Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Nothing beats home for Jamie Herrell

Vanessa Balbuena - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Learning at the last minute that her flight for Cebu had been rebooked for an earlier schedule, Jamie Herrell said she “packed for 20 minutes, threw everything in my bag, and just came home.”

The 20-year-old has had a euphoric time the past weeks after her November 29 coronation as Miss Earth 2014 where she shot to the top among 83 other contenders. This Christmas break, there’s nothing Jamie yearns for, but to bask in the company of family and friends in her hometown of Cebu, particularly in Lapu-Lapu City where she resides.

“I miss my family and friends. I miss going to a coffee shop and just enjoy. While I can do that in Manila, nothing beats home,” says the beauty queen .

Jamie arrived here Wednesday night, and jumped right into courtesy calls, press interviews and other activities.

Asked how Christmas is usually like in the Herrell household, Jamie immediately grabbed her phone to show interviewers a video of her swirling and flipping her hair while introducing to the camera her mother Snowy’s Christmas Village arrangement at home.

“My mom always has this Christmas Village that’s really famous. Everyone loves to just go there and take a picture of it. Our Christmas is always warm, homey and a tad crazy,” shares the California-born Jamie, who was clad in a bright pink dress during yesterday’s press conference at Maxwell Hotel’s Ola Resto Bar.

Señor Santo Niño devotee

While winning the crown means her schedule is chock-full of activities and less of personal time, Jamie says she’s having the time of her life. She’s particularly looking forward to her planned trips abroad – part of her official duties as Miss Earth – to spread environmental awarenesss. Some of the first few destinations mentioned to her are Finland, Egypt and Guam.

“Being Miss Earth is not just about the publicity. It’s also work. We’re here not just to look pretty, but we’re here to help spread environmental awareness. We are not environmentalists, though. I can honestly say that. If you ask us super scientific questions about the environment, we definitely cannot answer. But, we want to be the voice of the people and communicate to others how important it is to have a healthy environment for a better community,” she remarks.

The travels will hopefully start by February; she’s determined on keeping her January vacant so she can join the Sinulog 2015 celebrations whether as a special performer or as a regular Señor Sto. Niño devotee.

Before her rise in the pageant scene, Jamie had performed with the Sandiego Dance Company during Sinulog 2012, and won the Sinulog Festival Queen in 2013.

No bitter candidates

Refuting talk that some Miss Earth 2014 candidates weren’t happy to see the host delegate win, Jamie explains that what was seen on camera (of the girls not immediately swarming her to say their congratulations) was not the entire story.

“One thing I love about most girls in the pageant was…they are all beauty queens in their own countries, and they know they’re beautiful and everyone worked hard,” she explains. “So at the end of the day, it’s really meant for who is destined to become Miss Earth. Most of them were not bitter. They were happy either way because they got to explore the Philippines. They actually did say ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines.’”

Jamie also gave her shout-out of thanks to everyone who lent a hand in her Miss Earth journey – one of them being fellow Cebuana and Miss Earth 2008 title-holder Karla Paula Henry.

“I love Karla Henry! In fact, she’s helped me so much and even the other contestants, starting from Miss Philippines Earth and even after I was crowned Miss Earth. She tells us what it is like to be a beauty queen and what it is like to be Miss Earth. She taught me what to expect during the pageant, what to expect in case I win…and even how to pack my clothes. She’s been so supportive all throughout, and I absolutely owe her a lot.”

The same message of gratitude is what she wants to reach her many supporters: “Thank you to all the Cebuanos who prayed and supported me in my whole Miss Earth pageant journey. It’s a really great honor to represent the whole Cebu province. With the support and love you have given me, it has given me the dream that I’ve been wishing for two years. This shows that dreams do really happen, and I owe it all to you, and also to Señor Sto. Niño,” says Jamie.

Eyes on the target

Miss Earth was a goal that Jamie targeted after learning of the pageant’s worthwhile cause. For her, it was Miss Earth or bust.

She shares, “Each beauty pageant has its own advocacy, and for me, I’ve always done charity work with kids. It made me think to do something new, like environmental activities. When I found out what Miss Earth was all about, I told myself I wanted to be Miss Earth someday. I was so happy that my mom and handlers supported me all throughout this dream. They never forced me to join another pageant.”

Was there a Plan B had she failed in her Miss Philippines Earth bid? “I think would have joined Miss Philippines Earth again. And I think that would still have been my Plan C, Plan D…I believe it’s beautiful that if you focus your mindset into one thing, then it will happen. Just like MJ Lastimosa. She’s been dreaming so much to become Miss Universe. To see how much she strived during Binibini just to get the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe crown – it’s a beautiful example of not giving up on one’s dream. When I found out how much she wanted it, it actually made me cry.”

The beauty queen is still pursuing her Think Twice campaign, which is an environmental advocacy she started with her Miss Philippines Earth court. “We tell people through talks how to lessen our carbon footprints by finding alternatives in our daily lives. It’s as simple as turning on lights that aren’t needed to save electricity. I’m excited to sit down with my Miss Earth elemental court to think up of an advocacy that will be known worldwide.”

For her Miss Earth project, Jamie is set to sit down with her three other elemental queens so can plot out an advocacy that can be adapted worldwide.

Aspiring actress

Of her acting plans, Jamie says there are showbiz offers which she can’t divulge yet.

The beauty queen had taken up Mass Communications at the University of San Jose-Recoletos before accepting an acting scholarship at the International Academy of Film and Television in Mactan. “After my reign, I’m definitely going back to school, and I’ll see where I’ll go from there,” she says.

Adding that she’s not a big fan of the dramatic genre as she finds it difficult to cry on command, Jamie would rather welcome a role in a comedy or action project.

Acting was an interest she nurtured back when she still lived in the United States, she recounts. “I used to play Jasmine, but I don’t know how to sing, so I just lip-synched on stage. I also played Belle before, and Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady. Acting is just beautiful. You can switch on and off, When you learn a role, it makes you feel like you’re also learning something new – like a different culture, different emotions. That’s the beauty of acting.”

To the many aspiring beauty queens who wish to duplicate her feat, Jamie advises: “Always believe in your dreams and focus on that one thing you really want. I believe in the Law of Attraction. When you have positive vibes, you attract positive vibes. If keep on training and working hard for what you want, anything is possible. As Audrey Hepburn said, the word ‘impossible’ can also mean ‘I am possible.’”




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