MANILA – Ecuador’s Olga Alava was crowned Miss Earth on Saturday after beating out contestants from 84 countries at the final of this international beauty competition, held this year in the Philippine capital.
Alava, 23, a native of Guayaquil and an international business graduate, was crowned queen of a pageant mostly dominated by Latin beauties who took three out of the top four places in the final.
Brazil’s Driely Bennettone was first runner-up and won the title of Miss Earth-Air, while the Venezuelan Caroline Medina came in fourth and was named Miss Earth-Fire.
Philippine Athena Imperial was third with the honorary title of Miss Earth-Water.
“Celebrating Forests for People” was the slogan of this year’s Miss Earth pageant, created by the Philippine company Carousel to raise awareness about the environment and the effects of climate change.
The Ecuadorian beauty, an enthusiast about Asian culture who studied in China for a year and speaks Mandarin, succeeds Nicole Faria from India, winner of the contest held a year ago in Vietnam.
Alava presented an ecological project for protecting Ecuador’s mangroves and has also become a spokeswoman for the protection of the Yasuni biosphere reserve in her country.
During the event she answered a question from the jury by saying that “education is the best solution for the environment because children are those who have to preserve the Earth for future generations.”
The winner will receive a cash award of $20,000 along with other prizes, and will become the spokeswoman for the Miss Earth Foundation and the United Nations Environment Program.