The beauty of Filipino women has captivated the world for many decades. Generations of Miss Philippines titleholders have constantly been in the Top 10 of international beauty pageants, even bringing home the crown a number of times.
Last week, I was on a beauty pageant roll as judge in two very different yet special contests.
The first was the inaugural Miss Gay Manila 2015. Some conservatives may consider the event controversial, but I found it courageous and relevant, as the 29 transgender candidates promoted gender equality that evening at the PICC Plenary Hall.
Kudos to the city of Manila which put up Miss Gay Manila. Manila Mayor Erap Estrada said the pageant would not only recognize the city’s gay community, it also raised funds for the various medical missions of Mare Foundation headed by former First Lady Dr. Loi Ejercito and daughter Jackie Ejercito-Lopez.
Co-organized by Viva Live, the extravagant production was impressive and truly a display of beauty and brains beyond sexual orientation. This celebration of gender equality was one of the grandest coronation nights I have attended. The costumes were spectacular and the evening gowns were beautiful.
Hosts Paolo Ballesteros and Divine Lee kept the energy high, especially in bringing out the intelligence of the candidates during the Q&A segment.
Anne Curtis brought the house down with a remarkable special guest performance.
Winning the crown and a half-million-peso prize was Trixie Maristela, who also won Best in Evening Gown.
First runner-up Marianne Arguelles and second runner-up Francine Garcia also won cash prizes. They likewise tied for the Best in Swimsuit award. The three will be the LGBT spokespersons for the city of Manila.
The very next evening, I was a judge again, this time at the Slimmers World Miss Bikini Philippines 2015 held at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila.
The 32 candidates were the epitome of bikini sexiness, of course, but in the end, Maria Fatima “Tim” Alsowyed claimed the grand title. Her court included first runner-up Angelu Gonzales and second runner-up Nicole Dichoso.
Judging at Miss Manila and Slimmers World Miss Bikini Philippines had me wearing gowns by designer Cherry Veric. But I also had the same bejeweled crown made by Cebu designer Mark Tenchavez. Good crowns need to be reused, I’m sure the Queen of England would agree. I wore this crown first at my 20th wedding anniversary last year.