Last weekend I spoke to the new batch of Miss Manila candidates for 2010 about my experience when I won the title in 2008. (Miss Manila is to be a good role model, act as an ambassador representing and embodying the Filipino culture.) I told them that joining was quite a challenge for me as I was very shy then, always hesitant in meeting new people and not a good public speaker at all. But that through the pageant I was able to challenge myself, push myself to see what I was really capable. Fortunately, I was able to win the title, giving me the best summer I've had yet. I got to meet a lot of prominent people in the GTA, be on tv, the radio, and be part of parades. I had a lot of really good exposure and not only that but I was actively taking part in the Filipino community, hopefully inspiring young girls my age.
Although, as a candidate one should not be there just for the crown, but for the experience. They should enjoy themselves and learn from one another. Win or not, getting through a pageant is an achievement too. It takes a lot of guts and courage to be out there showcasing your personality, intelligence, talent and grace while so many are observing you. In approaching this endeavour with an open mind, I guaranteed them that in the end there will be something they can learn from their experience, something that they can take with them.
After giving the candidates my speech/ pep talk I really couldn't help but reminisce about all the good times I had and how much it has changed me. This pageant has helped me grow and as cliche as it sounds, it helped me come out of my shell. The skills I've picked up and what I've learned about myself I put into practice to this day. I have come to the conclusion that all girls should have the experience of participating in a pageant at least once in their life. Issues of self esteem are always going to be around for generations, upon generations of girls to come but I truly think this is something that can help raise their esteem and self perception. This was also a bonding opportunity for my mom and I. She was there with me throughout all the events I attended, helping me and supporting me; we got a lot closer. I see joining a pageant as a time to shine and make wonderful memories and friends. Try something new girls! ;)