Claret crowned Miss Marshall Is.

New Miss Marshall Islands Claret Chong Gum, center, with first runner up Miss Likiep Carnie Reimers, right, and second runner up Miss Wotje Ramona Obeketang at Saturday’s coronation ceremony in Majuro. Photo: Wilmer Joel.

WILMER JOEL

Miss Jaluit Claret Chong Gum of the Rikpikareej clan was crowned the new Miss Marshall Islands by former MMI Billma Peter last Saturday at a packed event in ICC that was viewed by thousands.

In addition to the crown she also attained multiple awards including the People’s Choice award, Miss Peran (courage), and Miss Iokwe (modesty).

The MMI Grand Coronation, the pageant’s culmination, showcased creative designs, tapestry, textiles, and fashion woven together with traditional and western styles.

As each of the 20 contestants got on stage with their attires, each was uniquely distinct with a particular meaning behind their qualities.

The coronation kicked off with an exuberant opening number composed by Solomon “Solé” Jibas, Kenny Glanry, and Laddik in Alwal Band “Miss Marshall Islands” accompanied with a dancing performance by Billma and the contestants. Hosting the event was Barab Edwards and Andrea Muller.

The five-hour program intensified in suspense and interest as the search for the new Miss Aelon Kein drew closer and closer. This was a significant task for judges Lita Flood, Randon Jack, Junior Paul, Deborah Shoniber, and Lena Tiobech who tossed question after question to the MMI contestants.
Numerous awards were announced as Saturday’s coronation proceeded. These included:
Talent:

• Best in Talent: Likiep Carnie Reimers
• 1st runner-up: Namo Theda Bresh
• 2nd runner-up: Jaluit Claret Chong Gum
Traditional wear:
• Best in Traditional wear: Likiep Carnie Reimers
• 1st runner-up: Aur Christina Kaious
• 2nd runner-up: Jaluit Claret Chong Gum
Designer for traditional wear:
• Best designer for traditional wear: Likiep’s designer Gloria Lorica deBrum
• 1st runner-up: Aur’s designers Lorraine Kramer and Peggy Trevor
Best Float:
• Best Float: Wotje Ramona Obeketang
• 1st runner up: Lae Lyneovy Jatios
• 2nd runner up: Ailuk Leiani Andrike
Additional awards:
• Miss Meanwod (personality): Ellep Alexis Jacob
• Miss Ettondikdik (photogenic): Mejit Ruhiyyih Aho
• Best in island evening wear: Likiep Carnie Reimers

After the elimination of 17 contestants, it boiled down to the last three from Wotje, Likiep, and Jaluit. Emotions were running high and the room was almost silent. The last question asked to the top three contestants was “What three qualities do you think a leader should possess and why?” Here are their responses.

• Wotje: “Be Humble, help others, and always listen to them because I know it will build others.”
•Likiep: “Be Humble, be proud of who they are, know how to communicate with others, and lift other people up.”
•Jaluit: “Integrity, honesty, and loyalty. These qualities are important as a person but most importantly as a woman.”

When the winner was announced the crowd erupted with cheers, applause, and standing ovation for Miss Jaluit. Coming in as the runners up were (1st) Likiep’s Carnie and (2nd) Wotje’s Ramona.

“I believe the crown is in great hands,” said outgoing MMI Billma Peter to the Journal. “I am so excited to see what she has to bring to the table. I am proud of all 20 of the girls and I can’t wait to see what this generation brings next.”

The newly crowned MMI Claret Chong Gum told the Journal that she felt grateful for the support she has gotten, especially from her families and the Miss Jaluit committee. “I am ready to serve every Marshallese, ” she said. “I am ready to spread our knowledge and skills, especially to put the Marshall Islands on the map. I am ready to get to work.”

Miss Likiep who was also filled with gratitude added that she wants to continue to promote our islands. “To make sure in the future we have a future,” she said.

“I want to say to the girls that they are valuable and they can do anything,” said MMI second runner up Miss Wotje. “They can be the future leaders of this country, especially to our culture.” She advises the younger generation and future MMI contestants to prioritize education.

“Beautiful” was the word host Barab Edwards described to the Journal about the event. “It was the showcase of our culture and people. I think the young ladies represented (their islands) very well with grace, poise, and courage. To be an emcee is such an honor and privilege, and I am glad to be part of it.” He pointed that he likes to see the pageant grow more than what it is today. “One thing I love about the Miss Marshall Islands pageant is the level of maturity,” he said. “It is very difficult to find these kinds of individuals especially when they’re young and want to (present) themselves to the public.”

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