She took a tumble twice on stage but Tracy Maureen Perez still stood tall after winning the Miss World Philippines crown on Monday, just days after her fellow Cebuana Beatrice Luigi Gomez took home the Miss Universe Philippines title.
During the competition that lasted over five hours, Perez tumbled from the platform where the remaining finalists were waiting for winners to be proclaimed. She fell a second time while doing her victory walk.
Unruffled, Perez picked up her crown from the floor, resumed her walk and after the program, even gamely answered questions from the media.
Asked what issue she would like to focus on aside from her advocacy, Perez noted the “bashing” the country’s titleholders had been getting, “not because of their performance, but because of who they are and who they want to be.”
She observed how Gomez had been getting “negative messages” for being openly gay and said: “I think that we should take more time to be more understanding and to be more accepting, because we are already in a world where times are changing.”
“Take the time to really love, and not really see the person for their mistakes, their faults, but really understand where they’re coming from,” she said.
Gomez became the first member of the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) community to clinch the Miss Universe Philippines title on Sept. 30. She will represent the country in the 70th Miss Universe pageant in Israel in December.
Perez, for her part, will join the 70th Miss World pageant in Puerto Rico on Dec. 16.
The 28-year-old industrial engineer who earned her degree from the University of San Carlos in Cebu City told the Inquirer that she would use her win to expand her work helping solo parents. Originally from Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, Perez was raised single-handedly by her mother, Chona, a Binibining Cebu finalist who was once one of Cebu’s Five Prettiest.
“I am connected with a solo parents group in my community in Cebu, and we are doing projects for them, mostly for their livelihood,” she said. “During the pandemic, most of them lost their jobs, a lot of them are not getting the opportunities that they need to sustain their families. With the Miss World platform, I’m sure that I can help all the communities that I will be able to connect with.”
During the question-and-answer portion, Perez was asked: “After we go through this pandemic, what would you want us to learn from it?”
“I hope that we never take for granted the family we have, taking care of our health, and taking care of the people that protect us, our leaders, our front-liners. We should always give importance to those people. We may not see the efforts that they give out but most definitely, they are our modern heroes and for that, we should always be grateful. We should always stick with them and pray for them,” she replied.
Along with the crown, Perez won P500,000 in cash, a P2- million management contract from ALV Productions and a P500,000 movie deal.
Other winners were Miss Eco International Kathleen Paton from Aklan, Reina Hispanoamericana Filipinas Emmanuelle Vera from Taguig City, Miss Environment Philippines Michelle Arceo from Quezon City, Miss Tourism Philippines Trisha Martinez from Laguna, Miss Multinational Philippines Shaila Rebortera from Talisay City, and Miss Eco Teen Philippines Tatyana Austria from Parañaque City.
Riana Pangindian from Pasig City and broadcaster Ganiel Krishnan from Cavite were named first and second princesses, respectively.
No contest was held in 2020 because of government-imposed restrictions on live events.
This year’s competition was called off several times due to changing quarantine restrictions before it pushed through on Sunday night at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center in Subic Bay Freeport.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Administrator Wilma Eisma told the Inquirer earlier that the pageant was allowed because of the organizer’s assurance that COVID-19 protocols set by the government would be followed strictly.
But inside the venue, several guests, particularly those in the VIP section, were observed to be without masks and ignoring social distancing rules.