Winning a Beauty Pageant
An Experience Worth a
Thousand Smiles
choreographers from Manila; and a final night complete with the following competitions: Festival Gown, Summer Wear, Filipiniana Gown, and a
Q&A at the end.

The contestants were required to wear a Festival Gown made of native or recycled materials, preferably with a theme that represents one’s
hometown. In my case, I designed my own Festival Gown, showing my town’s most popular product, Kesong Puti (White Cheese) made from
carabao’s milk and wrapped in banana leaves, and our famous white flower used as garlands, Sampaguita. My dressmaker used recycled
materials, such as sugar sacks, rubber tire interiors, and wire clotheslines. She cut and painted the tire interiors green to look like banana
leaves, and spread sampaguita-look-alikes around the skirt made of used sacks. It was a beautiful creation indeed! Though it didn’t catch the
prize for Best Festival Gown, I knew it helped push me somewhere up there on the judges’ list.

At the Summer Wear competition, I chose to wear a relatively conservative attire of white cotton shorts paired with sleeved blouse, and a
wide-brimmed white hat. I was actually shocked to watch some other contestants wearing bikinis and other attires showing a lot of skin. I
personally thought before this competition that as a grandmother, I should emphasize how I carry myself in any attire, not how my body looks
like. I tried my best to move onstage with the grace of a fashion model, but I’m sure the judges knew grandmas couldn’t really do so at our age!
Well, I learned later that I landed on second place in this category.

When the Filipiniana Gown competition was called, I was extremely tense. At this point, I haven’t gotten any Special Award. Special awards
have already been given out: Best in Festival Gown, Miss Lola Friendship, Miss Lola Photogenic, Best in Summer Wear, and Best in Runway.
Earlier in the pageant, I was hoping to just get at least one Special Award; unfortunately, I think because I was placed at the back of other
contestants (we were placed alphabetically according to towns represented), it was difficult to be seen by the judges right away. My hopes
were getting low.

Then the Best in Filipiniana Gown was announced...and it wasn’t me again. My heart sank deeper. My hopes were almost gone.
Then as the eight finalists were being called, I was praying hard. I said, “Please let me be included at least in this group, Lord.” And my number
was called!

This was the first time I was placed in front, and I knew I had the chance I was looking for...the chance to be seen longer by the judges. In
addition, I told myself I would do my best to answer the magic question to attract everyone’s attention. It was the only opportunity left for me to
land at least in the top three.

All questions fielded to the eight finalists concerned senior citizens and their challenges in life and society, what actions they should do and
why. The question I got was: “Are you in favor of a widowed senior citizen to get married again?”

I answered with a big smile: “Yes, I am in favor of a widowed senior citizen to get married again...because it is lonely to be alone, and I should
know for I am one.” Then I held the host’s hand (who was fortunately to my left) and I said, “It is wonderful to have somebody who holds your
hand when you’re down...somebody who is glad for and with you when you’re happy...and somebody who will give you that body warmth
during cold nights...” I emphasized the last statement in Tagalog, and the audience applauded. Finally I added, “After all, I believe that ‘Love is
lovelier the second time around.’” I gave enough feeling and space to every word I said, such that I received the most applause and highest
audience impact score. I learned later, too, that I received perfect scores in Q&A from all five judges.

When the top three winners were being called, I wasn’t expecting anything. I told myself I might not win because I didn’t even get any Special
Award earlier. But when my number was called as the winner, I was stunned, became teary eyed and too shocked to even utter a word. It was
one of the most special nights I ever had in life!

I have been honored by my municipality last March 12th during a flag-raising ceremony at the municipal hall, with town officials led by Mayor
Dennis Panganiban. I have several more invitations for parties thanking me as the lone top winner representing my hometown in ANILAG, and
I just am grateful for the special attention I am getting at this time. Winning has its perks. But victories don’t change who I am.
Author was recently honored by the capital town of Santa Cruz, Province
of Laguna, Philippines, for winning the pageant "Pinakamagandang Lola
ng Laguna 2017" (Most Beautiful Grandma of Laguna 2017).
By Heidi M. Pascual

On March 7th this year, I won a beauty pageant title in the province
of Laguna called “Pinakamagandang Lola ng Laguna 2017” (The
Most Beautiful Grandma of the Province of Laguna 2017). It was a
competition featured in the annual ANILAG Festival, a one-week
festival showcasing the harvests, products, tourist attractions,
histories, and unique services of Laguna’s 26 municipalities and
four cities. Laguna is my home province; it is located south of
Metro Manila, such that three of its towns closest to Manila have
become cities themselves. ANILAG Festival also boasts of a huge
trade fair, carnival rides, land floats, street dancing competitions
from various schools, craft and cooking contests, band concerts,
and three other beauty pageants: Gay and Mr. And Miss Laguna.

I was selected in early February this year to represent my
hometown in the pageant for grandmothers. Truth to tell, I was
randomly chosen by a former town official who happened to know
me since childhood! The pageant followed all procedures currently
being implemented by national beauty pageant organizations:
pictorials/photo shoots and introductions of contestants held in a
beautiful tourist area; production rehearsals with directors and