“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey
By Sheila Mariano
AUCKLAND – In the Philippines we used to be pageant crazy and now over here our interest in pageants is starting to intensify again. Lately Filipinas – both young and old – are entering all sorts of beauty pageants in droves.
What is the attraction of a beauty pageant for contestants and the general public? Over the last 18 years we have written numerous articles about beauty pageants that were held in our neck of the woods and about international competitions in the ‘Chika Muna’ column in this newspaper. These stories and the professionally taken photographs of pageant contestants and winners are hugely popular with our readers – both young and old, male and female.
But the untold story is the impact of the pageant experience on the contestants after the excitement of winning the coveted crown and the antics of those who are – to put it bluntly – poor losers. We start a series on this topic in this edition and welcome your comments: filipinonews @xtra.co.nz).
Rewind to the October edition of the paper where we featured an article titled: ‘Allure of pageants on the rise again’. We spoke to the organiser and two Filipina contestants in the ‘original’ Mrs New Zealand Pageant 2017, which was held on 25th November at the Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland.
A Filipina, Wella Rangel Bernardo, 30, from Howick won the ‘Mrs People’s Choice Ambassador 2017’ title. Coincidentally, last year another Filipina, Shirley Maiquez Bath, 38, from Hamilton, won the same title; we featured her story in the newspaper.
Speaking to FMN before the Mrs New Zealand Pageant, Wella opened up about her journey and what she wanted to take away from the experience. At this stage in her life Wella is looking for greener pastures. She recently gave up a successful career in physiotherapy to join her husband’s thriving Granite benchtops company. At the same time she is on the look-out for new opportunities that might come her way.
When we asked why she joined the Mrs New Zealand pageant, Wella responded: “Because I believe that women deserve a second chance in life and I have been campaigning for a change of mindset in women. “It’s now time to walk the talk. I’ve never been confident, having been through a lot of tough times emotionally. So I thought this is the best time to test myself.
“Mrs New Zealand has given me an opportunity to share my experiences and encourage other women to take that leap of faith in themselves, to have more self-confidence, more self-esteem and learn how to love themselves regardless of age, size, status, race, culture, beliefs and principles in their lives.
“I want be a role model and set an example of what I strongly believe in and campaign for. One of the purposes in my life is to bring about good change to other people’s lives, to inspire, and motivate people especially women.
“To the future contestants of Mrs New Zealand here are some words of advice: See this as an opportunity to change your mindset for the better and because women have that loving, nurturing and motherly instinct, they often forget themselves. I’m here to remind you to love yourself.”
How did she present herself in the competition? “I designed my own gown and a well-known Filipino designer France Martirez made the gown for me. Being me, I’m always the outrageous one. I wanted something different to portray my personality.
“I also wanted New Zealanders to see a different side to Filipinos – that we can somehow blend conservatism with modern values. That’s basically what I tried to showcase.”
Wella adds that her husband Joel was very supportive of this adventure. “He was quite nervous about it though; he wanted me to lose more weight but I decided to stay in my own physique as I also wanted to represent other women who have the same size as me.”
This was Wella’s very first pageant. But why Mrs New Zealand, we probed? “I felt comfortable competing in a multicultural pageant because they have different definitions of beauty. By joining this pageant we showed audiences another aspect of being beautiful.”
The event attracted 200 pageant lovers. A third of the people who attended were Asian, a same number of Maoris and the rest were Pakehas and other nationalities.