alberta Miss Philippines® Earth : Beauties For A Cause

Miss Philippines Earth 2019 Delegates

Maricres Castro
Muntinlupa City
Flower: Chrysanthemum

Profession/Education: Online English Teacher
Height: 5 feet 6 inches
Measurements: 34 inches - 28 inches - 36 inches

Describe your childhood/growing up years (8-13 years old):
My childhood was overall very happy and full of love from a strong, Christ-centered family who committed their lives to service to God and God's people. I went to private Catholic and Christian schools all my life which focused on empowering me with the education I needed to make an impact on the world, and to use it to love and serve God’s people. I have always seen education as a means to making an impact on the world. My very active and faith-centered family would take me with them, even when I was a baby, to serve and participate in community service events. They would introduce me to leaders in our Filipino-American community, and from a young age, I would perform songs for them to entertain them at our house when we would have guests over. It is because of my family that I developed strong interpersonal skills and compassion for the poor. I was born in Seattle, Washington, to two pure Filipino parents. My mother is from Pampanga and my father is from Bicol and part of the Agta Tabangnon Tribe there. My parents met in Seattle, where Dad was a dentist who owned 2 dental clinics in Seattle, 1 in Tacoma and later on owned 1 in Manila. I would often spend my weekends with my Papa and Mom in the clinic, where I would watch my Papa perform oral surgery even at the young age of 5 years old. And my siblings and I would take naps in his dental chairs while he finished paperwork for his patients before we headed home. My first visit to the Philippines was when I was 10 years old. And we moved to Quezon City when I was almost 12 years old. I still remember when my family and I moved to Alabang in Muntinlupa from Quezon City, and I saw the big, rolling green hills here for the first time. They captivated me because they were so different from the cloistered and overwhelmingly concrete Quezon City we had lived in prior. That is why I love Muntinlupa City and Alabang so much in particular because of how green it is with their forests and lush parks that we have here for outdoor activities. I loved growing up surrounded by nature, because God's wonder was impressed upon me through it. We serve a mighty and miraculous God who has created so much and taking a moment to pause and admire it brings me a strong sense of serenity. In the end, that's why I pursued the sciences even from a young age to understand the majesty of God revealed in nature. Growing up, I would apply what I learned in science classes while gardening alongside my Grandmother Cresencia during our bonding time. I loved being in the garden cultivating the lives of little flowers from little seedling to watching them bloom in the coming months.

What lessons did you learn from your childhood/growing years?
My father always focused on teaching my siblings lessons on justice and compassion. One of those lessons was on the beauty and benefit of God's creations when we are good stewards of it. It’s really because of my family that I learned how to cultivate the earth with the same kindness and the respect we should show for one another and reverence for our good God who made it for us. That is why my father, even when he retired, was very active in our family's nonprofit to serve the poor and promoted sustainably. He spearheaded services that utilized both permagardaining, aquaponics and sustainable agricultural techniques to teach livelihood and nutritional programs to the mothers of the Agta Tabangnon Tribe. Watching him and my Mom and my Grandparents first open the first hospital of Pilar, Sorsogon, when I was around 13 years old and witnessing how God had worked through generations of our family to make a difference and volunteering alongside them on that opening day changed my life. It was a moment that solidified the teaching of how faith in Jesus, love of family, and trust in God's plan is what will lead to sustainable and intergenerational change to meet the needs of God's people and save our Mother Earth. My childhood has really primed me to understand that there is no greater joy than service of our Lord and His people. Because out of that hospital, the services my Papa started for nutritional, vocational, and livelihood training are still available and continue to impact so many lives. And they are what inspired me to join the US Peace Corps after I graduated from my BS Biology and minor in Environmental Science to teach those same techniques during my 2-year long service in the Southeast African country of Zambia as a Health Volunteer. I then served for 1 year as a Global Health Fellow doing the same thing my father did with a more evidence-based approach I learned in the US Peace Corps. Just as Saint Theresa of Calcutta once said “I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and saw that service is joy.”

Most memorable moment:
My most memorable moment was in Zambia when one of my best friends in our village walked 3km just to ask me to name her and her husband’s firstborn son. That was a kind of joy I had never experienced before because I had never been asked to name a baby! And it just goes to show how integrated I became in our village community in Africa, I love and miss them so much and all the lessons they taught me while I was working alongside them to tackle their country’s most pressing health issues and concerns surrounding HIV/AIDS, malaria, childhood nutrition through permagardening, and safe motherhood.

Why do you want to be Miss Philippines Earth 2019?
I want to inspire people to love more and to do more for God’s kingdom. If I become Miss Philippines Earth, I would have gained an international platform I could use to inspire the hearts and minds of our fellow kababayan to care for our Mother Earth and one another. Through this platform I hope to inspire our people to serve God in a way that protects future generations from pollution while promoting eco-friendly businesses. That is why I want to become Miss Philippines Earth, to reach more souls and inspire a greater environmental impact.

What is your environmental advocacy and why did you choose this?
My environmental advocacy is a focus on sustainability and sustainable business practices. Just like when I was in Africa and during my service as a Global Health Fellow in my family’s nonprofit here in the Philippines, I want to empower our people with the skills and inspire their hearts to find innovative and sustainable ways to practice business like creating biocharcoal from leftover coconut husks, composting techniques, sustainable agriculture techniques and aquaponics. These practical and sustainable skills are methods I want to teach to inspire the next generation of Philippine green leaders in protecting our Mother Earth in a way where both God’s creations are protected and the needs of God’s people are met.