Miss Universe 2013, Gabriela Isler, visited Coron last Thursday, a region in the Philippines that was hit hard by typhoon Haiyan six years ago.
Gabriela Isler during her visit of the disaster-struck village of Malawig in the Philippines. Photo: Juan Miguel Torres
The Venezuela-born TV host, fashion model and beauty queen visited Coron for the first time in March 2014, during a fundraising campaign for the victims of Haiyan.
While she witnessed the enormous devastation in the area, the warm welcome she received from locals motivated her to do everything in her power to help the affected community.
Miss Universe Relief Foundation
“That first visit to Coron helped me appreciate, transform and realize my role in helping others through charity”, says Isler, who became Miss Universe in November 2013, just a few days after Haiyan wreaked havoc in the Philippines. Shortly after her crowning, she founded the Miss Universe Relief Foundation, which raised a total of 250,000 US dollars to support Cordaid’s relief efforts in the region.
This January, Isler returned to Coron to meet the people of Malawig, a coastal town and isolated community, and to find out about their progress and recovery. There she learned that Cordaid works closely together with the villagers to tackle climate-related and environmental risks and the impact on their livelihoods.
One of the poignant issues: the entire community is dependant on fishing and an increase in storms means fewer days out on the water. Also, there was no water available in the village, only in the surrounding springs. But those were running dry during the long hot months of the dry season, which lasted much longer than normal.
With the support from Isler’s foundation, Cordaid has helped improve water and environmental management, by piping spring water to tap stands throughout the village and by protecting the springs, among many other activities.
For the women in Malawig Cordaid has developed alternative livelihoods. Thanks to this project the women can generate an income by weaving baskets and bags.
Miss Universe herself has also mastered the technique of weaving with pandan. Furthermore, she met village leaders and spoke to them about their ambitions for better environmental management. Before she left the village, Isler planted some trees along the coastline, which – when fully grown – will protect the area from the waves and high tide.
Isler has shared her appreciation for Cordaid’s work with local staff and has expressed her gratitude for another warm welcome to Coron. Cordaid is very grateful for the support from the Miss Universe Foundation, for both disaster recovery and resilience strengthening for poor and marginalized communities in the Philippines.