The 65th edition of Miss Universe had just made an official kick-off event on December 10, 2016. The Miss Universe Organization invited several delegates from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia. There is a total of 12 delegates who were invited to explore the islands of the Philippines along with Miss Universe 2015 Purtzbach. The host delegate, Miss Universe Philippines 2016 Maxine Medina showcased her hospitality as they visited selected areas of the Philippines to grace the event.

However, little that the candidates knew that there are opposition groups who are trying to generate public attention by protesting their activities in Oslob, Cebu. Environmentalists are now taking their protests on all mass media outlet to express their concerns regarding the impact of swimming with the whale sharks. This is because they believe that the Miss Universe delegates could bring negative consequences with regards to the living lifestyle of the whale sharks. Thus, environmentalists want Miss Universe delegates to avoid swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu.
65th edition of Miss Universe contestants in Oslob, Cebu for Whale Shark swimming experience
Whale shark is the largest marine species that roams oceans and open seas across the world. The average length of whale shark could reach up to 14 meters long or 42 feet long. Despite from their massive length and size, whale sharks are considerably harmless. The main reason is that they only feed on plankton, which is evident with the structure of their large mouth for filtering minute organisms in the sea.

Despite from the criticisms towards Miss Universe by various environmentalist groups, Miss Universe still vows to return to the area to further promote the tourism in the area. This is not only pertaining with the whale shark adventures but also with the exploration of other natural wonders in the area such as pristine beaches and experiencing various enchanted rivers. The Department of Tourism wants to maximize the full potential of every area across the Philippines, which is a part of its campaign to further bolster the country's tourism development. Promoting tourism is another reason for every spectator to have another reason not to regret saving money to acquire Miss Universe tickets. 

However, the critics against environmental activists are just wondering why they are only protesting now. The tourism in Oslob has been already ongoing for several years and no one from the past protested it. The environmentalists have then been accused of allegedly creating a selective protest in particular with the promotion of Miss Universe, which is simply aggravated by a political-related issue. Many believe that the protest is aligned with the opposition groups of Rodrigo Duterte who wants to destabilize Miss Universe promotion in the Philippines to satisfy their political and personal gains.

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5 Reasons why Environmentalists protests swimming with the Whale Sharks

1. Environmental preservation: This is an understandable statement wherein environmental conservationists wants to ensure that our environment should be always preserved. Environmentalists believe that when Miss Universe contestants could harm the environment due to the influx of mass media who always follow them in every place. Overcrowding will be a problem to any destination, which could harm the environment. Miss Universe is a highly anticipated event, which is why there is a large volume of visitors following them wherever they go.

2. Whale Sharks population is now classified in a "decreasing" status: The conservation status of whale sharks falls under the "decreasing" status. Which means that the population is now overly decreasing to an alarming rate. This is the reason why environmentalists want to stop the rapid decrease of whale shark population, prompting them to protest against the Miss Universe's style of promoting tourism through swimming with the whale sharks. Due to their meat value, poaching from all over the world that is now overharvesting whale sharks, which are responsible for their population decline.

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3. Politicking: This has been the alleged issue for accusing the environmentalist groups due to a selective protest to Miss Universe alone. Since the new Philippine administration is now governed by a leader from the island of Mindanao, the former dominating political party is believed to be behind the selective protest against the Miss Universe promotional tour in various parts of the Philippines. Politicking will remain as one of the major nuisances until Miss Universe will be concluded in January of 2017 when Pia Wurtzbach crown her successor.

4. The threat of pollution: Environmentalists are concerned about the issue of spreading pollutants to the area where whale sharks are currently seeking refuge. This is because every tourist carries disposable materials that they always either unintentionally or intentionally dump it in areas that are frequented by whale sharks. When these marine animals will ingest materials that are non-edible, it can negatively impact their health. Other marine animals will be also affected by the threat of pollution by the tourists.

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5. Destruction of the environment: Environmentalist groups are also concerned that natural habitats could be affected by the influx of tourists whenever Miss Universe will swim with the whale sharks. This is because it could change the cycle of the marine food chain. The chemicals of garbage produced by the tourists could easily cause a massive disruption with the primary producers of the food chain such as planktons and other minute organisms across the sea. When plankton population decreases, whale sharks will seek for another spot concentrated by the plankton population.

Oslob, Cebu is very aware on this environmental issues, which is why mandatory seminars are provided for all tourists visiting the natural whale shark sanctuaries. The local government units of Oslob in Cebu is also compliant with all environmental requirements, maintaining a competitive sanitary and health compliances, and ensuring that ecological preservation is always ensured. Many are just wondering why environmentalist groups are only protesting during the promotional season of Miss Universe and not from the previous months or even past years.

What do you think?

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