SHAFAQNA -Â Â A Filipino Muslim princess, who is a champion of indigenous peopleâ€™ rights, is vying for the Mrs. Universe crown for her work in philanthropy and human rights in Southeast Asia.
â€œThe problem is that the government canâ€™t develop these lands because there is no budget,â€ Jay Angelique Jaafar Wang, or Allie, told Inquirer.net on Tuesday, August 18.
â€œThe Indigenous Peopleâ€™s Rights Acts was created to protect them and the environment.
â€œMy vision is to put up a resource base economy, that is, to have a master plan for their lands which will include an industrial park, economic zone, school and agriculture.â€
Princess Allie was talking about the indigenous people and exploitation of ancestral lands in the Asian country.
The 45-year-old Allie is the United Nations Habitat permanent official representative for indigenous peoplesâ€™ issues.
She is also the current Mrs. Southeast Asia, a beauty queen title given to a married woman whose advocacy is violence against women and children.
Holding the title of dayang-dayang, which means princess of the Tausugs, Allie was chosen by MegaStar Productions to compete in Mrs. Universe, a global pageant and forum for women working in philanthropy and human rights.
Four years ago, the Muslim beauty queen was named successor of her uncle late Rep. Joseph Sibug and was given the title â€œGrand Baeâ€ of the Manobo tribe.
Meanwhile, the Muslim princess was elected president of the Philippine Organization of United Tribal Initiatives Inc.
During her daily visits to indigenous people, the Muslim princess discussed problems that face the Philippine tribal community, including education, poor nutrition and lack of medical facilities.
â€œDoles do not solve the problem. Education is needed to raise their dignity and improve their plight,â€ says Allie.
Though coming from a noble family, the Muslim princess grew up humbly in Tawi-Tawi with her grandmother and aunts were widows and her cousins fatherless.
Most of family men were victims of vendettas. Her father, Amir Bahar Haji Jaafar, was one of those victims.
â€œMy father was known as the Rambo of Zamboanga. He protected businessmen from kidnapping and extortion,â€ she says.
The mother of Toni Jaafar Hipolito, Miss Globe International 2015, has earned a degree in double major studies in Nursing at Dr. Carlos Lanting College and Tourism at La Consolacion College.
Mindanao, the birthplace of Islam in the Philippines, is home to more than 5 million Muslims.
Muslims make up nearly 8 percent of the total populace in the Philippines, which Islam reached in the 13th century about 200 years before Christianity.