BY EDENBERG NIELO
ILOILO City – One is a firm believer in education as a ticket to success. Another champions protecting Mother Earth while another bats for more focus on mental health.
In last night’s glitzy Miss Iloilo 2020 at the West Visayas State University Cultural Center, these three “beauty with a purpose” young ladies got the judges’ nod to be crowned the new queens of Iloilo.
The 23-year-old Rabiya Occena Mateo of this city and Sampaloc, Manila made history by being crowned the first Miss Iloilo-Universe.
“As an educator, I want people to see education the way that I see it – a golden ticket to success. Knowledge is and always will be power, wherever you are, whoever you’re with. If you are knowledgeable you will excel and become successful,” according to Mateo.
At 5 feet and 6 inches tall, Mateo will be Iloilo’s official screening candidate to the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 competition, announced the pageant host, celebrity Robi Domingo.
“If I were to be crowned tonight, it will be such an honor to bring to the global community our very own hablon which represents dedication, hard work and creative side of every Ilonggo. Aside from that, I want to show to the world that I am a queen today because of my province and with that being said, I want to prove to everyone that I am a true Ilongga with a heartfelt beauty,” Mateo said during the question and answer portion.
Mateo was also declared “Best in Talent” last night in an engaging and fast-paced pageant – a far cry from last year’s long, dragging and boring show that ended at nearly 3 a.m. Last night’s program ended just a little past 9:30 p.m.
The 20-year-old Ann Roxal Dedel Palmares of Mandurriao district was crowned the pioneering Miss Iloilo-World.
“The crowns of Miss Iloilo 2020 can promote the global community because first and foremost, Miss Iloilo is searching for an Ilongga who will depict Iloilo City – the city of love – the malambing na mga Ilonggos and that, we are known for our food, devotion and love. Food because of the delicacies and the La Paz batchoy that hardworking and creative Ilonggos make. Devotion because of the Santo Niño,” Palmares said as she consumed the 30-second Q&A time limit.
She will be supported in her journey to Miss Philippines World 2020 competition, according to the organizers of the Miss Iloilo 2020 that have made it their goal to have Ilongga representatives in national and international beauty pageants every year “and to show the world the true Ilongga heartfelt beauty.”
“Mother Earth has provided us our daily needs. She has taken good care of us. It is time we give back and take good care of her, too,” according to Palmares who stands 5 feet and 7 inches tall.
On the other hand, 24-year-old Karen Laurrie Bano Mendoza of Concepcion, Iloilo was declared Miss Iloilo-Binibining Pilipinas 2020.
She will be the official Iloilo screening candidate for the Binibining Pilipinas 2020 beauty pageant.
“Show someone who are struggling from mental illness that life is wonderful. Let’s assure them that they can do it, and they don’t have to do it alone,” according to Mendoza.
At the start of last night’s pageant which kicked off at 7:30 p.m., 11 candidates were given the opportunity to expound on their advocacies.
“Miss Iloilo radiates genuine heartfelt beauty. We are not only beauty here on stage but also with a purpose. We can create small effects (but with) positive ripples of change. We are not only wearing a crown in our head but also with our heart,” Mendoza said when asked of how the crowns of Miss Iloilo 2020 promote Iloilo in the global community. .
Kheshapornam Empedrad Ramachandran of Iloilo City and Sharamie Apuli Solocio of Santa Barbara, Iloilo were the first and second runners up, respectively.
Ramachandran was declared “Best in Swimwear” and “Best in Evening Gown”.
Among the judges were Miss Universe 2011 third runner up Shamcey Supsup-Lee and Binibining Pilipinas 2018 first runner up Vickie Marie Rushton.
The Miss Iloilo, according to the city government and Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc., replaced the Miss Dinagyang beauty pageant that for many years chose the city’s ambassadress of goodwill.
Miss Iloilo 2020 was directed by respected Ilonggo theater director, artist and University of the Philippines professor Kevin Pison Piamonte./PN