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Miss Earth Northern Marianas 2020

NORTHERN MARIANAS
MARIA LAEL TERLAJE

Age: 19
Height: 168 cm
Measurements: 33 in - 28 in - 35 in

"At a young age, I was a very shy girl. My reserved personality caused my mom to push me to participate in theater, school competitions, dance school and the more extreme Taekwondo. The art of Taekwondo was the opportunity that allowed me to grow strong, physically and in spirit. I was able to let go of my reservations and express my emotions through this form. It became my new passion and filled me with happiness. The most memorable moment was the unexpected rise, quickly to a junior black belt, jumping ranks as I excelled along the way, gaining the values of respect, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and an indomitable spirit, but the most significant change and gain was the confidence and the self-esteem I so needed."

DESCRIBE YOUR CHILDHOOD/GROWING YEARS
My childhood years are filled with love and encouragement from family, friends, teachers, and the community. From paddle boarding our ocean’s waves, spending quality time with family, baking goodies with grandma, being an altar server at our church, playing sports, starring in multiple theater plays including renditions of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King”, to attending many school functions to promote culture, campaign and fight against drug abuse, and doing beach clean ups. Those years are an important chapter in my life, full of fond memories and experiences that mold me to who I am today.

WHAT IS YOUR MEMORABLE MOMENT?
During my pilgrimage to Italy, I got to stand 5 feet away from Pope Francis. I traveled to Rome not knowing how blessed I was going to be, as I was so close to a powerful and inspirational figure. I was fortunate enough to see the Pope again, the following day, as he proclaimed the Gospel through his apartment window. Pope Francis sets an example of the greatest form of love and leads up to spread goodness to our people.

ANY SPECIAL STORIES OR FACTS ABOUT YOUR FAMILY?
A special family story is of my grandmother who is very dear to me. She was sadly pronounced dead at the age of 10 after contracting the measles in 1960. She miraculously regained a heartbeat 14 minutes later and is believed to be a miracle of a deceased Mercedarian Missionary who arrived on our island during World War II to help the people of the Marianas and appeared in her dream during the minutes she was pronounced deceased. because my mother was wearing her relic on her hospital gown. My grandmother is 71 years old today, a normal and healthy person contrary to the doctors predictions that she would live the rest of her life in a vegetative state.

WHAT IS THE MOST UNUSUAL THING YOU HAVE EVER DONE?
Swim with dolphins. The ocean that surrounds my islands is filled with an abundance of beautiful creatures. You are called lucky to find joyful, playful dolphins who interact with you and your boat.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVOCACY?
Spreading Acts of Love. I believe that choosing love is the basis of giving respect to all things, especially the environment. I advocate love and respect for our planet by restoring humility to our people and implementing preservation and conservation to protect our environment.

WHAT TIPS CAN YOU SHARE TO PROMOTE ECOTOURISM & CLIMATE CHANGE?
Businesses must care and work towards becoming more environmentally friendly when catering to visitors. Small changes and actions can be eliminating plastic straws and bottles, knowing their vendors and entertainment/tour operators and how they operate, and promoting the protection of our natural resources and environment to name a few. The fragile and natural conditions must be preserved and the tourism industry must respect and only allow subtle activities that affect and alter the environment as little as possible. To combat climate change, we need to take actions to reduce human factors that contribute to climate change. I would encourage businesses to go green, encourage renewable energy especially since we have a lot of sunlight and heat, improve our waste management, encourage reduction in use of air conditioners, gas vehicles, and work with the government to promote clean energy and plastic use reduction.

WHAT MAKES YOU PROUD OF YOUR COUNTRY?
The Northern Mariana Islands consist of 14 beautiful and preserved tropical islands. The Marianas has the deepest trench in the world. We are rich with World War II history, nature and culture. Our clear blue waters and white sand beaches reflect the beauty our people have to offer. The people resemble resilience, passion, and prosper through the love we have for one another, respect for elders, and the compassion we have for our whole community.

WHAT CAN YOU PROMOTE ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY?
The beautiful and many preserved islands, the richness in history and nature, its beautiful tropical beaches and blue waters and the friendly people and its culture. You will fall in love with its charm.

WHAT TRIVIA ABOUT YOURSELF WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE?
I love listening to inspiring music in my car while I sing loudly to the lyrics--from worship to reggae music.

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