The Story of My Fascination in Beauty Pageants

When I was still a kid, I grew up being an insecure child since I was chubby. Aside from that, during those days, I am taller than kids with similar age of mine. I love to play Filipino games together with my cousins and friends (which is sadly slowly fading away at present due to the computer age) such as tsinelas lata, patintero, tagu-tagu-an, bulan-bulan, langit lupa, and a many more. At times, I hesitate to play because of my mature physique. I was a fat kid since I love to eat and splurge food, just to mention, chicken skin, hotdogs, ensaymada, desserts, and the like. My fattest self was during my 6th grade, at 5’3” where I weighed almost 150 pounds. I was overweight during that time. My self-esteem went down because of the harsh words that were thrown from my parent’s friends and even to my close circle of family. For some children, they don’t take it seriously. Yet, for me, I took it seriously because I have a different personality than them. That’s why maybe right now, I am a serious person. However, I also have a funny and bright side, if you just know how to dig deep into my core. Anyway, those bullying that I experienced were painful. Yet, it became a motivation for me to be my best self.

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My fat self during my grade school days

After my grade school graduation in 2012, I eventually took steps to be at my best shape. I read magazines and books regarding proper nutrition, physical fitness, and wellness. Then, I exercised and only ate nutritious foods. It was truly a discipline since it was, at first, hard to control my usual appetite. Eventually, people started to notice my trimmed physique. I began to look leaner and taller. People would say that I should become a model or a beauty queen because of my height. But then, I didn’t take it seriously because in my mind, I never see myself to become one. I watch beauty pageants in television, but I never imagined myself to be one because I felt that I don’t deserve it. My dream back then was to pursue a course in Biology, study in a medical school, and become a doctor because my passion in health and wellness started due to my awareness in my well-being. However, I ended up pursuing a business course. First, in Accountancy, then shifted to another course which I would soon finish, a degree in Business Administration major in Financial Management. Moreover, I just brushed off the comments from other people since I was focused in my studies to become a doctor someday. Yet, right now, my shifting of course from Accountancy to Financial Management is a blessing in disguise since I discovered my interest in Finance and being involved in current events especially in terms of the Philippine economy.

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My collection of America’s Next Top Model DVDs

I also consider my personality as a resilient one since I’ve developed this during my bullying experiences in my childhood days. Whenever I am negatively criticized, instead of sobbing and making it as my weakness, I used it as my motivation, my sources of strength. One day, when I was still in 1st year high school, while watching television at home, I saw an episode of America’s Next Top Model and there, I first met Tyra Banks. I felt an interest watching the reality modeling show. This started my fascination in modeling. I became interested in fashion most especially if you mention fashion capitals in the world such as New York, London, or Paris. I always watch every episode of ANTM. I bought DVDs of the reality modeling contest and watched every cycle and knew the winners names from Cycle 1 to Cycle 20 and do Tyra’s smize. I haven’t watched Cycle 21 and 22 because I became less interested when male models were included and when the reality show became commercialized. I also hate Kelly (“The B*tch” they say) Cutrone. Through these, my dream to become a fashion model or rather a supermodel started. I look up to Tyra Banks, Beverly Johnson, Kate Moss, Coco Rocha, and Cindy Crawford. I dreamed of going to New York and experience go-sees in modeling agencies such as Wilhelmina and Elite. However, I don’t know how I would be able to go to that place knowing the expensive cost-of-living and my other dreams I desire to pursue.

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Our country’s 4-peat queens in Miss Universe from 2010 to 2013 (Left to Right: Maria Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup, Janine Tugonon, Ariella Arida) Image from philstar.com

On the other hand, my awareness in beauty pageants began when Venus Raj landed as 4th runner up in Miss Universe 2010. Beforehand, I got a glimpse of watching Miss Cagayan de Oro, a local beauty pageant in our city. In my mind, I thought that beauty queens are stiff. They only do such things like walk in high heels, put their hands on their waist, and pose with their brightest smile at the end of the stage. They don’t know how to pose in front of a camera and achieve that haute couture (high fashion) pose. There’s just one thing that I admire from these beauty queens, their ability to wittily answer the questions within the limited time they were given, not to mention the pressure to ace the question and answer portion in front of a crowd who have the potential to cheer or boo you. My full awareness in pageants came during 2013 when Ariella Arida bagged the 3rd runner up place in Miss Universe, Megan Young winning the 1st Miss World crown for the Philippines, and Bea Rose Santiago bringing home the country’s 5th Miss International crown. I was just amazed on how these ladies and the 4-peat queens of our Miss Universe-Philippines representatives did their best to bring pride to our country. I then knew that these beauty queens are not only blessed with beauty but have endowed intelligence. Venus Raj graduated as Cum Laude with her degree in Mass Communication. Shamcey Supsup was a topnotcher in the 2010 Architecture licensure examination and graduated as Magna Cum Laude in the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Janine Tugonon is a Thomasian licensed pharmacist and Ariella Arida is a Chemistry graduate from the University of the Philippines-Los Banos. We can say that these ladies are not just graced with beauty but also with wit and confidence. Then, I discovered that being a beauty queen is a tough one.

While watching documentaries and reading blogs from pageant experts and from Missosology, a pageant blog and forum, I realized that being a beauty queen or even molding a beauty queen is not a child’s play. My perception of beauty queens immediately changed. I discovered that training a lady to become a beauty queen is similar to training in an olympics. The swimsuit competition in prestigious pageants shows her discipline and her ability to take care of herself. A beauty queen is trained not just to walk in a 6-inch heels but to project herself confidently in the stage. She is trained to interact well and work professionally with her colleagues. She is intellectually aware and involved on the current events that are happening since she is a spokesperson and an ambassadress of goodwill. She knows how to handle bashers and just brush off those negative comments and vibes. Mostly, what I like most in beauty pageants is that you are able to use your title not only to improve yourself as a person but also to transcend your knowledge to other people, to be an enterprising citizen by influencing the society, and to promote your advocacy on certain issues. Because of these things, I began to have an utmost respect to beauty queens.

Through such things, my fascination both in the fashion industry and beauty pageants flourished. For me, I consider both of these industries as a match since in order to become a beauty queen, one should have an idea on how to appropriately style herself depending on her body proportions and facial symmetry. During college, I started to follow beauty pageants most especially Miss Universe. Speaking of Miss Universe, I was extremely happy and I really cried when, finally, after 42 years, my fellow Kagay-anon, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, won the elusive Miss Universe 2015 title. Never mind what Steve Harvey did and what the Colombian nitpickers are doing. What matters most is that we Filipinos are indeed happy with her victory since it is not just hers, but also for the Filipino’s around the world, the universe rather. 😉 Anyway, I read blogs from pageant websites such as Missosology and from veteran pageant experts like Norman Tinio, Ms. Joyce Burton-Titular (Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 1985), and the famous beauty queen maker, Jonas Antonio Gaffud. I started to have knowledge on beauty pageants. I started to realize that the hard work of a beauty queen cannot be seen when she glides on stage in her evening gown or when she struts in her swimsuit, but most of it happens backstage, when the cameras are not focused on them. Then, I began to question, when would I become one and how?

The Start of My Experience

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1st pageant, Mister and Miss XU-JFINEX 2014

My entire college life was a dream for me. My dream of becoming a beauty queen slowly emerged. I was just waiting for the right timing to join a pageant for experience and for my stepping stone towards bigger things. I was merely focused on my studies and I never emerged in the limelight. Until our school organization (Xavier University – Junior Financial Executives) general assembly came and each block from our course needs a representative for the Mister and Miss JFINEX 2014. My block mates were really rooting for me to be our block’s representative but I turned down because I never believed in myself during that time. I felt that I was not deserving to be one because I’m not ready, so they chose my other classmate. I was relieved but I felt sad because maybe this is an opportunity for me to improve myself, to know if I really deserve to be one. Fortunately, my classmate who was chosen, turned down. My gay classmate who is also fond of beauty pageants told me that I should be the class representative since he is confident that I could ace the question and answer. So, I accepted the challenge and became the block representative together with my male classmate. Through that, I was just thinking of the famous finance concept, “The higher the risk, the higher the return.”

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The Winners of Mister and Miss XU-JFINEX 2014 (Left to right: Rodyard Camarin – Mr. JFINEX 2014 2nd Runner Up, Napoleon Fortis – 1st Runner Up, Christian Daniel Salinas – Mr. JFINEX 2014, Miss JFINEX 2014, Melrose Peligrino – Miss JFINEX 1st Runner Up, Maureen Grace Vallejos, Me – Miss JFINEX 2nd Runner Up)

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Miss XU-JFINEX 2014, 2nd Runner Up in her pop inspired outfit. I was the stylist of this outfit.

During the question and answer, just like in any beauty pageants, one would pick a question in a bowl. But for us during the pageant, we would pick a finance term, define it, and relate it in your life. I still remember that time when my name was already called for the Q and A round. It was nerve-wracking. As I walked towards the stage to pick a question, I was really nervous, praying that I would pick a familiar finance term. Thank God, I picked the term, “risk.” I forgot my whole answer but I remembered that it was about pursuing education and despite the risk that arise from it, what matters most are the lessons and experiences we had as a Financial Management student. To cut the long story short, I placed as 2nd runner up. A lot of people thought that I was already the winner yet even though I only placed as a runner-up, it was already a big achievement for me knowing that that were 10 block representatives both from 3rd year and 4th year vying for the Miss JFINEX 2014 title and I was included in the Top 3. Although it was not as prestigious as other pageants, I considered it as a stepping stone.

Another Experience
My second engagement was not in pageants but in a catwalk competition. It was also during our school organization’s general assembly last August 21, 2015. The concept of the fashion show was Trash to Class. In each block, aside from the Mister and Miss JFINEX 2015 representatives per block, at least three models per class would walk with them during the fashion show, wearing their respective creative outfits made out of recycled materials. It was like Miss Philippines Earth’s Trash to Class Competition. My co-models are my two beautiful classmates, Claui, a 5’7” stunner who is a local model here in our city, and Marie Chris, a statuesque 5’8” varsity basketball player in school. I am 5’6” so you can see the discrepancy. Haha.

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Left to Right: Marie Chris, Me, and Claui

Each of us made our own outfits. For Claui, her skirt was made out of trash bags and her cropped top from bottled water plastic labels. For Marie Chris, her dress was made from cellophane sprayed with colorful paint. For my outfit, it was made from tansans and fish net. Gratefully, our block bagged as the champion of the catwalk competition.

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With my supportive friend
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A closer look of my make up (Make up by Alex Fitz Giritan)
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Rave The Wave Fierceness H2T on timer. Haha. 😛
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Our certificate, hanged in my bedroom wall. This serves as my daily dose inspiration as I face another day.

Big Dreams Ahead
As I would finish college soon, I would say that I am already closer to pursue my dream. Yet, it’s so near, yet so far. I still need to learn a lot. Looking back, I never thought that I would have this dream. This did not just popped out but I believe that it is a calling for me, a passion which drives my heart on fire. My experiences before, may it be positive or negative, are building blocks for me in order to establish my life’s ideals and values. I am mostly grateful for such experiences in the past.

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My random acts of modeling, as Tyra Banks would usually do.

At 5’6″, I am tall for a typical Filipina but for national pageants, it isn’t. I am just at the 5’6″ borderline height requirement. However, I still have the guts to join the most prestigious pageant in the country, soon. Indeed, there are so many beautiful Filipina out there who has same dreams as mine, but for me, it is most important to just close your eyes and look inside one’s self. Then, when you’re ready, pour out your energy and just believe in yourself and remember that you are worth it. Right now, I am just molding myself to become the best by excelling in my academics for my last semester in college and making the most out of it, being engaged in the community, meeting new people, and looking forward for more experiences that would change me as a person. I desire to mold my heart, my mind, and my soul to become not just an ordinary beauty queen but an extraordinary leader and role model to the community. I promised to myself that I won’t be leaving any stone unturned in my future endeavors. Most importantly, I always seek guidance to Our Almighty Father that hopefully, he would allow me to pursue this big dream and would strengthen me in the day-to-day challenges I encounter. This is just the beginning of my story in my fascination of beauty pageants and I pray and I am looking forward for an exceptional one soon.

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My creative shot for our college yearbook
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