It’s always exciting to get new things, watch new movies, and meet new faces; and in pageantry, the same enthusiasm comes into play. We’re often thrilled to see new ladies walking the runways every year… but what if the people we’re seeing are people we’ve met before?
This year, Michelle Dee (Makati), Emmanuelle Vera (Cebu Province), Pauline Amelinckx (Bohol), Samantha Panlilio (Cavite) and Klyza Castro (Davao Oriental) join Miss Universe Philippines as pageantry veterans — a label they are proud to be called themselves.
Some fans may prefer to bank on experience and send them out to compete, but there is still quite a lot of social stigma surrounding candidates who rejoin pageants. People call them recycled queens or crown-chasers, seemingly forgetting that there are also human beings at the receiving end. “If you really think about it, it takes a while for people to really hit their stride,” Emmanuelle shares. “Like as actresses, nobody is good off the bat on their first teleserye. You can see them evolve over teleseryes.” This growth takes more than just skill development, but also healing, Samantha adds. “I don’t think people realize that there is a lot of healing that needs to be had before you join the next one, and it really takes will and guts to join again.” Indeed, there is courage and strength needed to stand in the same shoes.
Pageantry is beautiful, but the pressure it puts on a person is unknown to many. “We’re not only pressuring ourselves but so many people around us, our viewers, they expect so much of us,” Michelle reveals. There is always that pressure to show something new and reinvent themselves yet still be authentic, a feat that they agree continues to be a challenge for them.
Adding to the weight of social pressure is the sting of social commentary, or bashing, which is prevalent in the social media landscape. “Somehow it cultivates a kind of culture where they pit girls against each other,” Pauline bluntly points out. “It’s like we’re really their manok in some way.” Yet opposite to this culture, these ladies exude genuine friendship and concern for each other. They recognize the trust that exists among them, bond over their mutual refusal to be called ates (big sisters), and laugh over previous experiences with online pageantry (a.k.a. crappy internet connections and lagging video calls that lead to hilarious frozen images).
In this note, Klyza reminds everyone to be kind. “It takes months and years of planning just to be here; not naman appreciation but just kinder words,” she says, as everyone also adds that they are not the only ones affected by hurtful comments — their teams are affected too. It takes a village, so they say, which is worth remembering the next time you get the urge to become a candidate-bashing keyboard warrior.
Towards the end, they talk about their possible disappointments, which produces a unanimous answer: the failure to become better than their past selves. There is a shared desire to be better, a recognition of growth and of things to improve on, which reveals a kind of inner beauty that never settles for the not-so-best version of itself.
And yes, may we all never settle for less, as these beautiful, capable, veteran pageant queens inspire us to do.
PRODUCED BY: Michelle Dee | Emmanuelle Vera | Pauline Amelinckx
Samantha Panlilio | Klyza Castro | Ica Imanuelle Macazo
CREATIVE PRODUCER: Nathan Vargas
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Ica Imanuelle Macazo | Rexy Jolly Conopio
PHOTOGRAPHER: Rap Yu