cue from her and tell the world, especially our neighbors in Southeast Asia, that the Kalayaan Group of Islands is part of the Philippines only,” Mitra said.
Employees from the provincial capitol said it was the first time a candidate from the Kalayaan Group of Islands won the pageant.
Mitra earlier said the province of Palawan would support diplomatic initiatives of the national government toward a peaceful resolution of the controversy stemming from the many claimants of the resource-rich Spratly Islands.
Osorio, who dreams of becoming a diplomat, said she joined the beauty pageant to represent the Kalayaan Island Group and show everyone what Kalayaan can offer.
Her pet project will include programs that will present the natural beauty of Palawan.
She said she also intends to raise economic and social issues such as transportation, education, “banca” (boats) for transportation and fishing in the island.
The other winners in the pageant were Miss Cuyo Maria Daziella Lazaro Gange, first runner-up; Miss San Vicente Thoreen Halvorsen, second runner-up; Miss Taytay Diana Grace Escasinas Nolsol, third runner-up; and Miss Aborlan Diana Sunshine Manabit Rademann, fourth runner-up.
Among those who watched the pageant were officials of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) who were in Palawan attending the transport, infrastructure and ICT development cluster meeting.
The province of Palawan celebrated the founding anniversary of the civil government through the Baragatan Festival.
Baragatan is derived from the Cuyonon word “bagat” which means to meet.
The festival is a showcase of Palawan’s agricultural crops, arts and crafts, cultures, traditions and people coming from the 23 municipalities.
The theme of this year’s festival is “Masiglang Baragatan sa Palawan 2011.”
By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star)