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Opinion: Why Filipinos are Fascinated with Beauty Pageants

12/11/2017 08:37:00 PM Media Center 0 Comments

On December 20, 2015, 42 years after the last time a Filipina ever won the title, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach brought home the Miss Universe crown to the Philippines. This moment brought a lot of joy and pride to the Filipino people, so much so that when she returned to the country she received a hero’s welcome. Since winning, Wurtzbach has been a steady figure in mainstream media has received strong support from the Filipinos.

Two years before that, Megan Young became the first ever Filipina to win the title of Miss World. She was also well received by the Filipino communities all over the world. Bringing home honor to the Philippines has always been an easy token for one to win the hearts of her fellow countrymen.

Just recently, Rachel Peters joined the Miss Universe pageant to represent our country. As expected, she received a great deal of attention. However, this attention was then directed to the statements she gave regarding her political views. This led to a negative response from many especially on social media. Not unlike Peters’ experience, Maxine Medina, as Miss Universe Philippines 2016 was heavily criticized for her apparent poor communication skills, especially in the English language.

It all seemed as if it was a huge deal at the time because to the viewers and supporters, a candidate must be as close to perfect as possible. As shown in the previous examples, when the Philippines wins in any international beauty pageant, it’s greeted with great astonishment and happiness. Yet, when one sees a flaw in someone they thought was flawless, and since normally there isn’t any sort of obligation between the audience and the beauty queens, it’s easy for one to withdraw his/her support.

Filipinos have always had a strong affinity for beauty pageants. This can be seen not only in the overwhelming encouragement and assistance given to representatives of the country in international competitions, but in local pageants as well. It’s not only about Miss International, Miss Earth, Miss World, or Miss Universe; it’s also about local beauty pageants, such as Ms. Gay Philippines or other barangay competitions. Almost every barangay in the country has hosted their own beauty pageant, for all kinds of people.

According to University of the Philippines Diliman Professor Wendell Capili, the appeal of beauty pageants to the Filipinos stems from Philippine carnivals hosted by the Americans in the 1900s. These carnivals were made to promote the products from different regions of the country. There would also be a Carnival Queen, and this simple event in which people voted for eventually grew popular. You can observe its immense impact on the people today, with the overwhelming amount of various beauty competitions in the country.

There are even boot camps for beauty queens such as Aces & Queens and Kagandahang Flores. These are groups of people dedicated to mentoring those aspiring for the pageant crowns. Some of the mentors do not even charge for their services, they are just that devoted to making sure a Filipina gets on the pageant stage and bags that crown.

Maybe the greater reason why Filipinos are fond of beauty pageants is because they also take pride in the victory of the candidate. Even if they are not related to the candidate, it seems as if they are also the ones who won. To some, the crown isn’t just an object worn on the winner’s head, but a symbol of victory for everyone involved. It could be for the family, for the barangay, for the region, or even for the whole nation, as in international competitions the representative competes for the country.

Supporting Filipino candidates in beauty pageants locally or internationally is a good thing because it shows how supportive people can be and how in some ways, people can form friendships with others through a unifying goal. However, sometimes the enthusiasm may go overboard, as can be seen in what happened to the previous Miss Universe delegates. There’s no reason for one to go to the point of despising a candidate because she can’t speak English properly, or that she had opposing political views. It’s alright for one to have contradicting views; shout out your opinion, that’s fine. Yet perhaps one should try to understand them a little more; they are representing the nation for us. They’re the ones taking all the pressure and the heat of the competition while everybody else sits on their couch and watches. //by Em Gacad and Hillary Fajutagana

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