How do queens find their purpose? Are beauty pageants still relevant in the pandemic? What happens after the coronation?
These are the questions answered during the first part of PhilSTAR L!fe's Beauty and the Queen webinar series on Sept. 20.
Armed with their inspiring pageant-ready answers, Miss Universe 2010 4th runner-up Venus Raj and Miss Grand International 1st runner-up Samantha Bernardo had a lively discussion with 1999 Miss Universe runner-up and host Miriam Quiambao about the inner workings of a beauty queen.
The great unknown
The queens first spoke about how they made their way into the world of paegantry, with each having different starting points.
For Samantha, it began when her father died and she was reminded to take risks in life.
"After college, ang biggest compelling reason ko was when my Dad died—that was four years ago. Doon ko lang na-realize na maikli lang ang buhay... I decided to join Binibining Pilipinas kasi ayokong magkaroon ng regrets."
With her background in gymnastics, she also already had a leg up on presenting herself with grace. “I really wanted a change, and I wanted adventure," Samantha added.
For Venus, it was a matter of "sustenance" that pushed her to become a beauty queen and to continue supporting her family and education at the time.
"I was a scholar of my family, ruma-raket lang ako noon. I would use the money to help my family. At that time, tingin ko yung pageantry ay isang paraan para kumita."
Eventually, she saw that it was part of God's plan after getting the chance to join Miss Universe.
Raj: There's a purpose why the Lord brought me (to the world of pageantry). After joining Miss Universe, doon ko nakita ang purpose ng pagsali sa beauty pageants.— PhilSTAR L!fe (@philstarlife) September 20, 2021
A new normal in beauty pageants
With Miss Universe Philippines well underway, the queens also raised the topic on whether or not beauty pageants are still relevant during the pandemic—as it's been a topic of discussion on social media in the past year.
"I think it's still relevant because social media is something that young people [use]," Venus shared. "Dun mo nakikita na meron paring relevance yung pag gamit ng social media sa tamang paraan. Not just to promote ourselves, but to promote a cause or a topic that is relevant in society today."
She added that it's a necessary platform for young women to find role models in their lives.
For Samantha, she said it still depends on the person: "For me, I don't wanna say pageant is like a hundred percent relevant right now kasi we all have different kinds of priorities, right? For me, personally, it's about amplifying the causes that we really want."
She went on to reference 2020 Miss Universe's Myanmar and her stand against military violence.
"It also brings important issues such as what's happening in Myanmar and Thailand, it gives us a platform. Doon ko na-realize that this is not just a beauty pageant, this means life to other people and that's why it's really relevant."
Miriam added that pageants can be used as a "platform for whatever purpose you have, may it be a purpose for yourself or one that is of a higher calling."
Meanwhile, they also raised their glasses to this year's Miss Universe contestants for being a "one-woman production" throughout their run.
"Our beauty queens, especially those during beauty pageants in the midst of the pandemic. Taas-noo, saludo ako sakanila. "Ibang klase sila!" Venus gushed.
"Sila gumagawa ng sariling makeup, sila shoot, sila gumagawa ng lahat. I really have respect for that, because it wasn’t like that during my time."
Samantha, who joined Miss Grand International in March 2021, also shared that she went through the hardship of joining beauty pageants amid the pandemic—from creating her own social media content to preparing her own meals.
"So sobra talagang saludo ako sa lahat ng gumagawa ng paegants ngayon."
Watch the rest of their talk here:
Part 2 of Beauty and the Queen will be aired on Sept. 22, 6 p.m., on the PhilSTAR L!fe Facebook page.