Neri: Yesterday’s crowned beauties

·4 min read

CEBUANA beauties have been making waves here and elsewhere since the time of the Carnival Queens. In a week or so, we will know if Cebu beauties will again be on centerstage during the beauty pageant for the selection of our country’s representatives to the Miss Universe and other international beauty pageants. Good luck to Steffi Rose Aberasturi and Beatrice Gomez.

Meanwhile, we had an interesting interaction with two of Cebu’s beauty title holders in the past: Gaw Glamour Girl Chacha Realiza Rama (1987) and Miss Cebu Tourism 1992 Christine Inocencio.

Q: What made you decide to join the competition?

A: (Chacha) “I joined the very first beauty pageant in Cebu City called Gaw Glamour Girl, named after the high-end department store GAW. The year was 1987. I was 17 and a student at the University of the Philippines. There was no Ms. Cebu yet at the time. I was very hesitant to join but was convinced by our neighbor Anna Conejero to give it a try. I won the title. A year after, I was asked by the local organizers to take part in the Mutya ng Pilipinas 1988 beauty pageant. I was on my own with no mentor and didn’t take the competition seriously. However, I made it to first runner-up and adjudged Best in Long Gown.”

(Christine) “I was an 18-year-old student at the University of the Philippines-Cebu back then and someone invited me to audition for the Miss Cebu Tourism pageant. I knew some past winners and they exuded grace and intelligence. I believed in the platform of the Miss Cebu Tourism pageant. It empowered young Cebuanas to be an Ambassadress for our beautiful city. It was daunting but exciting at the same time.”

Q: What lessons/realizations have you learned from that experience?

A: (Chacha) “I am always this person who believes that life is a collection of moments and I believe my fave author Paulo Coelho when he wrote, ‘Be brave, take risks, for nothing can substitute experience.’

Being an ‘ambivert’ (a cross between an extrovert and an introvert), I believe that fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it. ‘And it is only in being brave enough to explore the darkness, that we discover the infinite power of our light.’ That is my realization.”

(Christine) “Miss Cebu Tourism was the first and only beauty pageant that I joined and it was truly memorable. It empowered me to step up and gain more confidence as I was in the company of fantastic young ladies. Instead of seeing competition, I realized I was surrounded by great ladies who were potential friends. True enough, I forged lasting friendships. It has been close to 30 years since I won the Miss Cebu Tourism 1992 title and it has been a lovely chapter in my life. It always is a lovely story to share to my children -- to fill our lives with worthwhile experiences, we may win some and lose some but to lose is simply an opportunity to begin again.”

Q: How has your beauty title changed your life?

A: (Chacha) “The title changed my life overnight. Suddenly, everyone recognized me on the streets of Cebu. There was no social media then. I also joined organizations like AIESEC and made more friends. It was a wonderful experience for me as I love meeting people and knowing the other candidates was such a pleasant experience.”

(Christine) “Miss Cebu Tourism was both a title and a job as there were responsibilities to uphold being the Ambassadress of our great city as well as social events to attend on top of being a student at that time. I was more busy and more involved in community and social functions. In the process, I was more empowered to do more and be more.”

Q: What are you doing now?

A: (Chacha) “The journey of my life has taken me to different careers.

I hold a Master’s Degree in Education, Major in Linguistics from the UP Grad school. I also hold a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Leadership from Melbourne, Australia while I was based there for a couple of years. Constant learning is a passion. I am a licensed teacher, a licensed realtor, an entrepreneur, and have worked in the hotel industry too.

I feel that I need to calm down and I wish to enjoy life through travel. I recently partnered with some friends to open a travel agency last year and my niche is the Holy Land. I wish to bring people there to marvel at the breathtaking journey of Jerusalem, Egypt and Jordan. Once the pandemic clears, I wish to travel and take people to exotic places.”

(Christine) “I’m a proud mother of three wonderful children, Isabella, Sofia and Franco, and I spent my years balancing my time with them and work. Now that they are older, I spend a lot of time flying to the US and still manage my computer business. This pandemic, however, just made travel harder for me and I’m missing Cebu and can’t wait to fly back.”

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