By Mark Vincent M. Lao
The lights came flashing. It was my cue to walk on the ramp. I dared to join the beauty pageant because I had won two titles before. I believed that I had gone through so many challenges in my path and my experiences were enough for me to take home another title. But I was wrong.
The first time I joined was due to the exasperation of my ninth-grade classmate who was the president of our class that time. I was walking in the corridor and then up the stairs without any confidence. I went straight to our room. And there she was, her right hand placed on her worried face, which lightened up when she saw me. “Lao, ikaw na lang bi!” These were the words I remember all too well. “Ha?” I answered. “Sa ano?” She told me about the pageant and laid out the possibilities for me if I won. Only the positive ones. “Sige a,” I said. The answer was responsible for my fate in the next couple of years.
I won my first time. The pageant helped me gain confidence to stand and face people.
My second time was with the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES), but it didn’t happen right away. SPES is conducted every summer, and a part of the program is a province-wide beauty pageant. I first joined the program in 2015, and I had a chance that year to represent Tacurong, my home city, in the pageant. But I let the chance pass, thinking that things that come along always come along. The next year, I wanted to join the pageant more than anything, but I wasn’t the only one who wanted it. The opportunity was given to someone else. I didn’t let it pass; it passed me. It was only in 2017 when my dream became a reality. I was chosen. It must be the right time because my experience was fantastic. Everything went well, and I won the title—my second.
It took me a walk in the corridor and three summers to be a candidate in the annual beauty pageant of my school. A screening was held for interested high school students, and I didn’t pass up the opportunity or let it pass me. Not anymore. Others knew my burning passion and love for the ramp so well that no one went against me. I was chosen as the representative of the high school department, and I had to compete with college students. It was on cloud nine.
The practice for the production number was done in a hurry. We started just three or four days before the pageant. It was quite a challenge for me. But it was nothing compared to what I might win and gain. Every time I walk on the ramp, my dreams come true, even just for a minute. While hearing a lot of cheers and screams, my dreams come true.
I thought my experiences were enough for me to take home my third title. I was wrong. I was proclaimed first runner-up. My family, my friends, and the people who had been there for me from the start witnessed it. They were all surprised and wanted me to go back to the line at the back when I was called, saying I deserved to win.
But I was able to do what others could not in front of a crowd. I did the best I could. I won against myself. I won the hearts of people who believed in me. I did not lose. I might not have taken home a title, but I won. I won my third walk on the ramp.