Being a Bayer Young Environmental Ambassador of the Philippines to Germany 2008 really makes someone more critical and responsive to contemporary issues and concerns. Less seriously but interestingly speaking, it makes someone a celebrity on his/her own right.
Last February, Laoag City, the capital of Ilocos Norte, celebrated the annual Pamulinawen Festival. One of the highlights of the celebration is the search for Ms. Pamulinawen International. Janill Magano, our 2007 BYEE and one of the 2008 Top 10 Outstanding Student of the Philippines, was invited to be one of the panel interviewers in the pageant and be in-charge in measuring the level of environmental awareness the candidates have.
He asked one of the most beautiful contestants (in fact, she is the first runner up and she received almost all special awards) what organization is she representing. She answered, “Sangguniang Kabataan.” He asked again, “What are the thrust of SK?” She replied, “I don’t know. It’s not my obligation to know them.” In shock and extreme frustration he said, “You are representing an organization that you don’t even know?!” Every time I remember her answer I become annoyed because really, I have never realized that beauty pageants are worthless- only then. It served a good purpose though! It’s my motivation for this project.
Making beauty queens as ambassadors of the environment is not a new thing, but it will be in the province. The idea sounds so simplistic but if one gets to see people shouting and even crying for their idols as if they are willing to be enslaved by them, he/she would soon realize this idea’s potential. Whether we like it or not, rural folks including the youth are oftentimes magnetized by celebrity figures, and beauty queens are good examples. Team building (even information drive) geared towards commitment revival is a very frustrating effort. But, if we can involve even just local beauty queens perhaps it would be less difficult.
Anyway, being environmental is supposed to be a part of their “causes”. For instance, they can be invited to “inspire” during the orientation activity so as to initially build a sense of excitement and willingness to attend in future discussions. Or, they can be the lecturers themselves. If they would insist on being treated really like “Beauty Queens”, then we could perhaps float them first in carts with a motif about marine life and with banners saying, “Save the earth”. Save yourselves” (in ilocano, of course). It sounds pretty convincing but a bit ironic because we have beauty queens smiling and waving their hands. The important thing though is that the message is well communicated, and that a degree of excitement is being nurtured in their thoughts. Perhaps this capital is significant enough for the more serious project implementers to invest on.
In my years of experience in extension I have come to realize the importance of an artistic-phase in the program implementation process. This means that there be an innovative way of transforming goals into an art-like paradigm of activities. This does not mean that the clienteles will just satisfy their senses out of the pleasures made inherent in the activities. It’s just that aesthetic experiences directly influence the educative quality of a project. So if the clientele will learn first to enjoy the series of activities prepared for them, then it is easier to convey the real message and goals of the project. In ordinary situations, this “aesthetic experience” that I am referring to is the color – the tone strength of visual perception that enables a person to discriminate between antagonistic descriptions like beautiful from ugly, attractive from dull, introvert from extrovert, and so on. Once a person perceives an irresistibly enticing edifice of activities in a project, be it on the activities per se or the people to be involved, surely, he/she will give even the most valuable of his/her time understanding and appreciating what the project is all about.
There is a great difference between a beauty queen just posing in front of the camera holding a shovel to an enthusiastic one with a genuine desire to fulfill what she is called for. Of course, although the project should ideally include all titlists, a screening committee should still be organized to really asses their level of knowledge and commitment to the problem being addressed. The last thing that I could possibly hope for is for them to just wear their bathing suits and have a pictorial.
Filipinos are visual individuals by nature. They are easily attracted with that they see and get easily persuaded by the people they love to stare at. If we could utilize this character to the project’s advantage, why not? In this effort, we need to exhaust all possible means to make the clienteles understand, appreciate and most importantly, commit themselves to the goals of the project. This may also give justice to the title “Beauty Queen”. Well, we cannot and should not possibly tolerate an ignorant and idle icon, especially for the youth.