December 10, 2022
Photomanipulation by Timothy Mongcal

Pageantries hold a special place in the hearts of Filipinos who are always ready to support their favorite Filipina beauty queens and cheer them on in their journeys for the crown. 

Defining our world-famous “Filipino pride”, our kababayans from around the globe would never miss pageantry competitions such as Binibining Pilipinas and Miss Universe. 

Lipa Lasallians are not strangers to this scene, as many young and passionate women vie for the crown to represent their schools and hometowns as well as to voice their advocacies.

Qyzel Sapitanan (Binibining Quezon 2019), Reneé Coleen Sta. Teresa (Miss Silka Batangas 2018), and Joy Jemarie Neri (Binibining Lipa 2022), are only some of the Lasallian beauty queens who courageously take part in competitions not only for their looks but also for their talents and wits.

In conversation with these Lasallian beauty queens, we got to dig deeper into their motivations and how they overcame setbacks.

Where do you take inspiration from?

Reneé: Noong una, I started joining [pageants] to make my family proud, [especially] for my lola kasi siya talaga ‘yung nagpapa-join sa’kin ng mga pageants. Tapos, when I realized how amazing and empowering the platform is, that’s when I took inspiration from the people around me, especially among young girls. Kasi, you’re in a spot where you can influence other people. 

Qyzel: I have always looked up sa ating mga former queens, especially Pia Wurtzbach and Kylie Versoza. ‘Yung journey nila nag-impart sa’kin na sometimes, rejections are a blessing in disguise and that with passion and perseverance, you will find your bigger purpose. 

Joy: There are a lot of inspirations and experiences that pushed me for this. My mom and dad. I want to make them happy, but I also want to make them proud. Also, I wanted to conquer my fears to make myself a better and a stronger woman. 

What are some of the challenges in competing, and how do you bounce back from these setbacks? 

Reneé:  Since I was little, number one criticism na naririnig ko talaga is sayang ako because I’m not tall. ‘Yun ‘yung talagang pinakamasakit sa’kin kasi you know, I can’t change my height. So I just focused [on what] I can improve, like let’s say communication skills, my advocacies. 

Qyzel: The fear of not measuring up to a standard or to someone’s expectations. It holistically affects you [negatively], which can then influence your performance throughout the competition. That is why having a good mindset, remembering bakit ka nga ba nagsimula, and being surrounded by the people who will uplift and support you will help you to bounce back from these setbacks. 

Joy: The pandemic really dragged me down. I started to isolate myself from the world, and most of the time, I didn’t know how to go back to who I used to be. I starved myself because I felt like I am not beautiful enough. But one day, I woke up thinking that I should start helping myself, and I am blessed to have people who didn’t give up on me. I [learned] to accept my flaws and insecurities and [hopefully] inspire people.

What advocacies do you support, and how has pageantry helped you realize these causes? 

Reneé: Being a tourism student, my advocacy would always be […] ecological and environmental conservation through sustainable tourism. I want to urge more people to travel responsibly. Kasi small actions, collectively, can create a huge impact. 

Qyzel: Aside from being a volunteer in our community and an advocate for marine conservation, my passion [for helping] others continues to fuel me to support the causes that I believe in, and one of these causes, which is close to my heart, is to support our Filipino farmers, especially in my hometown Sariaya, Quezon. Hindi ko makita na parang lalaban lang ako just for the sake of the title [or] of the crown. I’m searching for my bigger purpose. 

Joy: One of my advocacies is about mental health awareness. [All of us are] fighting our own battles, silently, due to fear that no one will listen and understand how we truly feel. I want to end the stigma and discrimination regarding psychological well-being. Out of ten people [surrounding] you, there is always one person who will lend an extra shoulder.

How do beauty pageants empower women, and how do beauty queens empower others? 

Reneé: Confidence ‘yung na-enhance sa’kin ng mga pageants, with not just how I look pero with my capabilities din as a person.Yung mga bagay na I thought I couldn’t do, I was able to do. Nakita ko na meron pala akong voice na makapag-motivate and makapag-inspire ng ibang tao. So ‘yung ginagawa ko naman to radiate ‘yung confidence na na-gain ko is to pay it forward, like the small things of complimenting young girls because it helps coming from other people. 

Qyzel:  By allowing us to embrace our authentic selves and [break] that stereotype of what society imposes women to be. It allows us to share our stories of bravery. We are [women] of positive influence who can value diversity, can use [our] intelligence and sense of leadership to inspire and be the voice to others. 

Joy:  Pageants help boost the contestants’ confidence and willingness to show how beautiful they are in and out. Joining a pageant is not just about winning but learning from the experience to share with other people what you advocate or stand for. Always remember how unique and compassionate you are as a woman. Always show them your worth.

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Reneé: Keep doing what you do and don’t listen to other people. You don’t have to please anyone; just do it for yourself. As long as wala ka namang tinatapakang tao, just keep doing it. 

Qyzel: To stop comparing and start believing in our capabilities [and] our vision and dreams. Also, to keep that burning passion in our hearts because it will lead us to places that we are destined for. And also to pray.

Joy: Don’t be afraid to take a different path than others, and don’t live for someone else’s validation. Accept and love yourself for who you are. Do what makes you happy. 

***

With our country being a powerhouse for beauty pageants, it comes as no surprise how our own homegrown beauties also hope to walk the international stage one day. But more than just taking home the crown, these Lasallian women have also shown how they want to be examples and an inspiration for others in discovering their passions and pursuing their dreams. 

Already, these Lasallian beauty queens are leaving their marks on the pageant stage. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *