Winning a beauty pageant
An experience worth a thousand smiles
was looking for...the chance to be seen longer by the judges. In addition, I told myself I would do my best to answer the magic
question to attract everyone’s attention. It was the only opportunity left for me to land at least in the top three.

All questions fielded to the eight finalists concerned senior citizens and their challenges in life and society, what actions they
should do and why. The question I got was: “Are you in favor of a widowed senior citizen to get married again?”

I answered with a big smile: “Yes, I am in favor of a widowed senior citizen to get married again...because it is lonely to be
alone, and I should know for I am one.” Then I held the host’s hand (who was fortunately to my left) and I said, “It is wonderful
to have somebody who holds your hand when you’re down...somebody who is glad for and with you when you’re happy...and
somebody who will give you that body warmth during cold nights...” I emphasized the last statement in Tagalog, and the
audience applauded. Finally I added, “After all, I believe that ‘Love is lovelier the second time around.’” I gave enough feeling
and space to every word I said, such that I received the most applause and highest audience impact score. I learned later, too,
that I received perfect scores in Q&A from all five judges.

When the top three winners were being called, I wasn’t expecting anything. I told myself I might not win because I didn’t even
get any Special Award earlier. But when my number was called as the winner, I was stunned, became teary eyed and too
shocked to even utter a word. It was one of the most special nights I ever had in life!

I have been honored by my municipality last March 12th during a flag-raising ceremony at the municipal hall, with town officials
led by Mayor Dennis Panganiban. I have several more invitations for parties thanking me as the lone top winner representing
my hometown in ANILAG, and I just am grateful for the special attention I am getting at this time. Winning has its perks. But
victories don’t change who I am.
(Above) Coronation shot of the pageant winner with the Provincial Governor, Hon. ; Ramil Hernandez and the outgoing
Prettiest Lola 2016, (Right Photo, L-R)  2nd Runnerup Ms. Cavinti, Gov. Hernandez; Heidi Pascual, the winner; 2016 Winner;
Prov. Exec. Asst.; and 1st Runnerup Ms. Sta. Rosa.
By Heidi M. Pascual

On March 7th this year, I won a beauty pageant title in the province of Laguna
(Philippines) called “Pinakamagandang Lola ng Laguna 2017” (The Most Beautiful
Grandma of the Province of Laguna 2017). It was a competition featured in the annual
ANILAG Festival, a one-week festival showcasing the harvests, products, tourist
attractions, histories, and unique services of Laguna’s 26 municipalities and four cities.
Laguna is my home province; it is located south of Metro Manila, such that three of its
towns closest to Manila have become cities themselves. ANILAG Festival also boasts of
a huge trade fair, carnival rides, land floats, street dancing competitions from various
schools, craft and cooking contests, band concerts, and three other beauty pageants: Gay
and Mr. And Miss Laguna.

I was selected in early February this year to represent my hometown in the pageant for
grandmothers. Truth to tell, I was randomly chosen by a former town official who
happened to know me since childhood! The pageant followed all procedures currently
being implemented by national beauty pageant organizations: pictorials/photo shoots
and introductions of contestants held in a beautiful tourist area; production rehearsals
with directors and choreographers from
Manila; and a final night complete with the
following competitions: Festival Gown,
Summer Wear, Filipiniana Gown, and a Q&A
at the end.

The contestants were required to wear a
Festival Gown made of native or recycled
materials, preferably with a theme that
represents one’s hometown.  In my case, I
designed my own Festival Gown, showing
my town’s most popular product, Kesong
Puti (White Cheese) made from carabao’s
milk and wrapped in banana leaves, and our
famous white flower used as garlands,
Sampaguita.  My dressmaker used recycled
materials, such as sugar sacks, rubber tire
interiors, and wire clotheslines. She cut and
painted the tire interiors green to look like
banana leaves, and spread sampaguita-look-
alikes around the skirt made of used sacks.
It was a beautiful creation indeed! Though it
didn’t catch the prize for Best Festival Gown, I
knew it helped push me somewhere up
there in the judges’ list.
When the Filipiniana Gown competition was called, I was extremely
tense. At this point, I haven’t gotten any Special Award. Special awards
have already been given out: Best in Festival Gown, Miss Lola Friendship,
Miss Lola Photogenic, Best in Summer Wear, and Best in Runway. Earlier
in the pageant, I was hoping to just get at least one Special Award;
unfortunately, I think because I was placed at the back of other
contestants (we were placed alphabetically according to towns
represented), it was difficult to be seen by the judges right away. My
hopes were getting low.

Then the Best in Filipiniana Gown was announced...and it wasn’t me
again. My heart sank deeper. My hopes were almost gone.

Then as the Eight Finalists were being called, I was praying hard. I said
“Please let me be included at least in this group, Lord.” And my number
was called!

This was the first time I was placed in front, and I knew I had the
chance I
From Top Right): Festival Gown; Filipiniana Gown
& Summer Wear Competitions; Heidi answers
the magic question.