"If you don't try, you'll never know."
Never in a million years would I ever think of doing a beauty pageant. I always thought it was pointless to be on stage in front of thousands of spectators judging how perfect you look, how perfect you act and simply how perfect you are because in reality, no one is really perfect. I always thought beauty pageants are these standardized things where you're judged by your looks, what you wear, what talent you have and how smart you are. I always thought a woman should never have to validate her inner and outer beauty by a scorecard. A woman should never have to prove she is beautiful and smart because a woman just is.
It all started in November when I decided to audition for Miss Rutgers-Newark. To be honest, the sole reason why I wanted to do Miss Philippines 2015 was to open my mind and to learn. I always believed in that saying, "If you never try, you'll never know." And so I tried. Surprisingly enough, no one else decided to audition after I went first. I was Miss Rutgers-Newark FSA by default. I don't think it was because the other girls were intimidated by what I did (because my talent wasn't at all impressive or intimidating), they just thought "she's a senior, let her have her turn." Whether it is for that reason or something else, I thank them because representing Rutgers-Newark FSA at Miss Philippines 2015 taught me a whole lot about myself and who I really am.
In the two months of preparation, not only did I build up excitement but I also built up my expectations for this one night. Before I knew it, I was trying on a dress, perfecting my walk, choosing songs, spending money, practicing my smile, reviewing for my possible question and answer and preparing for my talent and cultural portion. I didn't notice it then but now I realize that I was slowly and surely making this one night into a really big deal. And with making it into a big deal, I was making it into a bigger disappointment.
Miss Philippines 2015, as a beauty pageant, was not at all this life-altering, life-changing thing that I expected it to be. After the night of January 24th, 2015, I left Newark Symphony Hall with a heavy heart. I got home and I hung the "Best Dressed" sash on my door knob and the night seemed like a blur. I sat on my bed looking through social media and everyone seemed to have found the right words to express how they felt in that moment. I, however, didn't know how to put my feelings into words without sounding ungrateful for the experience and for the people that supported and helped me along the way. But my heart was heavy because the one night I spent weeks preparing for was finally over and I felt no different about myself. I felt no different about my previous views on beauty pageants. There was no grand, overwhelming rush of feelings within me. There was no sign that told me this one experience in my life would be one of the best. It was just an experience that happened. In fact, after Miss Philippines, I hung my dress, took off my make-up and I was happy to get back to my normal routine of school, work and internships.
If there are things I learned during this experience, it would probably be that I definitely have bigger and better goals in life. I don't want to sound like beauty pageants are beneath me. It's just simply not for me. I guess I look at this experience differently because I'm a senior on her last semester of college. I would rather fiercely catwalk my way to a diploma than a "Best Dressed" sash or a crown. I learned that some talents cannot be performed on stage. I learned that you don't need to be in the spotlight to really shine. I learned that pushing out of comfort zones can sometimes not teach you anything but you appreciate it anyway. Because hey, if I never try, I'll never know. But I did and now I know. Miss Philippines 2015 or beauty pageants in general is a once in five lifetimes kind of experience.
Don't get me wrong, in ten years, I may not reminisce back on Miss Philippines 2015 as one of the greatest nights of my life but I will always remember Miss Philippines 2015 as the path that lead me to meeting and appreciating some of the best people in my life. It is a place where I embraced the person I really am. And for that, I'm thankful.