I have quite a number of fond memories about Miss Earth 2001. I remember covering the first edition of the environmental beauty search for Mabuhay Pageants, visiting the ladies at Hotel Intercontinental Manila – their official residence, interviewing my favorites during a pre-pageant activity at Manila Polo Club, watching the (relatively crude-ishly staged) Preliminaries held at the then Mandaluyong City Gymnasium and witnessing the live coronation at UP Theatre.
I remember Misses Argentina Daniela Stucan and Miss Kazakhstan Margarita Kravstsova being the most fiercely-competitive among the 42 candidates and hoping to high heavens that they would nail the crown. Connected to that, I remember sitting down for a one-on-one with the latter who was starting to act up like a stilted presence, but eventually showed a more civil attitude.
I remember the very warm and friendly Miss India Shamita Singha who had the right amount of confidence to figure out well in the finals. She made Top 10, but was disappointed when she no longer advanced to the Final 4.I remember the mother of Miss Philippines Carlene Aguilar who always reserved the loudest cheers for her daughter.
I remember the non-English speaking but very gracious and beautiful Miss Bolivia Catherine Villarroel who profusely thanked me when I complimented on how “muy lindo!” she is.
I remember the kooky but happy-to-be-with Evelyn Mikomagi of Estonia who was very happy when she was named to the Top 10.
I remember Miss USA Abby Royce who, upon learning that I was constantly hunting her down for a quick interview, gave me the most profound environment-laced answers that would put any Miss Earth wannabe to shame.
But more than anyone else, I remember the statuesque, no-nonsense and cordial Catharina Svensson, the equestrienne, model and law student from Copenhagen who was named the very first Miss Earth. She was one of the earliest arrivals, had a very commanding presence and gave simple but sensible answers to any question thrown at her. Actually, she was only running to be one of the elemental court members. But when she answered the final Q&A, there was no question that the judges had found the most deserving inaugural winner of the competition.
Oh, I really do have so many positive thoughts about Miss Earth 2001. 🙂