By Robert Requintina
Batangas City – A 20-year-old radio talent from the east African nation of Rwanda easily stood out from the rest of the field in the swimsuit competition of the Miss Earth 2017 pageant at the Pontefino Estates Friday night.
Honorine Hirwa Uwase paraded in front of the judges in her yellow orange gown, confidently and bravely hanging on to a long-held Rwanda tradition against wearing bikinis in public.
Uwase responded with a sincere smile when quizzed on her decision not to don a bikini, like her fellow candidates.
It is not customary for Rwandese beauty queens to wear bikinis in public.
But in 2016, former Miss Rwanda Colombe Akiwacu made waves when she became the first Rwandan to wear a bikini at the Miss Supranational pageant in Poland.
Akiwacu’s critics rued that she went against the country’s cultural norms and values by putting on a revealing swimwear.
Supporters, however, thought otherwise.
Aside from Miss Earth and Miss Supranational contests, Rwandan beauty queens have also participated in Miss World and Miss Universe pageants.
“The fact that we are Rwandese, my family is a 1994 genocide survivor. The genocide against Tutsi that happened 23 years ago, wiped away many family members and property, so when it ended we had to start rebuilding and restoring ourselves from zero and now we have a successful story to share,” said Uwase.
At the swimsuit competition for Group 3 of the Miss Earth 2017 contest, Miss Puerto Rico Karla Aponte won Gold medal for Best in Swimsuit.The Silver medal went to Miss Switzerland Sarah Peyrel and Bronze, Miss USA Andreia Gibau.
Message to Trump
Reacting to the forthcoming visit of President Donald Trump in Manila, Miss Earth – USA Andreia Gibau said that she hopes Trump will visit some of the eco-tourism spots in the Philippines.
“I hope that he gets to visit some of the eco-tourism spots in the country,” said Gibau during an interview at the same event.
“There’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I just wanted to tell him that he needs to put more love and more support into people, especially in the hurricane that happened in Puerto Rico, the hurricane that happened in Florida.”