CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 21 April) — Residents of four Bukidnon towns were recently treated to a “once-in-a-lifetime” spectacle with candidates of the Miss Philippines Earth 2023 sashaying on stage as part of the national pageant’s preliminary competition.
The 29 candidates of Miss Philippines Earth showcased their poise and physique, donning Bukidnon native dresses and swimsuits during a summer-themed preliminary event before a jampacked crowd in Talakag town, Bukidnon on Wednesday night.
Prior to that, the candidates went to Barangay Miarayon, also in Talakag town, the vegetable center of Northern Mindanao, to see its agricultural fields.
The candidates also visited Manolo Fortich town, where they were presented to local government officials of the towns in the first congressional district of Bukidnon.
Miss Philippines Earth 2023 winners will be crowned in Toledo City, Cebu on April 29.
“This is a coming of age for these towns. For so long , these towns have been in the backwaters. Now the world is looking at us,” Bukidnon 1st District Rep. Jose Manuel Alba said.
Alba brought the entire production of Miss Philippines Earth 2023 to Bukidnon for the preliminary events of the pageant held in the towns of Manolo Fortich, Talakag, Sumilao and Baungon.
He said the holding of the national beauty pageant was a first for residents of these towns.
“Our market is the nation eventually. We want the country to see the potential of these towns,” Alba said.
Alba noted that Manolo Fortich was transformed into a first-class municipality from its humble origin of being a watering hole for herds of cows that were brought to Cagayan de Oro City to be shipped to the markets in Manila.
“Hundreds of cows are driven along the rolling plains of Manolo Fortich every month. The town was the watering hole for the cows and cowboys to drink and rest before continuing the journey to Cagayan de Oro, “ said Manuel Fortich, the US-based son of former Bukidnon Governor Carlos “Totoy” Fortich.
He said the town was transformed after World War II when the government granted homestead lands to fleeing residents who escaped the Japanese occupation.
Alba said the same history is true to the town of Talakag, which was founded by homestead lands granted to residents who fled the war.
“Now Talakag is another first-class municipality, the vegetable center of Northern Mindanao. We are promoting its agro-tourism potentials,” Alba said.
Cagayan de Oro Councilor Malvern Espacia said he was impressed with how the contestants in Bukidnon native dresses ramp up the stage in Talakag to the ethnic music of a local band.
“This itself is a message that these towns are not about to dump their traditions while they embraced modern inroads in their communities,” Espacia said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)