Grace under pressure, that's what the Miss Universe Philippines (MUP) organization and its candidates seem to exemplify amid the pandemic.
Headed by its recently appointed national director Shamcey Supsup-Lee, the entire team has been adjusting to the 'new normal' in beauty pageants with confidence and optimism, as the competition's finale draws near.
"It has been a challenging year for Miss Philippines. I'm pretty sure it's not just us, a lot of people had to change their plans for the whole year. We are really lucky and blessed that even though we had to face the most challenging times, we were still able to push through with the pageant," Supsup-Lee said in an interview with ABS-CBN News' Dyan Castillejo last October 20.
Supsup-Lee, crowned Binibining Pilipinas Universe in 2011, went on to describe how their team is exerting all effort to ensure their candidates' safety at the onset of the pre-pageant activities.
She said these preparations began two weeks prior to the candidates' arrival in Manila where every one of them was required to take a swab test. "Prior to the testing, they told the candidates to stay at home for two weeks so that the result would be negative," Supsup-Lee explained. "All our candidates were coming from different provinces so we had to fly all of them Manila first where they had to undergo a mandatory PCR test."
After securing their clearances, the candidates traveled to Baguio Country Club for their board and lodging until the finale that will take place in the club's Cordillera Convention Hall on October 25.
Supsup-Lee added, "They had to undergo another test here in Baguio. So every five days, we have to test them. So that's how stringent our protocols are."
Self-makeup and hairstyling
To prevent the risk of COVID-19 infection, the organizers agreed to keep their manpower at a minimum.
This meant requiring the candidates to rely on themselves for their own makeup and styling, Supsup-Lee said.
"Even though wala silang mga hairstylist and mga makeup artist here in Baguio, may Zoom naman so minsan may mga Zoom tutorials sila," she clarified.
She added, "I guess the good training for them as well kasi when they compete sa international, you have to do your own hair and makeup. So it's a good thing for them kasi in the international pageant, ganun rin and gagawin nila."
Social distancing on stage
In the same interview with Castillejo, Supsup-Lee revealed that the candidates will not wear face masks on stage, but maintain proper social distancing.
She expounded, "During backstage [and] some of the behind-the-scens shoots, every time the girl is not on stage, she has to wear the mask and shield and they have a meter space where they are not allowed to talk to each other. Pero of course when they go on stage, tatanggalin nila 'yung mask and shield and we will make sure na merong social distancing tayo on stage.
Adding to that, they will "make sure na only 10 girls will be there at one time at one place."
There will be no live audience at the event, but you can stream it for $6 (P299) through Ring Light on Empire.ph.
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Proudly Pinoy pageant
The pandemic may have altered many parts of the much-awaited event, but the MUP is still living up to the pageant's persona of all-Pinoy glam.
"The girls will showcase the Filipino designers for their evening gowns, our official swimsuit provider is Furne One. It's not the normal swimsuit that you usually see in pageants. It's very classy. Kasi ayoko rin ng masyadong revealing na swimsuits," Supsup-Lee said.
"May symbolism for everything. Even for the swimsuit, bakit ganyan yung design, inspiration behind that, the crown, even the opening song. So parang lahat talaga we really try to showcase the beauty of the Philippines," she added.
The beauty queen concluded, "We made sure na we incorporated Filipino identity in our show from the opening song to the background the lighting. So hopefully despite the limitations that we have, we would be able to make the Filipinos proud of the show."
Banner image from @themissuniverseph on Instagram.