A burst of sunshine amid political gloom …. A big boost to national pride …. She has made history and conquered the world.
Those were the reactions of Filipinos to the victory of Megan Lynne Young in the Miss World pageant held on Saturday night in Bali, Indonesia.
Others shed tears of happiness.
Glued to their TV sets to watch the pageant, Young’s closest friends at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales province erupted in cheers at her victory.
Malacañang said the 23-year-old beauty queen’s success was a big boost to Filipino pride.
“This is another Filipino who has shown the rest of the world what we can do as Filipinos, and another reason for us to be proud,” said Ricky Carandang, secretary of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office.
Past beauty queens and entertainment personalities rejoiced at Young’s triumph over more than 130 contestants, pointing out that her victory came amid political scandals that had rocked the nation.
Veteran filmmaker Joel Lamangan, who directed Young in the 2010 Cinemalaya film “Sigwa,” told the Inquirer: “Megan is like a burst of sunshine in the middle of our political storm.”
Lamangan also said: “She is an inspiration and gently reminds us that our situation is not entirely hopeless. Goodness, righteousness and the truth will conquer all the evil things that beset out society now.”
Good role model
Indie filmmaker Jason Paul Laxamana, who directed Young in the 2010 Cinema One film “Astro Mayabang,” said the victory was “a cause for celebration.”
“The country’s problems, however, should not be overshadowed by this good news. But neither should this great news be neglected as we confront our nation’s issues,” Laxamana said.
Actress and Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos agreed: “Finally, a bit of positive news for our countrymen…. I hope she will continue to inspire and be a good role model not only to Filipino women but to all Filipinos.”
Young’s victory gave the Philippines a winner in all major beauty pageants. The Philippines has won the Miss Universe title twice, Miss International four times, Miss Earth once and Miss Supranational, also once.
In a previous interview, Young talked candidly about her views on various topics, including the controversial reproductive health bill.
She told the Inquirer: “I am pro-RH. I believe reproductive health is an issue that should be kept between the married couple. No one else should meddle. In any case, if you don’t want to get pregnant, then you should simply abstain.”
At that time, she said she wasn’t optimistic about making it even in a local pageant because she had posed for a men’s magazine (Rogue) but defended that decision of hers.
“It is not the usual sexy men’s magazine. It also publishes political stories and literary works,” she said.
Country of beauties
Evangeline Pascual, who placed first runner-up in the Miss World pageant in 1973, said: “Cheers to Megan! I’m so proud that she’s now part of the Miss World family…. She is a woman with a clear purpose. She is cosmopolitan, knowledgeable and really cool.”
Until Young’s victory, Pascual’s first-runner-up finish was the closest the country ever got to the Miss World crown. In 1993, Ruffa Gutierrez placed second.
Pascual also said: “God has blessed the Philippines with beauty. Megan has promised to be the best Miss World. That requires radical generosity … and good work. But if we give ourselves to the Lord, all other (forms of) giving become easier.”
Gutierrez also expressed elation. “She (Young) has conquered the world and brought home the elusive blue crown. She has made Filipinos all over the world proud.”
Tears of joy
Precious Lara Quigaman, who won the Miss International crown in 2005, said she had been confident of Young’s chances since Day One.
“I knew she could make it in any international pageant she would join,” Quigaman said. “Like most Filipinos, I felt as if I also won. I cried when I watched the live streaming online.”
Quigaman also caught the delayed telecast of the pageant on GMA 7. “When I saw her crowned on TV, I cried again. When I saw footage in the news, I wept again. It’s about time we got that blue crown.”
At Subic port, Young’s closest friends were glued to the TV set to watch the pageant.
They burst into cheers when Young’s name was called, and partied until dawn Sunday in honor of their high school classmate. Young had dubbed their group “Chikas.”
Erin Tagudin, one of Young’s best friends, described her as “down to earth” and an ordinary girl who was “just one of us.”
Tagudin said the Chikas were batchmates at Regional Science High School III (Region 3) in East Kalayaan in Subic.
She said Young was born in Virginia in the United States, but her family migrated to Castillejos town in Zambales when she was in grade school.
Young’s relatives were ecstatic.
In a post on Facebook, Young’s aunt Myrna Caseja, an employee of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), said: “(We) wish to thank all of our relatives, friends and supporters who helped us in our journey to the blue crown.”
Zambales Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II said the province “admires her determination to achieve what she aims for, which should serve as an inspiration to all young Filipinas to make their dreams happen.”
Young’s was the typical ugly duckling story, friends said.
“She had curly hair then, had braces and would only stay in a corner, reading books, when I first met her,” Tagudin said. “She was one of the most introverted people I ever met.”
Tagudin said Young was “always a writer … . She wrote for the school newspaper, loves blogging and likes writing stories. She’s creative. She can use that, writing for films.”
Denise Velarmino, one of Young’s friends, said the new Miss World loved food and would document her gastronomic adventures in photographs.
Last week, it was Isabela province that honored another beauty titlist.
Miss Supranational 2013 Mutya Johanna Datul returned to her home province and the 20-year-old beauty’s first task was to give her prize money for the treatment of her hypertensive mother, Merly, and for the tuition of her brother and sister in the northern Isabela town of Santa Maria.
The Ibanag beauty is the first Asian to capture the pageant title in the competition held in Minsk, Belarus.
In the mainly Roman Catholic Philippines, Young’s victory was a cause for celebration, especially on social media.
“Feeling proud. The beauty of the Pinay has come out on top,” said one message on Twitter.—With reports from Gil C. Cabacungan in Manila; Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon; and AFP
Originally posted: 9:20 pm | Sunday, September 29th, 2013