Miss Earth international candidates have come forward to complain about the sexual harassment they experienced during a pageant held in the country.
Instagram/Jaime VandenBerg of Canada, Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown of England, and Emma Sheedy of Guam
#MeToo: Miss Earth 2018 bets accuse Filipino sponsor of harassment; organizer denies claims
Rosette Adel (philstar.com) - November 8, 2018 - 9:21pm

MANILA, Philippines—At least three candidates of this year’s Miss Earth International pageant have spoken against the sexual harassment they allegedly experienced in the Philippines throughout the competition.

In separate lengthy social media posts, Miss Earth bets Jaime VandenBerg of Canada, Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown of England, and  Emma Sheedy of Guam claimed they were sexually harassed by one of the Filipino sponsors of the pageant during a dinner at the Manila Yacht Club.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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

The complainants added hashtag #MeToo in their posts. #Metoo is a campaign originated by writer and activist Tarana Burke in 2007 for women to share their rape, sexual assault and harassment stories across social media. 

READ: ‘Weinstein effect’ reaches Philippines, artists accused of sexual misconduct

Sexual favors in exchange of crown

All three beauties claimed one of the male sponsors asked them for sexual favors in exchange for the crown or for getting further in the pageant. 

VandenBerg, Miss Canada, also said her number was given to the unnamed sponsor without her consent. She alleged the sponsor also asked for her hotel and room number.

“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,” Miss England Gyles-Brown said.

“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,” Vandenberg also said.

Some of them also said they were invited to Boracay and a private island in exchange for sexual favors and a dance.

Miss Canada and England did not name the sponsor but Sheedy, Miss Guam, said the sponsor was an Amado S. Cruz.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My side of the Miss Earth International Experience: - After a year and a half of preparation for my first beauty pageant; the Miss Earth pageant, I was excited to travel back to the Philippines for the 6th time. The hospitality of the Filipinos is not found anywhere else. The Philippines is like a second home to me. I joined the pageant to make a difference and be a role model to those around me. I enjoyed a majority of the pageant, but what I did not know, is that a specific sponsor from the Manila Yacht Club would change the way I see pageantry and sponsors. The sponsor who’s name is Amado S. Cruz became a problem for many of the delegates, including myself. To focus on ONLY myself, I was pulled aside multiple times to be invited to Boracay, private islands and into his house and insisted that I and “the latino women dance for him.” Amado S. Cruz grabbed my bare backside at the National Costume Competition where I was able to push him away, but he consistently told me not to tell anyone about any of the instances. At the Manila Yacht Club, Amado S. Cruz ensured that the team managers and security personnel were separated in another room, this is where he made many girls uncomfortable. A groups of us left the room because we felt uncomfortable, but Amado S. Cruz followed us and insisted that we stayed inside to dance with him. We asked our team managers to bring us to the busses, which took over 20 minutes for them finally to do. Later on that night @missjaimeyvonne and @Miss.Earth.England spoke on the phone with Lorraine Schuck, the Vice President of Miss Earth, who assured them that Amado S. Cruz would not be at any other event. From the moment the pageant started until coronation night, Amado S. Cruz was at every event and dinner he could physically get to. Since other delegates have posted, multiple other queens from past years have come out about the same behavior. I want to help put a stop to this sponsor being apart of the Miss Earth International Pageant because he has become a problem for years. #missearth2018 #missearth #MeToo @missearth

A post shared by Emma Mae (@erma101) on

“The sponsor who’s name is Amado S. Cruz became a problem for many of the delegates, including myself,” Sheedy said.

Miss Guam alleged Cruz made sure that the team manager and security personnel were separated in other room so he can make his advances.

The Miss Earth beauties said other candidates also felt uncomfortable in the presence of Cruz.

Due to this, the candidates said they tried to address the issue by informing the team manager of Cruz’s behavior. However, Miss England said they were only laughed at.

“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,” Gyles-Brown said.

 “I felt traumatized by this experience and had many sleepless nights,” she added.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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?????????? (@miss.earth.england) on

They then spoke to Miss Earth Vice President Lorraine Shuck and complained about the sexual harassment.

Shuck, who works for Carousel Productions, Inc, the organization running Miss Earth and Miss Philippines Earth beauty contest, assured them that Cruz would not be attending any other event.

The candidates however said Cruz still went to the preliminary event and even the coronation night.

“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,” Gyles –Brown said.

The English and American beauties said other delegates will still come forward to retell their experience.

“Since other delegates have posted, multiple other queens from past years have come out about the same behavior. I want to help put a stop to this sponsor being apart of the Miss Earth International Pageant because he has become a problem for years,” Miss Guam said.

In her Instagram story, Miss Northern Ireland Christie Van Schawlkwyk expressed support to her co-delegates who have broken their silence regarding the supposed sexual harassment.

'There is no sexual harassment'

In a television report, Shuck said she collected the testimonies on the supposed sexual harassment incident for review. She denied the allegations and said the candidates were given security.

Meanwhile, Miss Cuba Monica Aguilar countered the claims of Miss Canada, England and Guam and said there was no sexual harassment during the course of the pageant. She said she wanted to stop the posts being made against the Miss Earth Organization.

“I have read the 'testimonies' of several candidates complaining about supposed sexual harassment. I can confirm there was no sexual harrasment happening in any shape of form,” Aguilar wrote on one of her Instagram posts.

"Yes, some sponsors did ask us if we wanted to extend our visas to go to Boracay after the pageant, but no one was promised to get us further in the competition through 'sexual favors,” she added.

Aguilar said she felt safe, citing that they were even given police escorts even during bathroom breaks.

For standing up for Miss Earth Organization, the pageant’s official Instagram account left a comment on Aguilar's post and praised her for "handling the situation like a true queen."

Miss Earth 2018 concluded the pageant and held the coronation night on Sunday. Vietnam's Phuong Khanh Nguyen won the ultimate Miss Earth 2018.

READ: Karen Ibasco hands over Vietnam's first Miss Earth crown

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