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When it feels like the challenges of the Universe weigh them down, these queens hold their head up high and wear their struggles like a crown.

Everyone struggles with something. Some would wear the scars proudly on our sleeves, ever so proud of how far they’ve have come — but others would walk among us without a word, silently fighting the battles they wouldn’t dare tell anyone about.

There is still a certain air of shame when it comes to vulnerability, but Miss Universe Philippines delegates Angelique Manto (Pampanga), Nikki Silva Breedveld (Taguig), and Jannarie Zarzoso (Agusan del Norte) show us that there is a beautiful kind of strength in recognizing our weaknesses.

Angelique shares that it has been difficult for her to be open about her own struggles, echoing the sentiments of many who struggle with mental health issues. Nevertheless, she continues to do it because she sees it as an opportunity to engage others who are experiencing the same thing. “With that, we empathize not just with other people but also with ourselves.”

Nikki supports Angelique strongly in this, being a lupus warrior herself. “I’ve learned in this pageant that the bravest thing you can be is vulnerable,” she says. That openness exudes both bravery and empathy, and gives other people the strength to ask for help. “I know that coming here to the Miss

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Universe platform is a brave thing for us to do, because not everybody is brave enough to actually share their stories,” Jannarie adds, to which we wholeheartedly agree. Dealing with psoriasis takes a toll on a person physically, mentally, and emotionally, and it takes heart to talk openly about something you’re struggling with, especially as the whole country carefully watches.

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We then find out Nikki’s most recent brush with her own struggle: she shares being in the hospital before the pageant screening and living everyday with the fear of not making it to coronation. She thinks back to those struggling with their mental health who want to help others while facing their own fears.

People hide their struggles in fear of hurting the people they love, and this is where Jannarie gets emotional as she remembers her family. “The struggle was opening up towards my family, and the fact that I did not tell them I was struggling was what hurt them the most.” It is a heartfelt reminder to appreciate our families and friends who love us despite our own weaknesses.

In the end, even as we all struggle, we need to be kind to ourselves. “It does not have to be such a grand act to show up for yourself,” Angelique bluntly reminds us — and rightly so. We also must be kind to others, because never know the unseen battles people are fighting.

It is a wonderful thing to hear these women use their struggles as a platform for change. In them we see how our weaknesses can amplify our voices and enable us to positively impact our respective communities.

Beauty queens are usually known for their beauty, grace, and poise, but after this moment with these three strong women, courageous vulnerability is one thing definitely worth adding to that list.

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PRODUCED BY: Angelique Manto | Nikki Silva Breedveld | Jannarie Zarzoso |Ica Imanuelle Macazo


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Ica Imanuelle Macazo | Rexy Jolly Conopio | Angel Fagaragan


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