Miss Tibet goes global!

An eyewitness account by Phil Void (Dharma Bums)

Winners of Miss Earth Pageant

Not even a day after Tsering Chungtak was crowned Miss Tibet 2006 in Dharamshala, India, capital of Tibet-in-exile, she was invited to participate in the Miss Earth Pageant, third largest beauty pageant in the world, in Manila, capital city of the Philippines.

Besides being the biggest show of its kind in Asia, Miss Earth was a beauty pageant with a twist, dubbing itself "Beauties for a Cause", the cause being to save the earth from the threat of environmental destruction. Such a "cause"-oriented programme seemed an ideal place for Tibetan concerns to be shared with the global community. With almost ninety countries participating, twelve young ladies were representing countries who were participating for the first time: Botswana, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Georgia, Guadeloupe, Ireland, Liberia, Lithuania, Republic of Congo, Sudan, Tibet, and Wales.

The inclusion of Wales, along with Miss England, was quite fortuitous, and made the obvious point! With the Miss Earth Pageant being devoted to bringing environmental concerns to the attention of the world, our new Miss Tibet faced an unprecedented opportunity to bring the concerns of the Tibetan people to the attention of an international environmental forum.

This year, the participants were focusing on the dangers of global warming. Serendipitously, a major article on global warming in Tibet appeared in the London Independent on November 17th, just as the initial phase of the pageant was getting into high gear: the young "beauties for a cause" were touring different areas of the Philippines renowned for their natural beauty, participating in a variety of environmental education projects while promoting the pageant.

The article warned that, according to no less an authority than the Chinese Academy of Sciences, global warming was dealing a "hammer blow to ice fields at some of the world's truly awesome mountain regions" in Tibet, resulting in a major threat to China's water supplies, among other forms of environmental devastation. It was not hard to find common ground among the participants, as global warming, left unchecked, would prove devastating to the entire world, and in this case, particularly to the peoples of China, Tibet, and India.

Miss Tibet's interactions with her fellow representatives on these global issues were unequivocally positive and constructive in nature. She was especially involved with her south Asian friends from India and Pakistan, but was also very close with her new friends from Tanzania and Nigeria! Despite the language barrier, Miss China and Miss Tibet became close friends. "Whenever we would meet, Miss China and I would hug each other and try to communicate by sign language! We were very friendly!" said Tsering Chungtak. "Many of the girls had never heard of Tibet before, or were unaware of the situation in Tibet. The environmental issues focused on at the pageant helped open their eyes about Tibet, giving them a knowledge that they would bring back to their home countries."

Although she did not make it into the ranks of the top sixteen contenders on the Coronation Night, Miss Tibet did reach the finals in the talent competition with her spirited Tibetan folk dance. "I didn't know what else to add, so I improvised with a Tibetan khata, pulling it out and dancing with it as an offering to the crowd! They seemed to like it!" The final talent competition was very close, with the prize going to Miss Tibet's friend Miss China for her amazing display of acrobatic ability! Before the ten finalists performed in the talent round in Marakina, "Cleanest City in the Philippines," the Mayor addressed the crowd, praising the efforts of the young "beauty queen" activists, and all eighty-two remaining representatives gave a brief environmental message. Miss Tibet, addressing the crowd, said, "Earth is our home. We must use our wisdom and understanding to protect it from ecological disasters!"

On Coronation Night, Miss Tibet and her friends, along with three Tibetans from Taiwan and myself, were all rooting for Miss India after she made it into the sixteen finalists, then the final eight, then the final four, and then — it was down to Miss India and Miss Chile! "We were all holding our breath, praying for Miss India to win!" Tsering recalled.

The two finalists held each other tight as the emcee prepared to make the announcement — Miss Earth 2006 was Miss Chile, Hil Yesenia Escobar! "Oh well, we were all happy for Miss Chile!" said Tsering. "And Miss India (Amruta Patki) got first runner-up, Miss Earth-Air. Not bad!"

"All the girls, we were like a big family. We all want to help stop global warming and save the environment. I think we can all do something to help the earth through our participation in the Miss Earth Pageant!"

As the first Miss Tibet to have successfully participated in one of the major international beauty pageants, Tsering Chungtak has a lot to be proud of. "I had a very good communication with all the girls, and hopefully they will bring what they learned about the environmental crisis in Tibet with them when they return to their homes around the world!" With eighty-two beautiful, intelligent young ladies returning to their home countries around the world with a determination to save the environment and stop global warming, Miss Tibet will have fulfilled her mission on behalf of the Tibetan people!

The Miss Earth Pageant 2006 was held from the 5th to the 26th of November 2006 in the Philippines. Tsering Chungtak is now back at Hindu College, Delhi, and would like to focus on her studies for the moment. — Ed

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