Apr 19
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After the film 'Baler,' Aurora now hosts Mutya ng Pilipinas

After the film 'Baler,' Aurora now hosts Mutya ng Pilipinas

Author: Leah C. Salterio

After the province's capital became the backdrop for the Jericho Rosales-Anne Curtis award-winning film of the same name, "Baler," Aurora aroused the interest of the people.

No one is perhaps prouder about this fact than Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, who affirms that the film had tremendous impact on Aurora's tourism.

"From 2008 to the first quarter of this year, we are confident that we have already exceeded the 137 percent increase posted from 2007 to 2008," says Castillo. "By the time I end my term as governor, I would love to see Aurora on a different list, as one of the most progressive provinces in the country."

On August 9, Aurora will again become the focus of the nation as the province hosts this year's "Mutya ng Pilipinas." The breathtaking beauty of the majestic and historic province will be revealed to the rest of the country and also the world, when the national beauty contest crowns its new title holders.

Now on its 41st year, the pageant is dubbed "Mutya ng Pilipinas sa Aurora - The Beauty Adventure in the Pacific." The launch was held last June 26 at SM City North EDSA, where Castillo, chairman of the executive committee, signed the agreement with Roberto de Venecia, president of the pageant. Chairman of this year's national search committee is top fashion designer Renee Salud, who will also get to dress up the candidates with their long gowns.

"Mutya ng Pilipinas" will see local candidates and delegates who represent overseas Filipino communities that have been formidable partners of the annual pageant. Thus, there will be beauties joining from Northern and Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Midwest, the East Coast, Hawaii, Canada, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia.

This marks the third year in a row that "Mutya ng Pilipinas" is being held in a prime eco-tourism destination. This is in keeping with the aim of the pageant to promote beauty tourism.
In 2007, the contest was staged at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. Last year, the pageant was held in Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, the ecological frontier of the Philippines.

Having "Mutya ng Pilipinas" in her hometown is part of Castillo's dream to take out Aurora from the Club 20 list of the poorest provinces in the county. "This is a very opportune time for Aurora to be known as an eco-tourism haven and investment hub," allows Castillo, who is now on her second term of office as governor, after having also served as congressman of the province for three terms.

"Aurora is the only gateway of Central Luzon or Region 3 to the Pacific. We can show investors the vast potentials of the province. I'm very confident investors will find our place a very good venue for investment. When you are in point zero, there is no way to go but up."

Since it started in the late '60s, "Mutya ng Pilipinas" has produced beauty queens who became prominent after winning their respective titles. Most of them ventured into show business, while others tried their hand at modelling, being entrepreneurs or even politics.

The '70s saw Alice Crisostomo, Carolyn Masibay, Rio Diaz, Emma Yuhico, Yehlen Catral, Lorraine Schuck, Tetchie Agbayani.

The '80s had Carines Zaragoza, Bong Dimayacyac, Aurora Sevilla, Sherry Rose Byrne, Malou Aposol, Cindy Lotuaco, Star Querubin and Lorna Legaspi.

The '90s produced such title holders as Mutya Laxa, Gemith Gemparo, Michelle Aldana, Sherilyn Reyes, Maricel Morales and Daisy Reyes.

From 2000 onwards, there were Josephine Canonizado, Darlene Carbungco, Anna Marie Morelos and Loren Andre Burgos. Reigning queens are Jonavi Raisa Quiray and Jam Charish Libatog.

The winners of the "Mutya ng Pilipinas" are sent to international pageants like Miss Asia Pacific International, Miss Tourism International, Tourism Queen of the Year and Miss Intercontinental.

"Mutya ng Pilipinas" serves as a vehicle to promote everything that is beautiful in the Filipina and the Philippines. The organization is motivated and inspired by its guiding thrust to assist in promoting tourism, social responsibility, fashion and beauty pageantry - which differentiates it from other pageants.

This August, guests and candidates in the "Mutya ng Pilipinas" will get to enjoy the beauty and bounty of Aurora. The pristine province has its share of historical sites like the home of the first president of the Commonwealth, Manuel L. Quezon, as well as the beautiful Catholic church in Baler.

"We have the biggest forest cover in the country, the most majestic ocean, picturesque waterfalls, panoramic beaches and the breathtaking Sierra Madre mountain range," boasts Castillo. "We want to make people realize Aurora is an environment-friendly province."

Source: The Manila Bulletin