Ivatans are Indigenous People (IP). There are many more IPs in our beautifully diverse country and they are important in defining the roots and identity of the Philippines and the Filipinos. This is why Miss Universe Philippines 2020 candidate Jan Alexis Elcano of Batanes focuses on her advocacy which is IP Empowerment.
“IPs should realize their value and role in their communities as the living representation of our history and identity as Filipinos. We should be empowered enough to realize both our importance and responsibilities in order for us to effectively and progressively cope with modern times while still protecting our heritage.” said Alex
Just before the lockdown in Metro Manila took effect, Alex took the last flight out to Batanes. She was lucky to be able to get home and spend time with the people she loves most. For the first two weeks, she was in isolation. This meant that she cannot go visit her sick aunt who is like a second mother.
Sadly before the self-quarantine period ended, the aunt passed away. It was such a painful time, especially that Alex could not spend time beside her during the final moments. This is one of the biggest tolls of Covid19 – people not being able to see their loved ones when they need you the most.
It took weeks before Alex was able to regain her bearings. And now that she found some renewed inner strength, she wants to continuously speak about women empowerment. As an Ivatan, she strongly supports sustainable tourism – a prime aspect in her province being maintained as per the Batanes Responsible Tourism Act This after the province has been declared as a Protected Area under Batanes Protected Area Act.
Fortunately, Batanes has no case of Covid-19 but it is still observing physical/social distancing and wearing of masks all the time. Since it is under GCQ, she can go out to exercise and maintain her fitness goals.
In parting, Alex has this to say:
“This pandemic made us all realize that life is short so we must value our time and spend it with the people we love the most and do things we are most passionate about. That’s why I really prioritize having quality time with the family by going out at sea shellfishing, cooking snacks together, we love making pizza, fries and chocolate shake, and simply enjoying each other’s company.
In summary, during this quarantine, I’ve been grieving over a loved one, catching up on school requirements, improving my mental and physical health, and spending quality time with my family. We may not be wealthy but I am grateful because we are all safe and comfortable here and I couldn’t ask for more. If I have the opportunity to do charity works like the others I definitely would, but for now, being a well-disciplined citizen by helping prevent the spread of Covid-19 is a great deed that we all can do to help our country.”