“Where do you see Santa Teresita in five years time, and what will you contribute to make this happen?”
This was the question for the top six finalists of the Search for Diwata at Prinsipe ng Kalikasan in Santa Teresita’s 3rd Namunit, 6th Ecotourism Festival on Saturday, March 10.
Being the only pageant in the province (or arguably in the region) which uniquely focuses its theme on environment, the pageant challenged young Teresians on their idea of the future and the role they will be playing for the ecotourism-rich town.
For this year’s winner of Diwata ng Kalikasan, Catherine Piel Soberano, the town will be among most developed towns in the province.
“Now, Santa Teresita belongs in the [list of] fourth-class municipalities of Cagayan. In the near future, I see the municipality as a first-class municipality in Cagayan and in the world,” she said.
Soberano also said she can contribute in the town’s development by being a student-leader and inspire others to “do more” and “dream more.” “As a youth leader, I will use my voice to educate my fellow youth. We can be the one that leads our fellow people,” she added.
In a move that gained cheers from the crowd, Soberano cited Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2002 as a need-to-be-implemented law in the town, and encouraged fellow citizens to follow the law.
This answer helped her earn this year’s title of “Diwata ng Kalikasan.”
However, Soberano said she was not supposed to be part of the pageant if it were not for her parent’s motivation. “Nawawalang po ako ng pag-asa nung una kasi yung mga other candidates ay mas experienced at mas maganda pero na-gain ko po ang confidence ko nung minotivate ako ng mga kasama ko,” she said. “They really want to see me for who I am,” she added.
Soberano usually competes in dance sport contests and street dance contests. She is also a campus journalist, writing editorial articles for Santa Teresita National High School. The grade 10 student hails from Centro West.
Meanwhile, Prinsipe ng Kalikasan winner Reymark Tabigne thinks his title is a reminder for him to become a role model to other young Teresians to preserve and conserve the environment.
As Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources 02 Regional Director Milagros Morales puts it, the natural resources of this town is a heritage for future generation. Rightfully so, as Prinsipe ng Kalikasan, Tabigne has recognized the duty he must fulfill in the next coming years.
Tabigne, like Soberano, also believes the town will achieve greater heights in terms of development especially through tourism.
Yet, the current prinsipe himself did not expect this momentous win, adding that he was unable to prepare for such kinds of questions. As a grade 10 student of Santa Teresita National High School, the Mission barangay native said he endured late nights of practice for the pageant.
“Una sa lahat, kabado [ako] kasi ang mga kalaban ko magagaling, matatalino, yung iba nga dancer. Ako, trying hard lang sumayaw. Pero ginawa ko ang lahat ng makakaya ko [para manalo],” Tabigne said.
“Kailangan lang mahaba ang pasensya mo. Kung desidido ka, kailangan mong magtiis, kayanin lahat ng pagod at hirap. Kung deserve mo, mananalo ka,” he added.
Tabigne and Soberano were not the only ones who have high predictions for the town. The top six finalists, who were given the same question with that of the winners, also believe that the town, which boasts a lake having a world-class fiber, 54 caves, and annually-discovered endemic species, will continue developing into a progressive town.
Other finalists also believe that in order to achieve this, everyone must follow necessary laws on environment. Despite not bagging home the coveted crowns, other candidates agree that, in order to preserve Santa Teresita’s natural wonders and treasures, everyone must cooperate and commit to love the environment. They believe that the town’s natural resources, through the annual Namunit Festival, will help them develop as a town.