What made this Fil-Aussie so competitive
She arrived in a slinky black number and said hello with an accent that sounded somewhat Australian, but not quite.
Barely a week after besting 30 other aspirants in the 2018 Miss Manila, Kathleen Joy Paton, 20, gave an exclusive interview to Lifestyle.
Paton grew up in Aklan before they moved to Australia when she was 9.
She spoke Bisaya growing up, and this lent a unique flavor to her spoken English. “I still haven’t acquired the proper (Australian) accent,” she said.
It was also in Australia where she got bitten by the pageant bug. She joined the Miss Teen Asia Pacific contest and finished second. The winner was to represent Australia in the Miss Teen International tilt in Bangkok, Thailand.
The organizers, however, thought that Paton had what it takes to excel in the big league, so they decided to send her, too—but as representative of her mother’s native land. Since there’s no franchise holder of the tilt in the Philippines, Paton’s entry into the global
contest was smooth.
To prepare for the international stage, she came to the Philippines.
For two weeks, she underwent training with the Kagandahang Flores beauty camp of renowned beauty queen maker Rodgil Flores, who has produced a battalion of international titleholders, including Miss International winners Precious Lara Quigaman and Bea Rose Santiago.
“I learned how to walk like a beauty queen and I got tips for the question-and-answer round,” she said. Aklanon designers also lent her gowns and other pieces for her competition wardrobe.
In Bangkok, everything was a blur. Before she knew it, Paton was an international beauty queen.
“I never thought I would win. Before the announcement of the winner, I already received the Miss Charity award, so I thought that was it. I got a crown for that,” she said.
The experience fueled her hunger for competition, and she started to look for greater challenges.
“I knew I needed to do pageants in the Philippines. Pageants aren’t that big in Australia, not even the Miss Universe. So I want to do something more challenging. I’m quite competitive,” Paton said.
She’s putting off her studies in Australia for the meantime, where she had enrolled in a business course. She came to the Philippines with her mother, leaving behind her Australian father and three older sisters.
Paton has already signed up with Viva Artist Management.
“I knew I wanted to try Miss Manila because it’s challenging. While waiting to undergo workshops, I asked Viva if I could join. They said yes right away,” she said.
To prepare for her city pageant, she used an approach different from that of her international stint.
“I asked my supporters online to help me with the question-and-answer. I also practiced walking—a lot!” she said.
In Miss Manila 2018, Paton was the runaway winner, bagging many awards and topping even the crucial swimsuit competition.
What set her apart were her answers in the interview rounds, which were not only insightful, but also extemporaneous.
For the Top 15 interview, she was asked to choose between the elderly and the orphaned children as recipient if she were to give P1 million.
“I wanted to ask if I could just split the money between the two, but I knew that would be something that’s expected,” she said.
Instead, she chose the elderly, and gave quite a compelling argument, citing the things that seniors have contributed to society, especially to the younger generation.
“I based it on my family. I knew how hard my parents worked for us. And I can see how their needs have been changing as they grow older,” she said.
World War II
For the final round of questions, she cited World War II as the part of Manila’s history that she would have wanted to change.
“I knew people were expecting me to say that I wouldn’t want to change anything in the city’s past because all those things have made Manila what it is today,” she said. “But what I learned from my research opened my eyes to the devastation that the war brought, with Manila one of hardest hit. It was a totally unfortunate incident, and that was something I wished hadn’t happened, but it did.”
Paton believes her multicultural upbringing and exposure to the “good nature” of both the Philippines and Australia have enabled her to win her crowns.
“In the Philippines I learned love for family and resilience. We weren’t really well off back in Aklan. In Australia, I learned sensitivity and empathy, being around people who don’t look at you based on your weight, skin color or race,” she said.
And she hopes her Miss Manila crown would help her inspire people, not only the young ones, to become better.
The Miss Manila pageant is a project of the Mare Foundation, headed by Mayor Joseph Estrada’s daughter Jackie. “I hope to take part in the group’s projects that help empower women,” Paton said.
While fulfilling her duties as Miss Manila, she hopes to earn a business degree, “even online.” She also plans to immerse herself in the family’s resort business in Nabas, Aklan, where she will invest part of her winnings.
She bagged P500,000 from Miss Manila, half of which she already received in cash. She also won a P500,000 contract from Viva Artist Management.
She now has her eyes set on another international crown for the country.
“For Miss Manila, we had two weeks of hectic activities. I even competed sick in the finals. I heard Binibining Pilipinas is so much more challenging. I’m ready for that challenge!” she said.
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