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NMC's Leisha Deleon Guerrero is Miss Earth Northern Marianas. (June 24, 2019)

NORTHERN Marianas College sophomore Leisha Deleon Guerrero was crowned as the first Miss Earth Northern Marianas in the Hyatt Regency Saipan Ballroom on Saturday evening.

Deleon Guerrero, 19, will represent the CNMI in the Miss Earth international pageant in November.

First runner-up Pheona David was crowned Miss Earth Air; second runner-up Jan Zowie Cruz is Miss Earth Water; and third runner-up Katherine Johnson is Miss Earth Fire.

In an interview, Deleon Guerrero said her Miss Earth journey was a learning opportunity for her, especially about the environment.

“I would like to fight for the sustainability of the Marianas and as well as advocating for the concerns regarding the military buildup plans in the CNMI,” Deleon Guerrero said.

In 2018, Deleon Guerrero was second runner up in the Miss Marianas pageant.

For those who aspire to be a beauty queen, Deleon Guerrero has this advice: “Never stop believing in your dreams. Always push for your dream no matter what it is. There may be failures, but in the end, it is all worth it.”

In the final question and answer portion of the Miss Earth pageant, the top four contestants were asked what they would do, as a beauty queen, to make the Marianas a better place to live in.

Deleon Guerrero said, “With or without the crown, I would like to talk to the leaders of the CNMI to implement stricter rules, teach the children the preservation of our island and teach the tourists how to respect our land. Hand in hand, we can make a difference and improve the standard of our living.”

David said she would like to implement more educational programs regarding the environment. “All the things that we are facing — from climate change to rising sea level, to ocean acidification…. It is very important that we stress these issues to our youth so that in the future they can become environmental leaders of the CNMI.”

Cruz said she would empower the future generation through education. “They [the youth] are the core of our future and they will continue our legacy and make our environment a better place.”

Johnson said, “We have a responsibility to protect and preserve species and their natural habitats. As a beauty queen, I would have a platform from where I could speak out to make people aware of the problems that we face in the CNMI — pollution, the need for recycling and waste management.”

The other candidates were Nicole Malakai, Joanna Marie Navarro, Mary Joyce Masongsong and Jessme Jones.

Aside from the Miss Earth Northern Marianas crown and title, Leisha Deleon Guerrero was also named People’s Choice Earth Warrior, Best in Native Costume, Best in Swimsuit and Best in Evening Gown.

Mary Joyce Masongsong was named Miss Earth Exquisite Star and Miss Earth Friendship, Phoena David was Miss Earth Environmental while the Miss Earth Photogenic award went to Jan Zowie Cruz.

The pageant judges were Priscilla Maratita Iakopo, Marianas Visitors Authority managing director; Frank B. Santos, who holds the franchise for Miss Earth on Guam; Lita McDaniel Duenas, executive director and pageant coach for Miss Earth Guam; Sarah Filush Camacho, 2012 Miss Earth Guam and named Most Friendly in the 2012 Miss Earth international pageant in the Philippines; and Olivia Srue Tebeteb Tenorio, 2003 Miss Northern Marianas South Pacific.

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