By ISAAC LIRI
THIS was no ordinary beauty quest. First of all, there were no catwalks or showing off of fine clothes and special designs. It wasn’t even on dry land.
This was a contest that was all done underwater, with snorkels and scuba tanks, amongst the fish, anemones and coral.
Promoting environment conservation awareness through modelling and beauty is a new concept for local modelling agency, PNG Modelling Agency.
With various important world issues and great causes promoted through good looking men and women in the past, the idea behind Miss Scuba brings to the stage, or maybe the beach, something PNG has not seen before.
Six contestants competed in the quest early this month with 22 year old Agnelly Solien from Central winning the first ever Miss Scuba PNG title.
Agnelly was all smiles when crowned at the Gateway hotel in Port Moresby on Friday Oct 13.
“I am so humbled and honoured to be the first Miss Scuba. I love modelling and to come on top and become Miss Scuba PNG is a dream come true for me,” Solien said.
Finishing as first runner-up was 28 year old Michelle Suri while Salome Tibola from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville snatched the best diver award.
Solien is now preparing to travel to Malaysia next month to represent PNG at the Miss Scuba International where she hopes to make a mark against contestants from 13 countries from around the globe, accompanied by make-up artist Jemaimah Yai-Pupu.
Director of the PNG Modeling Agency Jemaema Koike was pleased with Solien’s achievement on winning the title and also commended the other five contestants for their dedication and effort.
Three contestants in the quest were Alumintha Kiwa, Arsinia Aryeanna and Cindy Tibola.
All competitors were judged after a four-day diving course facilitated by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, PADI. Contestants were rated according to their general knowledge on environmental issues, scuba diving ability, and beauty and make-up.
With the sole purpose of promoting environmental conservation awareness through modelling, the PNG Modelling Agency has plans to expand its awareness and the contest in the coming years.
PNG Modelling Agency is a model recruitment agency that not only focuses on talent scouting but aims at getting youths involved in important activities and awareness programs.
“PNGMA has signed an agreement with Miss Scuba International (Malaysia) to hold its national pageant here in the country,” Koike said of the just-ended contest in Port Moresby.
“Miss Scuba International is a fitting international pageant for Papua New Guinea and its participation.
“We belong to a country of beautiful marine habitat and we need to be aware of how to preserve the marine ecosystem and to promote our world class diving resorts such as Tufi Resort, Walindi, Rapopo, to name a few.
“We are getting young ladies involved to not only participate in world pageants, but also to be future advocates of this program and get information out to help protect our marine environment in PNG.”
“Miss Scuba promotes the tourism industry which is a sleeping giant in PNG, more tourists will come to PNG to dive in our hot spots,” Koike said.
With scuba diving being one of the main elements in the judging criteria, PADI-certified scuba diving instructor John Miller said their contribution to the course was to train the girls to dive which they started in a swimming pool and then graduated to the ocean.
“The idea is to judge the girls on scuba diving and environmental awareness, the slogan they’ve got is “conservation through beauty.”
“They’ve contacted me just to do the scuba diving instructions because we are Papua New Guinea’s biggest diving school.
“These girls have all been recruited locally, we’ve trained them to dive, the instruction we’ve given them is international recognized diving qualification, the PADI open water diver course which is one of the requirements.
“So they’re getting a broad education in scuba diving, tourism, environmental awareness, fashion, hair and make-up,” Miller said.
Miller described scuba diving as a sporting activity but added that it was also a main element of PNG’s tourism industry.
“PNG has got some of the best unspoilt reef environment in the world so we have thousands of people every year travel here internationally to come scuba dive in Papua New Guinea,” he said.
With the crowning done, the PNG Modelling Agency will now prepare Agnelly Solien for the Miss Scuba International contest which will be held in Malaysia next month.
Director of the PNG Modelling Agency Jemaema Koike said the winner was judged through a four-day diving course, through interviews which saw her confidence and team work prevail during the week.
“The crowd at the crowning night had already selected their winner, along with the judges-two representatives from PADI and one from the Dive Centre as one of the main judges,” she said.
The contest is expected to expand in the coming years to promote environmental awareness through modelling.
History of Miss Scuba International
The Miss Scuba International pageant was held for the very first time in 2011. There has been many a beauty pageant held in the past, many embracing great causes, however none yet have focused on our oceans. Life on Earth as we know it today began with our oceans. Thus, we decided that it is time that an event such as this is produced to celebrate, not only, the inner beauty and courage of today’s modern women, but also to simultaneously advocate worldwide marine conservation.
The Miss Scuba International Organization is founded by Robert Lo who is also the proprietor of the Sipadan Mabul Resort (SMART) and Mabul Water Bungalows, and as such is a strong believer in sustainable development within the realms of our marine environment. He hopes that by sharing the beauty and wonders of the underwater world via beauty queens, it will enable more people to understand how fragile our oceans are and how much more we all need to play our individual little roles to make a big difference in protecting it.
Additionally, we also aim to promote safe diving practices through worldwide professional training organizations, and elevate international tourism and cultural appreciation. As people travel to far off destinations to dive, they also learn to appreciate the cultural diversity that makes our world such an interesting tapestry. missscuba.com