Make Way For Moms!

Moms make history at Miss Universe Philippines 2023 –here’s what they have to say about paving the way for inclusivity.

For the first time in the history of Miss Universe Philippines, the pageant has opened its doors to mothers as contestants.

This year, the opportunity was heeded by Eileen Gonzales (Quezon City), Clare Dacanay (Parañaque), and Joemay Leo (Benguet) breaking barriers and inspiring women everywhere to pursue their dreams.

For Clare and Joemay, the motivation to show up and inspire is fueled by the little women in their lives –their daughters. “It’s really fulfilling,” Clare shares, ”I want to teach my daughter… you have to be proud of yourself for yourself.” And Joemay echoes this sentiment wanting her daughter to one day realize, “Si Mama ko, kinaya niya,” and follow her footsteps in reaching her own aspirations in life.

But not everyone is amiable to this kind of progress. “We’re actually being someone we want to be,” Clare reflects, “and I think that’s what makes them irritated… We’re not following the social norm, we’re going beyond the norm.”

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Eileen points out that they are bashed as much as they are celebrated. After all, the common misconception is that moms are meant for the home. Period. “Mayroong stigma when it comes to being a [mom], kaya tayo nandito –to break that mindset.” And break that mindset she does; granting an unapologetic side-eye to the naysayers while continuing to press on.

As Joemay describes it, pursuing Miss Universe Philippines is a job. Behind the glitz and glamour is a similar grind we find any working mother would be familiar with: long hours, deadlines, and physical exhaustion, all while balancing their family responsibilities. But these ladies anchor each other, “Andito ka na, ilaban mo na ‘to.” Eileen playfully quips.

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“We went through the hardest thing in life which is giving birth, having a baby,” shares Clare. Emotional and mental sacrifice is nothing new to them. “It’s not always gonna be perfect but just keep enjoying. Look at the brighter picture.”

These women are not only breaking stereotypes, but they are living proof that motherhood is not the end of dreams. Any woman can pursue their passions as long as they don’t give up on themselves. They are using their platform to promote self-love, body positivity, and the importance of chasing your dreams.

In a society that often puts limitations on women, these three mothers are proving that the only limit to what we can achieve is the one we set for ourselves. They are an inspiration to us all and a true testament to the power of determination, perseverance, and self-belief. We wish them all the best as they represent the strength and beauty of motherhood on the Miss Universe Philippines stage.

As they proudly proclaim, they are not just mothers – they are women who are capable of achieving anything they want.