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Miss Earth-Cuba says no sexual harassment happened during pageant; Miss Earth-Tonga replies

  • Miss Earth-Cuba Monica Aguilar discredited candidates who experienced sexual harassment.
  • She insisted that there was no sexual harassment that happened during the pageant.
  • Miss Earth-Tonga Maria Aholelei told her that other girls have different encounters and that she should be mindful of the other girls and their pain. 

Miss Earth-Cuba Monica Aguilar recently posted a photo on Instagram, explaining her views on the sexual harassment that happened during the said pageant. She, however, discredited the experiences and trauma that the other girls experienced. In response, Miss Earth-Tonga Maria Aholelei told her that she should be mindful of the other girls and their pain.

(L-R) Miss Earth-England Abbey Anne Gyles-Brown, Miss Earth-Canada Jaime Yvonne Vandeberg and Miss Earth-Guam Emma Mae Sheedy

Candidates experience sexual harassment.

The reports started when Miss Earth-Canada Jaime Yvonne Vandenberg, Miss Earth-England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown and Miss Earth-Guam Emma Mae Sheedy publicly shared their experiences on being sexually harassed by a pageant sponsor named Amado S. Cruz.

Vandeberg eventually left the competition as she no longer felt safe under the organization’s care. Gyles-Brown attested to the harassment that she and other girls experienced. Sheedy, on the other hand, named their harasser in her public statement.

View this post on Instagram

I left to compete at an international pageant in the Philippines about a month ago. I was so excited because I had been to the Philippines before and loved the country and the people; however, the experience with the pageant was not what I had expected. I left Miss Earth because I did not feel safe under their care. The second day of the pageant I felt uncomfortable because a sponsor from the first night was given my phone number, without my consent, and was calling me asking for my hotel and room number. I gave my phone to a team manager so that she could resolve the issue, but it did not work. He showed up to almost all of my events telling me he could take care of my needs and asked for sexual favours in exchange to get me further in the pageant. I was disgusted. He showed up to a hotel some girls were staying at and when I ran into him he continued to ask for my room number. I was lucky I wasn’t staying at that hotel. After so many strange calls, I recognized his phone number and was able to block it. At an event at the Manila Yacht Club he took all of the delegates in my group to his yacht and had some girls take sultry photos. Again, I was disgusted. Later in the pageant we had another sponsor event at the Manila Yacht Club and he was telling girls he could take them to Boracay, as long as we didn’t tell any one. A group of us left to sit out side as we did not feel comfortable. He followed us outside and was upset we were not dancing with him. The team mangers laughed and told us to be nice. Eventually we were allowed to go and sit on the bus because we refused to go back to his yacht. Six girls and myself left because we felt unsafe at that event. I asked many times why more girls weren’t given the option to leave but, was never given an answer. That night a few of us were given the opportunity to bring our concerns to Miss Lorraine, the woman in charge of the pageant. I went through almost two weeks of sexual harassment before I anything was done about it. I was told he would not be around any more, but I had advised Lorraine of several other issues that were not resolved. Miss Peachy, another employee of the pageant, spoke with me at an event about…

A post shared by Jaime VandenBerg (@missjaimeyvonne) on

Aguilar says no sexual harassment happened.

Monica insisted that there was no sexual harassment that happened during the pageant.

“I have read the testimonies of several candidates complaining about supposed sexual harassment. I can confirm there was no sexual harassment happening in any shape or form. Yes, some of the sponsors did ask us if we wanted to go to Boracay after the pageant. But no one promised to get us further in the competition through “sexual favors.””

“I don’t think an invitation to Boracay is sexual harassment! All you can do is say no thank you and move on with your life! No matter where you go in life, these type of things happen but it is your responsibility to say no and walk away. After I said no thank you to the Boracay trip, the sponsor never bothered me again!”

View this post on Instagram

My personal encounter @missearth. • It’s time to speak up about my personal experience. I have been in close contact with my national director and all incidents have been noted. I have worked very hard for my title of Miss Earth England and as I have previously mentioned I took 4 years to get to the top and win my place at the Internationals. I was elated to finally represent England over in the beautiful Philippines. My trip was a rollercoaster of emotions, stress and endurance and I did not leave the pageant as I was not going to miss out on the experience. I have many beautiful memories of my time here in the Philippines and many wonderful days. I met happy Filipinos who showed me such kindness and respect. I enjoyed 50% of my trip but the other 50% was over shadowed by feeling exploited, vulnerable, unnerved & sexually harassed as I was approached by a sponsor on many occasions who asked for sexual favours in exchange for the Crown. This happened at Manila Yacht Club on a sponsored evening meal away from the team managers behind closed doors. The sponsor also tried to find out what hotel and room I was staying in. Myself and Canada approached Team Manager to express our disgust only to be laughed at. Another official attendee of the night told me not to cry as I would ruin my makeup! There was no respect or compassion shown to myself or Jaimie. I felt traumatised by this experience and had many sleepless nights. I was not sure who had my personal details including my mob number and hotel room. It was not only myself and Canada who were approached on this night but other delegates who I believe are going to come forward and tell their side of the story. I approached Lorraine Schuck who is the Vice President Of Miss Earth she informed me that the sponsor would be removed from all contact with contestants but this did not happen. As other groups experienced the same issue. Myself and @missjaimeyvonne removed ourselves from this uncomfortable environment and sat on the bus away from further exploitation. This is one of many incidents we faced during our Miss Earth Journey! The said sponsor in fact show up at a prelim event and also attended the Coronation night

A post shared by Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown (@abbey.gyles) on

Aguilar further discredited the trauma that the other girls experienced on her Instagram post.

“This is not something that the team managers should be blamed for. I felt extremely safe this entire month under the care of our team managers. They counted our heads before we went on the buses, at the venue and before we got off the buses. They even made sure we had police escorts to go to the bathroom!”

“As for the passports being confiscated, I am very grateful for this! We had a total of 4 flights arounf the Philippines, and it was extremely hectic trying to get luggages ready for every out of town trip. I think it was very smart and handy if the team managers keeping our passports for easier and smoother flight check-ins.”

Monica continued to insist that sexual harassment did not happen during any event of the pageant.

“In conclusion, sexual harassment was not present in any shape or form, and the team managers did an outstanding job at keeping us safe. The Miss Earth Organization, especially Peach and Lorraine have done everything in their power to keep us safe and I think the world, or the Earth rather, needs to know what really went on!”

Aholelei backs up other candidates.

Maria left a comment on Monica’s post. She pointed out that other girls have different experiences. She continued to support Jaime Yvonne for speaking up about her encounter. Aholelei, then, told Aguilar that she should be mindful of the other girls and their pain.

“just because you didn’t experience it doesn’t mean that the sexual harassment didn’t happen. Re think before you speak because other girls are in different positions throughout the competition. I was one of the candidates this year representing my country and I can says this statement of yours has its rights and wrongs. I’m 100% backing up @missjaimeyvonne and the other girls as there are more of them finally speaking up about the experience. If you didn’t encounter any harassments then please be mindful of the other girls and their pain.”

Miss Earth Organization has yet to speak up about the said issue.


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