Beauty pageants is serious business in the Philippines. Any type of pageant is practically found here. There is one for almost everybody, from the traditional beauty pageants for single young women to kiddie talent shows. There is a pageant for men, gays and transgendered, too. Name it, there is one here one way or the other. It has been a part of the culture and society that it is the highlight of any town festivities or events. A town fiesta is incomplete without crowning the most beautiful maiden or the most good-looking lad. People will wait until even after midnight just to see who wins and it will further be the talk of the town for days or weeks depending on how controversial the results.
The search for beauty and the beautiful is innate human nature, it is universal and it encompasses demographics, race and gender. Beauty pageants here have been a show stopper and people tune-in more on this than say, politics. For whatever its worth, Filipino’s love for pop-culture have been so intense that if there were any pageants, sporting events like boxing or soccer, concerts, death of a celebrity and many others shown live on television, crime levels decrease and street traffic lessened. Many people find watching beauty pageants fun and a temporary relief from the stresses of daily lives.
Same is true with campus life. Yes, the stress and the part where they consider beauty pageants serious business, too. One of the highlights of a school year is the crowning of the year’s ‘most’ beautiful female and the ‘most’ handsome male students. My French class begged that they watch this years’ search for that Mr and Miss. Most of them would do anything to witness the show, or they may pretend in class but their minds linger and wonder as what could be happening in the auditorium especially when they hear the almost inaudible cheering that reverberates all through out the building. Today, my subject and I for them is stress and their temporary relief would be to watch the pageant.
Luckily for them, I will sit as one of the judges. I brought them along with me to cheer for their classmates and friends who will dare to take the limelight and get scrutinized not only by the six jury but practically all the 500 plus people inside the auditorium.
Just like in the ‘real’ world where Filipinos will sit and await if the Philippines will make it to the top 10 of the Miss Universe contest, the crowd in the auditorium brought with them banners, placards and their high octave voices to cheer and await for their favorites to make it to the semi-finalist. And just like in the ‘real’ contest, the show begins with the candidates parading in their elaborate national costumes introducing themselves screaming out their name, their age and their course (degree). The contest started with an upbeat production number, complete with stage lights, backdrops and hosted by three students who are as equally well-dressed for the event.
I never thought that being a judge is difficult. Most of the candidates are my students or have been but I practically never thought that they could look this amazing on stage.
The summer wear competition (swimsuits not allowed, we are a Catholic school) is the next part. I do not know how they changed that fast but I immediately just find myself looking back and forth to the candidates as they sashay on stage. I should now judge themselves according to their facial and physical beauty, confidence on stage and audience impact. The most difficult part is to decide how to put a number on the audience impact. There’s audience impact for sure and it nearly broke my eardrums.
After what seem like about three upbeat modern songs, the summer wear competition ended and the three eloquent hosts call on today’s special performers. I never realized that the judge who sits a chair away on my left will dance together with a group who appeared on a national competition called Pinoy Got Talent. It is a local counterpart of the world-famous U.K. Got Talent. They are famous because they made the screams notched a thousand decibel higher, it was excruciating.
A more subtle evening wear competition came next. With subdued music, this part straight-away became my favorite. The scoring sheet provided a list of what I look for; elegance, posture, charm, facial beauty and confidence. All of this in mind, I scribbled figures on the sheet, I had to erase, rewrite and change some of the scores I gave. These candidates are just wonderful.
After what seemed like about 5 songs, the competition ended and one of the fine hosts announced that we shall be witnessing the top winners of the talent competition that took place a week-ago. And the candidates never failed, they have talents too. The first male contestant danced, the next guy sang a song and the third played a guitar and sang. The female talent winner danced a modern repertoire, the other a ballet, the third performed wushu (photo below), I’m not sure maybe Kung Fu and the last candidate danced with a ‘poi’.
Just like in the ‘real’ world, the candidates, all 17 of them which includes 11 women and 6 men are now back on stage to receive the special awards much to the delight of the cheering audience. One male contestant bagged almost all the awards while many girls are recipient to various awards which include the Best in Evening Wear, Best in talent, Best in Costume, People’s Choice Awards based on the number of votes in the net and the money collected from friends and the Congeniality Award, which is of course a choice among the candidates themselves. One after the other, the winners receive their trophy, sashes and bouquet of flowers, just like in the real world.
The much awaited question and answer part came and many of the crowd favorites seemed to have butterflies in their stomach. Nevertheless, true to their roles as friends and schoolmates, they cheered no matter how odd some of the responses were.
The candidates were all asked to appear on stage. The hosts soon announced the top 4 men and top 4 women. The crowd was anxious, happy, upset and joyful each time someone makes it in the top 8. Most of the early favorites did not make it due to the lack of points obtained. One guy who was not even a crowd favorite astonished everyone with his unabated answer on the issue about culture emerged in the top 4 and now instantly became the horde’s new choice. Hushed and muted murmurs were heard obviously disapproving the result of the semi-finalists. It is just like in the real world were many would dispute the result of a contest. Well, to each is own. Beauty is relative and it is in the eye of the beholder, there you go.
Each of the last 8 answered a question thrown at them that determines their wit and ability to handle grace under pressure. Some of them falter while the others constantly delivered much to delight of the applauding fans.
The time came for last year’s winners to relinquish their crowns. Last year’s title holders work the runway while their recorded message airs. The audience approve their accomplishments the past year.
Anxiously, loud mumbles were heard while the hosts await for the last tally that will show this year’s winners. Four hours into the program, the students enthusiasm never faded, they were as lively as when the event started.
The crowd roared the numbers of the candidates during the last moments of the pageant. One by one, favorites and bets receive their awards in ascending order from the 3rd runner-up to the winner. The unanimous approval of the crowd to the eventual winners is clear and the judges, myself included chose the most deserving titleholders for this year, just like how they do it in the ‘real’ world.
The event is a project of the Events Management Class. They prepared this event from planning to the staging of the pageant. Just like in the real world were a pageant must amuse and give temporary stress to the target audience, this class surely did just that.
The big winners (photo below) will have to eventually compete in a university-wide beauty contest and the much awaited inter-university pageant in the city. But, unlike in the ‘real’ world, there is no cash awards involved in this pageant, only bragging rights.
Photos courtesy of Anne Digol.
Thanks Anne 🙂