18 February 2009

A Viewpoint on Miss Cebu Controversy

Miss Cebu is an annual pageant in one of Philippines' most popular cities. In fact, Cebu is the oldest city in the Philippines when it was established by the Spaniards who colonized the country in 1500's. This pageant is said to be one of the most prestigious beauty pageants in the Philippines but this year's competition was hurled by accusations of manipulation by the pageant organizers.

I found out an interesting article written by Ariel Allera who is a pageant coach and a contributor for The Mindanao Examiner. The title of the article is The Glitch and Glamour: Burdened by 'the beauty & the best' of Miss Cebu by Ariel Allera. Let's read it.

This is in reaction to a myriad scuttlebutts around the Miss Cebu 2009 controversy , as though not only pageant fanatics but also the people in general have been feasting on the topic based on what they've heard on radio, seen on T.V., let alone read in the papers. It's quite burdening to note that some came up with reports, both written and spoken, as if they were missologists who knew much about pageants and the ropes.

It stems from just one minor award given out during the selection cum coronation night held last January 14 at the Pacific Grand Ballroom of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino. The award in question is Globe Texters' Choice, which went to Kris Tiffany Janson. While such must've gone to Kimberley Burden, because the latter was in the lead on the survey, it's not in any way Janson's fault that her name was called. The spectators present at the venue, not to mention the televiewers who were watching the event live on Studio 23, didn't have any inkling to whom Globe Texters' Choice award was supposed to go.

No less than Kris herself was quite taken aback on the spot, because the latest she'd heard about the poll was that it was Kimberley who was leading. Matter of fact, when she was proclaimed the winner, she was hesitant to come forward, until she was completely sure it was her name having been called out by the host. Janson's supporters were as surprised at the announcement, thinking that maybe, just maybe, her votes had surpassed Burden's at the eleventh hour.

Kris Tiffany Janson's bagging the Miss Cebu 2009 crown at the end of the night had nothing to do with the special awards she had garnered prior to the coronation, as well as those she had acquired several nights ago when the candidates were first presented to the public in a fashion show held at the Fuente Osmena Circle.

Quite a number of Miss Universe delegates ended up as winners without any special award in the first place. We can only wish that, before anyone dared to write something about this, they should have followed on prestigious pageants like Miss Universe, as religiously as they keep themselves abreast with current issues...so that they would've known that Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori of Japan didn't get any special award before her crown was relinquished by Puerto Rico's Zuleyka Rivera (Miss Universe 2006), who wasn't awarded with any trophy or whatever prior to her coronation.

Canada's Natalie Glebova won the Miss Universe title in 2005 despite her not getting any minor award. The three successive years had our country's delegates (2007 Bb Pilipinas Anna Theresa Licaros, 2006 Bb Pilipinas Lia Andrea Ramos, 2005 Bb Pilipinas Gionna Cabrera) winning the Miss Photogenic special awards, respectively; however, they were unplaced in the final slot. In 1999, Miriam Quiambao won as Clairol Herbal Essences Style awardee and Spain's Diana Noguera got both the Best in Swimsuit and the Best in Gown special awards, but then Mpule Kwelagobe eventually edged them out by wearing the Miss Universe crown on her way back home to Botswana.

For 25 years now, Miss Cebu organizers have maintained their opulent taste in choosing the right people with the trained eyes for beauty, the keen ears for the sensible brains to match. Unfortunately (read: addressed to the ones who pretend to know something), this search doesn't have a swimsuit competition. The fact that Janson was adjudged Miss Cebu would mean no more than that the judges saw her potentiality to be Cebu's next official ambassador of goodwill, spokesmodel for young Cebuanas, voice to the world. Kris was indisputably a stand-out amongst everyone's bet---what with her lovely face, her vibrant personality, her classy style, her regal carriage, her good breeding, let alone her no-nonsense answer to the final question. Any intelligent audience can attest to all of the above.

How could they question the credibility of judges Tweetie de Leon-Gonzales and Katrina Holigores? Now, some people are making insinuations that both judges must've accounted a lot for Kris's victory because she had been in one of Tweetie's and Katrina's modelling workshops in FTV-Philippines. Dear friends, Metro Magazine's Katrina Holigores was judging only the Best Fashion Designer (Oj Hofer) as well as the Best in Evening Gown awards (take note: the latter went to Rizzini Alexis Gomez). Isn't it shallow?

The pageant is not just for anybody who comes in the Cebu City Tourism Commission Office and goes through the process with at least a five-feet-four stature, a beautiful face, a well-curved body, a fair-complected skin, a mind that contains her canned answers to hackneyed questions. The commissioners aren't a dumb bunch of organizers who will give the last slot to whoever can fill in the blank. Which is why a string of screenings are completed before the list of official candidates is finalized. It is downright ridiculous that, after all, it seems easy for some to say that Kris Tiffany Janson had not undergone the screening process before she was enlisted as one of the 12 official candidates to the 2009 Miss Cebu Search.

It was about 2:00PM on January 29 (Thursday) when Kris and I were together in Ayala Center, en route to Starbucks, where we were supposed to sit down on our interview for my entertainment article, when we received a text message from Dexter Alazas (her mentor, managing director of A.D. Models Philippines and StyleFirm) saying that there was a formal complaint to be filed against them for violating a pageant rule that prohibits the candidates' parents, handlers, and agents from being present in any official pageant activity. It was later stressed that Dexter attended the press conference at the Cebu City Hall and also the Miss Cebu pre-pageant night at the Fuente Osmena Circle.

Dexter had just arrived from Puerto Princesa, Palawan, together with Jam Charish Libatog, fresh from her victory at the Mutya Ng Pilipinas pageant the night prior. Being last year's Miss Cebu 2nd runner-up and another Cebuana who just did Cebu proud, Jam was brought straight to the Cebu City Hall where a press conference was being held for the Miss Cebu 2009 candidates, hosted by reigning queen Sian Elizabeth Maynard, attended by Libatog's fellow runners-up from the previous year and, of course, members of the press. Dexter's presence that evening was highly regarded because, for one, he's the manager of Jam's and, on the other hand, he's a fashion columnist of The Freeman newspaper and so he had every reason to participate in the so-called question-and-answer taking place in the room. Was that hard to understand?

True, Dexter was also present at the pre-pageant night held at the Fuente Osmena Circle. And why wouldn't he be? He's the one who designed and provided for all the 12 red evening gowns that the candidates were wearing at the finale of the fashion show. Is this harder to understand?

Anyhow, Kris and I then decided to just go straight to CCTC office where Dexter was awaiting. We couldn't help laughing up our sleeves because, how could Kris have been enlisted as official candidate if she hadn't passed through the screening? We were all just watching the video that contains the file of that said screening where Kris's first runner-up Rizzini Alexis Gomez was with her, standing before a panel of commissioners who were interviewing them.

It wasn't in any way intended as a special screening for Kris and Rizzini, because there were two other girls scheduled to undergo such but didn't show up for school reasons, because the list of official candidates was not finalized yet, because the last two applicants (Kris and Rizzini) were not difficult to fill in the blank. And w hat do they mean Kris failed to submit her curriculum vitae? There was the official Miss Cebu application form which every aspiring candidate filled out as a prerequisite for the screening. If that's what they mean, maybe it's time they knew its definition and the difference between the two.

Somehow, when thoughts are clouded with sour grapes, the mind becomes restless over nothing more or less than false accusations, a by-product of sheer envy and pure jealousy. Please bear in mind, this is not addressed to the Burdens. It doesn't carry a wisp of insinuation for anybody following on the controversy, for we believe that hate is too great a burden to bear it injures the hater more than it injures the hated. William Shakespeare wrote, "A wretched soul, bruised with adversity, We bid be quiet when we hear it cry; But were we burdened with like weight of pain, As much or more we should ourselves complain..."

Instead that we keep pulling the strings of Kris Tiffany Janson or try to lift the precious 25th Miss Cebu crown from her head, why don't we support the lovely Cebuana in her cause so that, together, we make Cebu go over with a bang in the next 25 years... and beyond?