My mother, Chiqui Brosas, was a former beauty queen (Bb. Pilipinas-Universe). A very gregarious and outgoing person, she placed fourth in the 1975 Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador. I grew up quite the opposite.
I was timid and shy. Following in my mother’s footsteps was never in my plans. I knew my strengths so I chose to concentrate on my studies. I graduated as a dean’s lister in 2004 from Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Computer Science. In five years, I went from being a programmer, to a project manager for a large telecommunications company, to an I.T. consultant for an international firm.
Needless to say, being an I.T. programmer and a beauty queen were on completely opposite poles. I must admit I had never watched a beauty pageant, even my mother’s. I had almost no modeling experience. My world was different from the glitz and glamour of Bb. Pilipinas, but I did not let that stop me. I wanted to try and I wasn’t going to let my inexperience discourage me.
The pageant was not without challenge. I was constantly asked whether I was pressured by my mom’s legacy. Strong competition surrounded me and there were expectations to do well in the question and answer portion due to my “bookish” background. Without focus, it could have been very easy to lose confidence and be overcome with anxiety. But I did not allow myself to become distracted. This for me was a competition against myself.
I worked hard to learn the ins and outs of being a beauty queen. Many sleepless nights were spent “YouTube-ing” past pageants. I read up and wrote down my thoughts on almost every world issue. I learned to put on make-up by watching the artists paint my face.
I experimented with different hairstyles to see what best suited me. Despite the initial awkwardness, I found the courage to go out in my swimsuit and strut my stuff in front of millions of viewers. I swallowed my fear of tripping on my very long gown and learned how to walk down the stage with the confidence of a pro. I smiled like a winner every day despite the lack of sleep, an aching back and painful throbbing feet. To me, success was measured by my ability to bring out the best in myself, to lose all inhibitions, fears, and insecurities. I stood there and gave it everything I had. I knew I did my best, and with that alone, I felt that I had won.
The night before the pageant, every contestant was dreading the Q&A portion. Standing in the spotlight at Araneta Coliseum and on national television, dressed in a two-piece swimsuit, expected to think quickly and speak sensibly was no easy task. As with every other night, I read one chapter of my Bible before going to bed.
It so happened that that night I was on Exodus, Chapter 4, Verse 12 (Exo.4:12) reads, “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” I was overwhelmed. Right then and there, I knew that He was with me. Come pageant night, I lifted my eyes in prayer and dedicated the competition to Him. True enough, He carried me through. My prayer always was that His will be done in my life. I knew that any outcome was part of His perfect plan for me. Now I am excited to see where this will lead me.
I’ve learned from this experience that anything is possible with determination, hard work and prayer. I want my story to be an inspiration for Filipinos to believe the same. We are a very gifted and talented people. We can succeed as a nation if only we learn to believe in our own potential and unite to work towards a common goal.
Let us stop looking to others for salvation, but instead act within our capacity to contribute to the betterment of our country. So stand up and do something. Do not be afraid to try. Start that business you’ve been dreaming of. Stop corruption.
Restore your family. Encourage your children. Instill in them good morals and values. Recycle. Excel in every good thing that you do. There are many ways to contribute. Now is the time to act. Our country’s future is in our hands, if we would only try.