Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:36 AM April 06, 2014
Beauty queen maker Jonas Gaffud of Aces & Queens felt Pia Wurtzbach’s loss. He and his team have been responsible for helping prepare the frustrated beauty queen for almost two years now.
Like in past years, he left the Smart Araneta Coliseum even before the start of the crucial question-and-answer portion.
“I couldn’t take it. The suspense was killing me,” he said.
Gaffud would learn later on, through text messages, that Wurtzbach had lost to, among others, Mary Jean Lastimosa, a former protégé of his who had left Aces & Queens and joined Kagandahang Flores, a rival beauty camp.
“I was devastated because I knew how hard Pia had prepared,” he said. “But I wish MJ (Lastimosa) well. She deserves the crown. Since Aces was also part of her training, I would have also felt bad had she lost.”
Days before coronation night, Gaffud and Lastimosa patched up their differences at a party hosted by Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. for Miss Universe Gabriela Isler. Lastimosa surprised her former mentor by approaching him from behind. Before they knew it, almost everyone in the room was looking at them.
“I saw no need for apologies,” said Gaffud. “I told MJ, no matter what happens, I would always be proud of her. If she’s going to represent the country in Miss Universe, I told her that I would still want to be part of her journey. I also noticed how fresh she looked.”
Like Wurtzbach, Gaffud respected the judges’ decision. He also felt that she answered the question well, even if she chose to express herself in Filipino.
“She should be given credit for her decision to answer in Tagalog,” said Gaffud. “If I were one of the judges, I would appreciate the pride she put in making herself understood by majority of her countrymen.”
If ever Wurtzbach gives local beauty pageants another try, Gaffud won’t discourage her. But he’s also not too keen on encouraging her to join one later this year.
“I just don’t want her to get hurt,” he said. “If she fails again, the third time would be too much for anyone. I want the decision to come from her.”
As her manager, Gaffud, who runs talent and modeling agency Mercator, is also ready to support her should she resume her show-biz career or shift to commercial modeling.
“If she really wants to join Binibining Pilipinas again or any of the other local pageants, Aces would support her 100 percent,” said Gaffud.
Again, he denied insinuations allegedly made by certain detractors that Aces & Queens is charging wannabe beauty queens who come to them for training. The affairs of Mercator and Aces are separate and totally different.
“Our involvement in Aces is purely out of passion,” he said. “If these women should choose me to become their managers later on, then I would try to handle their careers to the best of my abilities as head of Mercator.”
Gaffud also announced the launching of a so-called beauty caravan to help aspiring beauty queens, especially those in the provinces, gain a healthier and better perspective of themselves.
“Beauty contests have become so popular in the country lately, but, let’s face it, not everyone will end up winning,” he said. “What would happen to those who don’t make it?”
Aces would still handle potential beauty queens in need of training. The beauty caravan is more of an advocacy for Gaffud and an online support group for young women.
Should he get invited to a provincial beauty contest, for instance, Gaffud plans to bring one or two of his successful protégés to give pep talks and seminars on makeup and grooming, fashion, women empowerment and even possible career opportunities.
Again, like what they do in Aces, Gaffud and his collaborators won’t be charging participants. But this time, they’re welcoming the help of both private and public sponsors.
“After years of helping hone beauty queens, I’ve come to realize that there’s more to beauty than just winning beauty contests,” he said. “I think it’s high time I take my passion and involvement to a higher level.” Alex Y. Vergara