THE eight contestants participating in this year’s Miss NMI Earth pageant received their sashes in a pinning ceremony at the Saipan mayor’s office on Thursday.

“The Miss Earth pageant is an international environmental event channeling the beauty pageant entertainment industry as an effective tool to promote environmental awareness,” said Miss NMI Earth 2020 Maria Lael Terlaje.

“Because many people admire and aspire to be a beauty queen, Carousel Productions Inc. believes beauty queens would be good and effective advocates of worthy causes.”

The pageant candidates and winners actively promote and are involved in the preservation of the environment and the protection of Mother Earth, Terlaje said.

“Apart from [placing] a strong emphasis on the environmental protection program, Miss Earth also aims to showcase and promote various tourist destinations,” she added.

This year’s contestants are Sue Ann Huevos, Macey Fujihira, Megan Hemley, Tawnie Borja, Crystal Fiona Rio, Stephanie Borja, Bianca Joy Zapata, and Justine Rain Selepeo Kirby.

Hailing from Chinatown is contestant No. 1, 18-year-old Sue Ann Huevos whose advocacy is to “go green” because it will reduce pollution and environmental toxins that could affect the human immune system.

“I would like to educate the people of the CNMI and future generations to take better care of our home so Mother Earth can be a better place to live in,” she said.

Contestant No. 2, 18-year-old Macey Fujihira from San Antonio, said her advocacy is to encourage more sustainable packaging.

“I want to do this because I want to help reduce our plastic waste and encourage an eco-friendlier lifestyle,” she said.

Nineteen-year-old Megan Hemley, contestant No. 3, is advocating for green building.

“I want to promote a more eco-friendly and sustainable living buildings in our environment,” she said.

Contestant No. 4, 17-year-old Tawnie Borja from San Antonio, wants to assist and encourage the CNMI community in preserving and beautifying the environment.

“It is also to represent, support, and inspire our community and youth. I joined the Miss Earth Northern Marianas in hopes to be more involved and expand my knowledge of all the threats to our environment, and to gain an experience that will aid me in striving for a better and brighter future,” she said.

Eighteen-year-old Crystal Fiona Rio from Chalan Kanoa is contestant No. 5, and her advocacy is pollution education.

“I want to educate our community on the different types of pollution that affect our environment, and I want them to overcome these through collaborating to find different ways to get rid of these,” she said.

Contestant No. 6, 20-year-old Stephanie Borja from Tinian, said she aims to sustain and conserve the wealth of the land and the ocean for the people of today and the people of the future.

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Joy Zapata from Koblerville is contestant No. 7, and she wants to address waste management and air pollution.

“I want to make everyone acknowledge safer ways to dispose [of] our trash while refraining from polluting our air,” she said.

Contestant No. 8, 19-year-old Justine Rain Selepeo Kirby from Capital Hill, said her goal is to spread knowledge about environmental health and the ways that it can be put into practice.

“Yes, climate change is one of the main factors affecting our islands, if not the world. There is no 'one-size-fits-all’ solution for this issue, but there are things that we can do. Specifically, I want to target illegal dumping, which is one of the biggest issues that we’re facing here in the CNMI,” she said.

Kirby said she draws her inspiration from her mother who is an environmental enforcement officer at the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality- Coastal Resource Management, as well as from the people today who work really hard to keep the CNMI beautiful.

Every year, 80 to 90 Miss Earth candidates from all over the world compete on beauty and knowledge of environmental issues.

The winner of Miss Earth will serve as the ambassador to environmental protection campaigns worldwide.

Terlaje thanked Mayor David M. Apatang and his staff, as well as Miss Earth Marianas president Dee Clayton, national director Norman Del Rosario, assistant national director Raine Russell, pageant director Ernie Molina, logistics director Joann Aquino, beauty director Luciann-Indalecio Hart, beauty director Monet Garcia, hospitality director Tanya Salas, and volunteer director Nikki Malakai for their support.

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