A great deal of weight was riding on beauty queen Shamcey Supsup’s shoulders the night she competed with 88 of the world’s most beautiful women in the recent Miss Universe beauty pageant in Brazil.
Apart from carrying the hopes of a beauty contest-crazy nation thirsty for a third Miss Universe title after a 38-year drought, Shamcey, who ended up third runner-up to Angola’s Leila Lopes, had her taskmaster of a mother to probably think of.
Wearing a body-hugging red, white and black mini and a pair of black peep-toe platforms to the Inquirer offices one recent afternoon, a coiffed and fully made-up Shamcey looked every inch the slim, bubbly looker with the megawatt smile that she was on global TV.
The undone nails, however, instantly betrayed her humble, no-nonsense beginnings. She’s still the simple person she once was, Shamcey insisted.
She admitted—without even once mentioning his name—that she and model-turned-businessman Lloyd Lee are dating, but she merely smiled and declined to answer follow-up questions.
This magna cum laude used to have more important things to do after finishing architecture at the University of the Philippines and topping the licensure exams last year.
Shamcey’s mother, who has been working abroad, has also been, over the years, a Pygmalion of sorts who always saw the best in her daughter even if she herself couldn’t, and that most likely included her potential to become a global beauty queen.
For someone who didn’t know how to put on makeup, let alone strut onstage in high heels, Shamcey knew it wouldn’t be easy. Today, her trademark walk has been dubbed the “tsunami.”
Like her coaches on the ramp, her makeup artist-cum-teacher nearly gave up on her. But instead of getting discouraged, such initial setbacks strengthened her resolve to do it right. She even had to modify her high-carb diet, which used to consist of two cups of rice per meal.
Thanks to Shamcey and predecessor Venus Raj, who also finished in a major, major way in last year Miss Universe, the Philippines is slowly regaining its reputation as a powerhouse in the international “beau con” scene.
You can bring on the Latinas—but it only takes a single round of the global Pinay’s tsunami walk to bring them to their knees. Alex Y. Vergara
Have you always been this slender?
I’m really like this.
But you don’t eat a lot?
I eat rice all the time. I had to gain muscles. I had no form. So I had to eat meat, protein. I don’t do cardio. I do weights.
When I won Binibining Pilipinas I was 105, 108 lbs. They wanted me to reach 115 or 120. Ang program ko sa gym, no cardio, bodybuilding, weights. They had me eat meat, milk, eggs. By the time I left I was able to reach 115, 116.
For the record, who was the nicest candidate?
Miss Guam. Actually, the Asian candidates—Miss Guam, Miss Korea. Si Miss Guam mukha talagang Pilipina! Whenever I see her, nata-Tagalog ko siya. She’s really nice, siya nga binoto ko sa Miss Congeniality.
Sino ’yong medyo competition mode?
Parang detached kasi ako, ’yong mga gusto ko, kasama ko palagi. Si Miss Guam, Miss Korea, New Zealand, Singapore. ’Yong mga Latina kasi, Spanish kasi sila. Sometimes, nasa isang table kami, tapos mag-Spanish sila, kaming dalawa ni Korea sabi namin, let’s not sit with the Latinas anymore. Wala kaming maintindihan.
Did you expect to go that far?
No. Kasi there were a lot of beautiful candidates talaga. Nakakatuwa lang, kasi ’di ba you see them on paper lang. And they have photos on the voting sa website.
Looking back, would you have answered the same?
Yes, of course. My mom would always tell me, in all relationships, it should be centered on God first. Seek Him first, before anything else.
But don’t we have different names for just one God?
Could be. But we all have different beliefs and I don’t condemn that. It’s just that, since I believe in the teachings of the Bible, you have to let people know about it. And, hopefully, they would convert and believe, too.
If worse comes to worst, you would leave him, kung ayaw niya?
But a lot of people have done stupid things because of love. Abandoning everything. What would you do if that happens to you?
Sabi nga, we love because He first loved us. Without Him, we wouldn’t have love.
So noong kino-compose mo ’yon, how was that?
Actually, hindi ako nag-“compose.” Ako kasi, I did my part, and I respect the results, and I accept it, and I’m just happy. I’m happy with everything that’s happened. Wala akong hard feelings. Kasi lahat naman ng nangyayari may purpose.
What do you feel about Filipinos who got mad with Miss Angola because they felt you should have won?
Of course, on one side, you appreciate ’yong effort nila, support nila. On the other hand, there’s a time na, okay lang ’yan, hindi tayo masaya, pero when we get to think things over, okay na, tanggapin na, move on.
I must credit your stylist during the contest, because you looked different from when you were in Bb. Pilipinas. Who was responsible for that look?
For the everyday look, ako. I can’t do curls every day kasi hectic ’yong schedule, so sometimes I go straight, pero during the final night, I had my hair done.
How did you explain ’yong gusto mong buhok, may kakilala ka?
No, wala. Kung sino matapat sa ’yo, and during that time she was a Pakistani.
Are you happy with what she did?
Yes, yes. I just showed her a picture na gusto kong gayahin, sabi ko I want this kind of hair. Picture ko rin.
Your mom said you’re not a fashionista, have you learned since you won?
Siguro po, a bit. Now I’m much more comfortable in trying new things. Before, I didn’t want to. I never wore dresses, always wore jeans and shirt. Even blouses—I didn’t wear blouses.
How about your makeup? Do you do your own makeup?
It looks very muted. Kasi ’di ba Bb. Pilipinas has a template for makeup.
Now kasi it’s day naman. Binabagay ko siya sa event. Kasi the makeup we did even during the Miss Universe, it’s for stage. And it’s really dark kasi with all the lights, mawa-wash out. Kung ginawa ko ’yong makeup ko now noong sa Miss Universe, it would be really dark for this kind of setting. Pero doon sa Miss Universe it was okay because it was onstage.
I noticed other candidates ang kapal ng makeup, sa ’yo mas maayos.
Ako gumawa ng makeup ko. Finals night, pati preliminary.
Can you do your hair now?
Hair, mahirap. ’Pag straight. Pero ’pag curls, mahirap to see at the back.
Take us behind the scenes. What happened after finals night, may umiyak ba, may nagwala?
Wala akong napansin because right after, I had to dress up, pack my things, and load them on the bus. Then we had to go to the after-party, then go back to the hotel, get your things, and then whoever wants to go to the next party would go, and the bus would leave at 2:30 a.m.
Who was the first to text you?
Actually I saw my mom after. She watched.
But your boyfriend texted you after?
I don’t remember. Kasi I had to change SIMs pa noon, I had to call my mom using my old SIM. Gulo-gulo na nga e.
How do you describe Miss Angola?
Iba kasi group niya e.
Sino groupies niya?
Sila Brazil, Miss Portugal, sila magkakasama. Nakasama ko lang siya once noong nag-practice kami for the evening gown production number. Magka-table kasi kami. So ’yon, okay naman siya, tahimik lang. Matalino. I think she studied talaga college in UK.
Who were you closest to?
In real life who is your best friend?
A college friend. Architect din. Actually hindi lang best friend, parang barkada.
You have plans of continuing architecture?
Of course. I’m still doing architecture.
I don’t think so.
But you said you’re willing to host a show.
If there’s something I’d like to do.
What was your motivation for competing?
Every time kahit sa training noon, laging sinasabi sa akin, like si John [her trainer], para ’to sa mga Pilipino, nagte-text para sa ’yo, hindi natutulog, bumoboto. Or ’yong mommy ko, sila pumunta dito para panoorin ka. Maraming Pilipino pumunta na hindi namin kilala. So ’yon ang motivation ko.
Was this something you wanted to do even as a child?
So when did you get the idea?
Last year. Because of my mom talaga. I loved watching pageants but I never wanted to join. Kasi that time, hindi ko pa alam kung anong gusto kong gawin kasi katatapos ko lang mag-board exams. I was applying for scholarships, gusto ko talaga mag-aral pa. But I was having a hard time looking for a scholarship. Si mommy, sabi niya she wasn’t going to pay anymore if I wanted to study. I have to look daw for funds. Pero I worked, and during that time sobrang busy ko na, I didn’t have time to look for a course. So sabi ni mom ko, ito na lang: You’re going to resign, I’m going to give you an allowance, you can process your scholarship forms, and pwede mo na i-process documents mo. Pero sumali ka nang Bb. Pilipinas.
Alam mong hihirit siya nang ganoon?
Matagal na talaga siyang nangungulit. Dati, ayaw ko talaga. Pero noong time na ’yon, it was a good offer. Ang dami ko rin kasing inaasikaso that I really wanted. And that time she was going to give me an allowance, I didn’t have to go to work, so why not. I was having a hard time na with work kasi malayo. I didn’t have time to do other things because of my job. So I resigned.
Bb. Pilipinas was your first contest?
Yes, not counting the one in Grade 6, Miss Intramurals. Blackmail ’yon ng teacher ko kaya ako sumali.
How many are you in the family?
I’m an only child. When I joined, I didn’t tell anyone. I just told six friends. It was a challenge.
Did you feel extra pressure because Venus placed the year before?
A bit. Pero sabi ko naman, swerte-swertihan lang din. Kasi we’re 89, and anybody could win. Kahit sa Top 16 lang—think of percentage: 16 out of 89, how much percent is that? It’s small.
Since you know she kind of messed up during the interview, were you extra careful?
I don’t think she messed up. I think people had a different perspective on her answer.
How would you answer it?
I’ve said my greatest mistake is being afraid to make one.
Are you investing what you won?
There’s no cash prize.
Are you being paid for endorsements, or sa Bb. Pilipinas ito?
There’s a percentage. Actually my prize as a winner for Bb. Pilipinas is a contract management for 18 months. Everything goes through Bb. Pilipinas.
Has anyone ever teased you about your name?
When I was a kid, always. Kasi Bisaya kami, and it really means that. But when I got into high school, college, wala na. Lalo na noong college, parang I got used to it. Parang ako na lang natatawa sa kanila ’pag natatawa sila. At saka inuunahan ko na sila.
Is Supsup really from your province?
No it came from Ilocanos. Kasi a lot of Ilocanos explored new lands.
Miss Universe Jimena Navarrette said you looked Latina. Where did you get your features?
’Yong lolo ko kasi sa side ng mom ko, if you see his picture, may resemblance sa akin. Matangos ilong, maitim. Actually mga pinsan ko mukhang Indian. Pero wala, we’re Filipinos.
What are three things people don’t know about you?
First is that I eat a lot. Minsan nagwa-one cup na lang ako. Pero one cup, five times a day, ganoon.
So, rice for merienda?
Of course, lalo na dati sa construction. Kasi kami ang ginagawa namin, ’pag break, 4 p.m., pupunta kaming canteen, magpapaluto ng pancit canton na sobrang dami, tapos kanin. Every day ’yan. Minsan naman bibili kaming sardinas, tapos egg.
What’s your favorite food?
Madami e. Basta ulam. Pero konti lang ako mag-ulam, more on rice kasi. Sa Brazil, nahiya ako, kasi lahat sila ang kinakain, isang plate na puro greens lang. Nakakahiya kung ikaw naman puro kanin. Buti na lang si Miss Korea, pareho kaming hindi masyadong kumakain ng salad. So kami, konti lang ’yong greens sa plate, kasi we would go directly to the food na main course, tapos lahat tinitikman namin.
Buffet. Tapos lagi kaming nago-order, kasi they had these desserts made for us lang talaga, so may cakes, ice cream. Pero during that time, I had to eat meat talaga.
Do you drink?
Water lang. That’ always what I drink kasi sa construction site. I’m a site architect. My main office was at the site. Plywood lang, ganun ’yong office ko. I was in jeans, rubber shoes, pero if you have to go to the site, safety boots. We had this top na parang polo, and then hard hat.
Do you see yourself doing that again now that you’re a beauty queen?
Siguro not as an employee, but in my own firm.
Were you ever treated differently, since you’re a girl and you’re beautiful?
Actually, they didn’t see me as that, they just saw me as a girl. Hindi kasi ako nag-aayos. Siyempre ako ’yong baby kasi ako ’yong girl. Pero ’yong trabaho, walang pinipili. ’Pag trabaho, trabaho. May time na umaakyat ako ng scaffolding, nagche-check ng mga bakal kasi ako ’yong taga-check. Tapos kung anu-ano na, kung saan-saan na ako sumuot, pag-uwi ko ng bahay puro na dust ’yong uniform ko. So lahat ’yon—umakyat na ako ng bubong. Dati nga gusto kong umakyat sa pinakataas kaso ’di ako pinayagan, kaso delikado raw. Kasi parang ilang story ’yon, 40.
I worked for three firms pero ’yong longest ko, in project management, was DCI, Design Coordinates Inc.
How is your schedule like?
Humihingi ako ng isa pang rest day, kahit isa lang.
Nakauwi ka na ba sa GenSan?
One day lang, then the next day, alis.
So you’re still going back to grad school?
Waiting for the right timing. Kasi ’yong entry ko is for September 2011, tapos na. I wrote to them, asking if I could defer it. Hindi na raw pwede.
What school is this?
Cardiff University in the UK. Now I want to try a different school. Si mommy kasi mataas ang standards, gusto raw niya mas mahirap na school.
What is there to study after topping the board?
There’s so much more to study. Sabi ko nga, if I had time, kung pwede, kahit walang kinalaman sa architecture—anthropology, philosophy. Sabi nga ng mga kaibigan ko, ayan ka na naman Shamcey, lahat kina-career mo. Ako naman kasi, ganoon ako. I don’t want to do something tapos hindi ko siya aayusin. Kung ganoon lang din, ’wag na lang. Once I put myself into something, kailangan I do my best. Sabi ko talaga sa mommy ko, kung sasali ako dito, kailangan ayusin ko. Kailangan mag-training talaga ako.
Anong ginawa mo na hindi mo ginagawa noong araw, noong nagpe-prepare ka na sa contest?
I had to learn makeup, first time. The first time I wore heels, during training, first five minutes nag-cramps ako. Mababa lang ’yon. Sabi nila wala raw akong muscles sa paa. Kasi hindi ako nag-e-exercise. Hindi raw na-develop muscles ko, so kailangan ko mag-leg exercise, kailangan ko mag-practice na naka-heels, so may isang time pinag-squat ako ng ilang oras, grabe talaga pawis ko. Kasi nag-give up na rin sila. Siyempre napahiya ako na hindi ako marunong, so sabi ko aaralin ko talaga ’to. I watched mga shows, fashion shows, practice-practice ako sa bahay sa mirror.
Paano ka natuto mag-makeup?
Actually nag-give up na rin sa akin ’yong nagtuturo. Noong una sabi niya sa akin, hindi na raw talaga ako matututo. Kasi naka-ilang apply ako. Tapos may time na nasugat na dito ko (points to eye) sa kakabura. Every time mali, buburahin.
Did you get mentoring or coaching in answering questions?
Yes, we had sessions with past beauty queens, they would tell me their experiences. Sa akin kasi, it’s more of reading. I love to read. So I would ask my friends, send me naman articles to read. During the pageant kasi it’s more of knowing yourself.
Isn’t it nerve-wracking to parade in a bathing suit na ganoon ka-skimpy?
Of course. But nasanay na yata kami noon, kasi practice kami every day.
When you go to the beach, do you really wear swimsuit?
No. It was my first time to wear one. Usually shorts and T-shirt on the beach. Dati nga pants pa e.
Sabi nila ’yong ibang contestants from other countries, they really have surgical makeover.
I think everyone has her own preferences naman. If they think through that, they will feel more beautiful and confident, then why not? For me, comfortable na ako sa binigay sa akin. Ako, every time nagdududa sila na fake nose ko, ibig sabihin maganda.
So napagdudahan ka?
Oo, kasi medyo tabingi raw. Rhinoplasty gone wrong! Sabi ko hindi talaga, ganyan talaga siya.
Is your boyfriend also an architect?
Ang sinasabi nila ’pag sumisikat ang beauty queen, first casualty is the boyfriend. Aren’t you worried? Or isn’t your boyfriend worried?
Like what I said, everything that’s happening now is not permanent. It’s part of my journey, and this, too, shall pass. But what will remain are my family, friends and relationships, and that’s what I’m keeping.
How long have you been on with your boyfriend?
Wala na lang pong ganoon, kasi private. Very private.
O sige—aside from you, sino choice ng boyfriend mo na manalo?
I don’t know kasi his eyes were on me! He didn’t say anything naman.
What attracts you to a man?
It’s more of how he deals with his family, and how he deals with my family. It’s important to me. In the end you’re going to be family. So dapat, you know how he treats his own family now, cause you know in the future that’s how he’s going to treat your family.
What’s your physical type?
Ako, wala. I’m not into physical attributes. It’s more of the personality, gusto ko someone I can talk to for hours without getting bored.
I noticed a hint of tampo from your dad. Hindi raw niya alam na may boyfriend ka until the competition.
Actually nobody knew, just my mom. Kasi during that time I had to leave for Brazil.
So bago pa lang, noong contest sa Philippines, kayo na?
How did your parents raise you to make you so driven? Strict ba sila?
When I was a kid, I grew up with my dad. Si mommy was abroad, working. May pagka-old-fashioned and conservative sa side ng dad ko. My dad and his sister, parang siya ’yong mommy ko noong wala ang mommy ko. Marami silang rules sa bahay that you always had to follow, and then my mom, she’s strict regarding my studies. She would come home every two years. But even when she was abroad, she would call me and ask what my grade was, or rank. She was really strict. Whenever I’d get a lower grade than what she wanted… There was a time in Grade 3 or 2, I was telling her the good news that I was third honor. Sabi niya, bakit third honor ka lang, mas matalino ba first honor sa ’yo? Bakit ’di ka nag-aral pa? Lagi kong naaalala ’yon, nagagalit siya, na nagwo-work siya sa abroad, hirap na hirap.
Anong trabaho ng mommy mo?
Civil engineer. So very strict siya. Dad ko naman, when it comes to studies, basta pasa, okay lang siya.
Siya ’yong kakampi ko ’pag gusto ko maglaro, sasabihin niya, sige laro ka na, kunwari nag-aral ka na. Pero mommy ko talaga sobrang strict.
When did she come back?
Were you spoiled as an only child?
People think that as an only child, you’re spoiled. If you only knew—during college, I got my personal computer only when I was in fifth year. My mom wouldn’t get me one. Sabi niya may library naman. Sometimes I would go to my friend’s house to type, or sa Internet shop. I had to double my efforts. I had to wake up early, go to the Internet shop, print.
Ako raw, I was very lucky, hindi ko pinoproblema kakainin ko, hindi ko problema kung saan ako titira, problema ko computer lang. Siya lahat daw pinroblema niya. Galing kasi siya sa hirap. Problema raw niya kung may kakainin pa siya mamaya.
Did you resent it?
Hindi, kasi after that parang ang dali-dali na. Noong binigay niya sa akin ’yong computer, ok na. Na-realize ko na kaya rin naman palang wala. Kailangan ko lang kasi noong may thesis na. It wasn’t laptop pa, desktop. Pero now, parang ngayon na sila nag-ii-spoil. Like they would buy me laptop na when I was working. I was kuripot rin kasi. There was a time na pinagalitan nila ako kasi nalaman nila na during lunch, sobra kong tipid. Ang ino-order ko lang, isang rice tapos sabaw. Kasi magkano lang ’yon, P6? Tapos free naman ’yong sabaw, tapos hingi ka lang ng tubig.
So anong binibili mo ngayon?
Actually, wala. Na-realize ko ngayong tumanda ako na mag-iipon ako. Ang gusto ko kasi, lagi akong handa. Like kung kailangan namin ng pera, saan kami kukuha?
But you weren’t poor.
There was a time… Lately lang na medyo okay. Because my mom is helping her family. She wants them to all go to school, kasi in her family she was the only one who was really able to graduate. And she feels that she owes a lot to her family. Sabi niya sa akin, she knows how it feels to be in that position. That’s why she’s helping them. I have to share raw.
Your family owns the land?
Yes. Mana sa dad ko.
What is your experience in farming?
Ah, sa farming masaya. My fondest memory is we have these coconut trees, sinusungkit ’yon tapos nilalagay sa kariton. Doon sa place ng lolo ko, doon namin binabalatan, binibiyak, tapos ’di ba ’yong kinakain na matamis, lahat ’yon hinahanapan ko. Sumasakit tiyan ko ’pag nasobrahan. Pero ’pag sa corn or palay, hindi ako pinapasama kasi nakakasugat siya, makati e. Before, meron kaming parang maliit na fish pond, tinanggal ’yong water tapos nag-swimming talaga ako kasama ’yong tilapia. Pero nakakasugat pala siya.
Did you consider taking up agriculture growing up?
Hindi ko naisip, kasi ang hirap ng buhay sa bukid. Palagi kang nasa initan ng araw. Nakita ko papa ko, hands-on talaga siya, nakita ko palagi siyang pawis. Basta parang hindi ko talaga pinangarap. Nakikita ko si mommy noon tapos naisip ko, parang mas masaya ’to.
How did you find President Aquino when you met him?
I met him twice, one was a courtesy call in GenSan, and then I met him again before he left sa airport. He congratulated me lang, he was a bit silent. I think he was really tired. Kumbaga kung hectic ako, mas hectic schedule niya. His days are packed, ang dami niyang kailangan harapin. Buti nga nakakalakad pa siya. Kung ako ’yon, ang hirap. Sabi ko nga ’yon ang pinakamahirap na job in the world, to be the president. ’Cause people would always expect you to have solutions to all the country’s problems, which is not the case. He’s only one man. It’s supposed to be teamwork.
Did you vote for him?
I have my right to remain silent. (Laughter)
Friends mo sa Facebook, dumami na ba?
Actually dalawa na accounts ko. ’Yong isa hindi na makapag-add. Tapos ’yong isa, never na ako nag-a-add, intact na lang ’yon. ’Yong isa, hanggang 5,000 pala, so puno na. Twitter na lang ako.
What’s the best thing about this?
The best thing about everything is that I am now reaching most of my dreams through this. I never thought before… parang imposible, pero na-fast forward. Like the scholarship, so many are offering. And then, I want to teach. Pero noon I wanted later pa. Ngayon ’yong dean ng college is offering na. Kami kasi ng friends ko lagi kaming nag-uusap like what we want to do for the country, for architecture, tapos parang imposible naman, walang makikinig sa akin. Ako kasi idealistic ako, madami akong principles na sinasabi nila in real life, it’s not going to happen. Masyado raw akong closed sa ideas ko. Now I’m able to say what’s on my mind. All of our ridiculous ramblings are being put into action.
Dati hanggang usap-usap lang kami. Now, people are aware of tropical architecture, na dati parang kami-kami lang nakakaalam kung ano ’yon, ’yong mga ganoon. Sabi ko nga sa kanila, I need help. And I still have a lot to learn, especially sa architecture, especially sa planning. Ginagamit ko lahat ng opportunities na binibigay sa akin to improve myself in every way. I didn’t think that through a beauty pageant, it could come to this.
Six things you didn’t know about Shamcey
She had to eat more meat to gain weight for the Miss Universe pageant, even if…
She eats like a stevedore—lots of rice, and even rice and pancit for merienda!
She isn’t really used to wearing bathing suits—“shorts and T-shirt lang nga, kung minsan pants pa.”
Her makeup teacher almost gave up on her because “hindi na ako natuto talaga.”
She has been accepted into Cardiff University in the UK for graduate school—but her entry has had to be deferred.
She didn’t have a boyfriend when she won Bb. Pilipinas—but she did when she placed in the Miss Universe pageant.