Contributed by Howard Kuay
17 September 2009: The stage was set at the Bellini Grande, a swanking, modern day supper club, for the coronation night of the Miss Earth Singapore 2009. Valerie Lim, 24, a behavior therapist, beat 12 other finalists to be crowned Miss Earth Singapore 2009. Nine months of gruelling preparation had gone into this competition, and if “green energy” can actually be felt, this would probably be it.
Three years ago, the Miss Earth franchise was brought into Singapore by CT Hansen International as a vehicle to create awareness for the environment. The objective of the pageant is to increase the level of awareness about current environmental issues, and working with broadcast and print media to encourage young people to be personally responsible in protecting the environment as a lifestyle habit. The winners of the Miss Earth Pageant embody this message as ambassadors, believing that “if beauty can launch a thousand ships, [then] it can certainly influence people to help protect and preserve the environment”.
This year’s pageant was the “year of implementation, where new initiatives have been jointly created by … passionate Green Ambassadors, business associates, sponsors and supporters.” It was a pageant with a difference, one appreciated by audience member Wen Ng Yang who prefers the Miss Earth pageant to other pageants because it is “more about personality than beauty”.
Fittingly, this year’s sponsors all shared a strong corporate social responsibility culture: Caspoll Style makes eco-friendly eel skin purses; Siloso Beach Resort boasts nature conservation as part of their resort’s draw; and The Singapore Shawl seeks to provide employment and income for marginalized women. This meeting for CSR giants culminated with the beautiful, green-minded contestants that gracing the stage.
Turning talk into action was a key element in this year’s competition. Past winners Ivy Leow (Miss Earth Singapore Winner 2008) and Yen Wu Ling (Miss Earth Singapore 2008 — Fire) told City News that the first activity for the new contestants at the beginning of the year, “Redesigning Workshop”, was their way of implementing what they have learned. This initiative requires participants to recycle old clothes and accessories and turn them into “new” usable fashion apparel. With the 2009 finalists, the clothes created at this workshop were showcased during Earth Hour at the Esplanade Park in March, and at tonight’s segments “Junk to Funk”, an expression of the candidate’s personality through the design, and “Stale to Style” injecting new life into old clothes in a elegant manner.
Judges for this year’s competition were Calvin Cheong, Director of Looque Models and Lumina Looque International; Geraldine Tay, Marketing Manager of St James Holdings; Timothy Go, Presenter and Sales Producer of Channel News Asia, Mediacorp; Howard Shaw, Chief Executive, Singapore Environment Council; Nadya Hatagalung, celebrity and founder of Green Kampung; and Samuel Seow, Managing Director, Samuel Seow Law Corporation.
Hosted by Power 98 DJ Elliott Danker and founder of InQueenz Academy Genecia Luo, the evening began with a performance by jazz crooner Rob Collins. The women were judged by the panel based on their figure, charm/beauty/poise/projection, intelligence, personality/attitude and environmental awareness. It was a tough competition and the women went through what seemed like countless rounds: they first emerged in their evening gowns, went through two swim-wear segments, presented their “redesigned” clothes with masquerade masks before going through the much-awaited question-and-answer segment, in which each had to answer a question from a judge.
The first round saw the exit of five contestants out of the 13 finalists, then as the top eight danced with Collins before entering into the Q&A session, which determined the top four, and the winner of Miss Earth Singapore 2009.
|PHOTOS: Jayson Lee
As the judges made their decision, the crowd was abuzz with speculation on who should win. Finally, the two hosts proceeded to announce the top 4 of Miss Earth Singapore 2009: The third runner up was Stella Zheng (Miss Earth Singapore — Fire); second runner up was Deborah Chan (Miss Earth Singapore — Water); third runner up was Nur Amira (Miss Earth Singapore — Air) and the queen of them all, Valerie Lim was crowned Miss Earth Singapore 2009. In true “greenie” style, there were no eco-unfriendly confetti or fireworks, so the crowning did seem a little low-key but was made up for by the droves of friends and family who mobbed the contestants after the crowning.
Valerie Lim, fresh from her win, told City News that she hopes to play a part in helping Singaporeans “take small steps in changing [their] mindset [toward greening]” and she hopes to start with children and teach a new generation good green habits.
Second runner up Deborah Chan, a fashion merchandising and marketing student, has learned some good habits, such as bringing her own recycled plastic bags whenever she goes shopping. First runner up Nur Amina noted that time management was very important, should someone want to champion the green cause.
One left the room feeling a greater sense of purpose for the green cause. If 13 girls could put themselves through nine months of preparation to vie to be green ambassadors, surely Singaporeans can do something on a daily basis to protect the earth. Perhaps this writer should quickly finish up this article so that he can switch off his computer, conserve electricity and head to a nearby park to enjoy the scenery.