MANILA, Philippines?Brazil thwarted the Philippines? attempt to win a back-to-back victory in the Miss Earth beauty pageant held at Boracay Ecovillage Convention Center on the island of Boracay Sunday night.
Brazil?s Larissa Ramos bested 78 other contestants, including hometown bet Sandra Inez Seifert. She took home the $20,000 prize and the distinction of being the first woman to receive the newly designed crown valued at $100,000. Last year?s winner, the Philippines? Karla Paula Henry, gave her a tight embrace before relinquishing the title.
Ramos is the second Brazilian to be proclaimed Miss Earth, the first one being Priscilla Meirelles, who chaired the pageant?s panel of judges.
Seifert placed second and was proclaimed Miss Air. She was a heavy favorite leading into the finals and had earlier received two major awards during the preliminary competitions, namely, Best in Swimsuit and Best in Evening Gown.
In the final round of competition, the ladies were shown photographs depicting environmental issues and were asked for their reactions.
Ramos, a 20-year-old Biology student, talked about air pollution. With the aid of an interpreter, she said her country had the largest rainforest on earth and was considered the ?lungs of the world.?
Brazil, however, is also the world?s worst air polluter, she admitted.
When it was her turn, Seifert discussed water pollution.
?We are the root of all these problems. But the good news is, we are also the solution,? said the 25-year-old nurse. ?We can make the change now. Now is the time for leaders to be born. Let us embrace this mission, and become creative in solving our problems.?
The mostly Filipino crowd at the convention center responded with thunderous applause.
After the proclamation of winners, the other delegates rushed over to congratulate Ramos and Seifert, as well as the two other winners, Miss Water Jessica Barboza of Venezuela and Miss Fire Alejandra Echevarria of Spain.
The delegates from Thailand, Poland, Martinique and Colombia made it to the Top 8. The other ladies in the Top 16 were the representatives from Korea, Northern Ireland, South Africa, France, Singapore, Georgia, India and Paraguay.
This was the first time Boracay hosted an international beauty contest. Pageant host Marc Nelson said the venue was built specifically for the Miss Earth pageant, a Philippine-based competition that started in 2001.