Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) candidates have explored key tourist destinations in this city and Samar during their first two days in the region.
The 38 candidates arrived in the city on Monday and joined a welcome lunch, offering the region’s best dishes and native delicacies.
“I am really honored and in behalf of all the ladies I would like to thank you for the preparation for allowing us (to) experience Leyte, its culture, food, dances, and music,” Miss Agusan del Norte Jannarie Zarzoso said during the lunch hosted by Tingog Party-list and House of Representatives Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez at the Nipa Hut.
After lunch, their first major activity was a motorcade around the city and supporters cheered their favorite candidates.
Among the crowd favorites were Pauline Amelinckx (Bohol), Michelle Dee (Makati), and candidates from Eastern Visayas Layla Adriatico (Northern Samar), Airish Ramos (Eastern Samar), and Kimberly Escartin (Southern Leyte).
After the motorcade, the delegates went to the Tacloban port area to experience the San Juanico sunset cruise.
Joining them were MUPH officials headed by Jonas Gaffud, and Department of Tourism 8 (Eastern Visayas) Director Karina Rosa Tiopes.
During the cruise, the aesthetic light of the San Juanico Bridge was switched on after the yacht carrying the candidates passed under it.
After about 30 minutes of watching the lights, the ladies went back to the Tacloban port area and headed to the Price Mansion for a barbeque-themed dinner.
The Price Mansion is one of the historic structures in the city. being the official residence of General Douglas McArthur during the Liberation Period of World War II.
On Tuesday, candidates explored Basey, Samar, specifically the Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge, Panhulugan Cave and its amazing rock formations, Saob Cave, and Saint Michael the Archangel Church.
They also made a stop at Caluwayan Palm Island Resort in Marabut, Samar.
On May 3, they will take a trip to Palompon, Leyte to explore Kalanggaman Island.
The national costume shoot on May 4 will be in the vast rice field of Isidro village in Sta. Fe Leyte. At night, the national costume competition will be held at the Leyte Normal University in this city.
On May 5, MUPH candidates will join a charity activity at the SOS Children’s Village here, a cultural and heritage tour in Tacloban City and nearby Palo town, and will offer flowers at the Yolanda Mass Grave at Holy Cross Memorial Garden in this city.
Tiopes said the holding of the national costume competition here is a good opportunity for the region to showcase what it can offer to guests.
“Over 95 percent of the Miss Universe Philippines as candidate, organizers, and technical team are first timers in the region. While some trace their roots to some towns in the region, they never had the chance to come for visits,” she said.
“Every place they visit, every dish and delicacy they taste, every craft they see, every local entertainment experience, every Eastern Visayan they engage with is a revelation of our natural bounty, our culture and heritage, artistry and abilities, character and values.”
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed 1,973 policemen to secure the candidates’ destinations, manage the traffic, ensure route safety, and oversee crowd control during the MUPH activities in the region.
The PNP has also deployed 38 close-in security personnel, with one police officer assigned to each candidate.
These police officers recently underwent a refresher course on VIP security.
The regional police will impose a heightened alert status until May 6.
Policemen in close coordination with concerned government agencies will undertake extensive security measures to prevent lawless elements and any unfavorable incident from disrupting the event.
“Given the pageant’s popularity, we will further boost our tourism industry not only by the tourist attractions but likewise with the peace and order in the region,” said Police Regional Office (PRO) 8 Director, Brig. Gen Rommel Francisco Marbil.
The Miss Universe Philippines organization brought the competition to Eastern Visayas through the efforts of the Tingog Party-list and Speaker Romualdez. (PNA)