“When the world sees us as a progressive town, we remain humble with our achievements. We believe that the true measure of success is not on how we are able to put up physical programs and projects but how we are able to uplift the lives of our people.…As we celebrate our town’s 100th Anniversary, we are privileged and honored to commemorate the historical celebration with our people. Above all, we give honor to our Patron Saint, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, for everything that we have now and for the bountiful blessings that are yet to come. Indeed, greatness follows when the common good of the welfare of our people is prioritized. Thus, we extend our gratitude to all Carrascalanons for being united and cooperative with one another through the years…,” was Carrascal’s Municipal Mayor Vicente H. Pimentel III’s centennial message to his happy constituents last July 16. Yes the hunk of a mayor with a shaved head is among the so called “young blood” at the helm of his beloved municipality who aspires for positive changes.
It took us eight hours to travel by land from Davao City to Carrascal, a fourth class municipality in the province of Surigao del Sur. It was a promise I made months ago to Davao’s most popular event director cum choreographer, the well-traveled and untiring Arnold L. Alvarez and his ever trusted assistant Pons Maignos, that saw me on the journey with the everlasting Mutya ng Davao 2000, Leah May Luna-Panisales, to sit as Chairman of the Board of Judges in the town’s Hiyas ng Carrascal 2019 beauty pageant. Yes, this was the longest trip I’ve traveled to judge in a beauty contest.
Carrascal is the boundary town of Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte. The town is known for its controversial mining industry. And yes, Jollibee and McDonald’s still have to find their way to Carrascal. Foodies and gourmands though would surely enjoy the bountiful seafood of Carrascal that is harvested from the Philippine Sea. Like in any other Philippine town, ukay-ukay stalls have mushroomed in this municipality especially during festive celebrations.
After a hearty dinner at the Governor’s Mansion where we met the town’s Who’s Who plus the Hiyas ng Carrascal 2019 emcees, Miss Grand International 1st runner up Nicole Cordoves and the macho tv personality Marc Nelson, we headed straight to the Carrascal Baywalk. The venue was filled with excited Carrascalanons who were there to support their respective candidates in the Hiyas ng Carrascal 2019 pageant.
“Marajaw Karajaw Carrascal!” The crowd was silenced when the invocation followed by the Philippine National Anthem were played on a widescreen. It was the Municipal Tourism Officer/Development Planning Coordinator/Chairperson of Hiyas ng Carrascal in the person of Crislynne Sugian-Huerta who delivered the welcome message. Then came the expected grand production number of Arnold L. Alvarez’s SiningTala Dance Company with the participation of the Carrascal Performing Arts to the loud applause of the audience.
The traditional parade of beauties was greeted next with a more deafening applause from the cheering crowd. Oh my, this was going to be a difficult job for the judges, I thought to myself, as the stunning candidates came all the way from the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao regions plus those mestizas from Great Britain, Canada, Ireland, the USA, Australia and Belgium. Indeed, as direk Arnold said, “The Hiyas
ng Carrascal is a sort of a mini Binibining Pilipinas or a Mutya ng Pilipinas beauty contest.” The candidates were judged based on the general criteria which included “Beauty of Face, Bearing, Outstanding Figure, Wit & Intelligence, Talent, and Community Outreach.” There were 19 candidates who participated which the judges narrowed down to the Top Eight candidates on the first round. From the Top Eight were chosen the lucky Top Five candidates which included Louise Theunis, Kyla Sanchez, Nikki Louise Tan, Kristi Celyn Banks and Jane Salisbury. The popular and handsome Filipino-Norwegian singer, actor, and daring Bench model Markki Stroem serenaded the ladies with his signature love ballads of yesteryears to the delight of the crowd.
“What do you think is the social issue that we need to consider and how can you contribute to resolve it?” was the lone question asked of each of the Top Five candidates by Marc Nelson. After two hours of amazing pageantry, the five judges finally voted for lucky candidate number 19, Louise Theunis, who answered and elaborated on the issue of self-esteem, as the Hiyas ng Carrascal 2019. Louise Theunis, who was earlier proclaimed as the Best in Formal Gown, placed number one in her National Pharmacists’ Board Examination. She is determined to inspire people and is aiming for a doctorate degree in her field of studies.
The other winners included Mia Jane Salisbury (first runner up), an aspiring movie director; law student and Best in Talent Nikki Louise Tan (2nd runner up); Kyla Sanchez (third runner up) who also won the Best in Filipiniana Tapestry; and Kristi Celyn Banks, the most photogenic candidate and the most hydrated as Miss Nature Spring.
Greetings on your Happy Centennial Celebration, Mayor Vicente H. Pimentel III, Vice Mayor Jessie James T. Valle and the Sangguniang Bayan Members. Thank you, Arnold L. Alvarez and Pons Maignos for inviting me to Carrascal, Surigao del Sur. More power to you all.