Beauty pageants are among the most favorite events of all time by Ilonggos or Filipinos. Agree or disagree? Oh, just agree! Ask how? I believe that you can still remember who among your Facebook friends posted her latest sash and crown in a barangay or school search for Miss so and so.

Imagine a university anniversary / sports week or a district fiesta without a beauty pageant associated in the calendar of activities? Just think of the possibility? Zero probably, right? Because as much as I could recall, a cultural celebration will never be complete without a king and queen coronation and that even kindergartens now have cute little majesties.

Just last month I sat as a judge in a barangay beauty pageant as part of its religious fiesta. As we all know, fame or success always starts from the simplest orientations. And for those who are dreaming to take their feet on the national stage, local pageants are a great venue to boost their confidence or give them the experience to better themselves undergoing rigid practices in ramps with 5 inch high heeled shoes, or in their talent that needed to be multifaceted, with singing, acting and dancing or even include gymnastics or karate, and in the most intense Q&A where you have to express yourself clearly and fluently without stammering or showing an anxious expression. So, when I was sitting there, meticulously examining who most deserved the crown, all these I have considered in my standard as to how one has been prepared. I have been through sleepless nights myself when I was convinced to join in a high school pageant and I could simply identify who did which and who didn’t during trainings. Thus, by just the production, you can easily tell who has the highest chances, until the most thrilling speaking engagement which is the interview.

I guess, that night, I shattered the confidence and discipline of the top three beauties when I was tasked to write the final question, which was, “Why do you think women are important in a society or community?” And boala, all of them answered, “Because women give birth” in their own version, which definitely kept me mum and broken hearted for God’s sake. I mean really? I wasn’t certainly sure if the reason their answer was the same and limited to the concept of creation was that they were nervous with the idea of testing their intelligence, thus, who am I to criticize them either, personally? Truly, I cannot condemn these ladies and rate them low, for by just standing there they have already bravely taken the challenge to be strong since zero minute of the competition. However, let it simply be for mothers of these very promising ladies, to please show them their strength, their values, their powers as women which make families, as foundation of a society – null and paralyzed – without their selfless choices and unparalleled sacrifice! So, women aren’t just here to give birth but to dedicate themselves as moms- heroes, balancing work at home or in offices, which are all forms of their noble service to the community.

My thoughts didn’t just focus on the contestants that night but also journeyed to millions of them who by their age should be knowledgeable first and foremost of their assets as women, before trying to obtain this era’s standard of walking physical beauty limited to modernly enhanced face features, white skin, curvy body, or a steward’s height. As much as we aim to improve God’s natural gifts, we should not leave behind our inner strength- our worth- whoever, wherever and however we encounter into and aspire to be. We don’t just exist for creation. We are valuable because we are definitely more.