As the dust settles from the frenetic pace of preparations and the conduct of the just concluded Asean and East Asia Summits, soon after putting out the flames of a five-month terrorist siege of Marawi City, the nation deserves a breath of fresh good news.
That comes to us in the form of another victory for the Filipina in the international arena for a battle of beauty and wits – but this one, for the first time for the Philippines, the quest was to be crowned Reina Hispanoamericana 2017 to promote the Hispanic-American culture around the world.
The 25-year old Maria Teresita Ssen L. Marquez, aptly nicknamed “Winwyn” since she was a kid, gave the nation a much-needed respite when she brought home the crown on Monday, Nov. 13, and with it the national pride of being the first Filipina and first Asian to win the naturally Latina-American-dominated beauty pageant.
The contest, a nearly three-decade-old franchise based in Bolivia, gathers young women from countries with a Hispanic heritage, the Philippines included, if not the only one in Southeast Asia.
Marquez, a GMA Network homegrown television talent with special thespian skills, made her victory more significant by the fact that she bested 25 other contestants from the Latin-American world without the edge of speaking the lingua franca of the competition.
Apparently, the judges in Santa Cruz in Bolivia where the 2017 Reina Hispanoamericana was held, put real value on the overall charisma and ability of their queen to command attention and respect for the Hispanic-American cause.
Netizens and fellow talents have a term to describe her performances on the dance floor: buwis-buhay, figuratively to convey the message that her life depended on what she’s got to deliver to audiences, unbelievable splits and flips up in the air if not on the stage. With her Asian looks she must have stood out in a sea of blondes and blue or green eyes in the Reina Hispanoamericana competition.
Marquez won at a time the nation was weary of wars and politics, with the Marawi City siege just winding down and the Philippine government facing the tremendous challenge of ensuring the terrorist threat does not mess with the country’s preparations for and hosting of the Asean and related events. At the same time, the Duterte government was hearing talk of oncoming pressure from some international human rights groups and a couple of US Representatives on President Donald Trump to impress upon the Philippine president during the summit the global concern over EJKs and human rights in the country.
As the Philippines proved able to host a safe, peaceful and successful summit for about 20 world leaders and hundreds of other participants, Marquez demonstrated how a young woman could also fight her own quiet battle for the crown and in the end bring home pride to her nation of more than 100 million people.
The nation needed a break, and it was delivered by a young, beautiful and smart woman, showing how Filipinos can rise above adversities and do her country proud.
It does not matter if it was by winning “only” an international beauty title, like her compatriot Karen Ibasco won the Miss Earth 2017 title, or if it was an international bowling crown just like what Krizziah Lyn Tabora brought home from Mexico this week after winning the sport’s 2017 World Cup over a crack Malaysian player.
To be sure, there were many other over-achieving Filipino men and women who recently left their mark in other areas and disciplines. Their common denominator is their evident courage to fight for their country’s honor.
We wish for their tribe to increase. In an era of global humanitarian crises and cyber hostilities, we must try to draw from our positive core of values and decide to support what is good and right for our fellow human beings, than continue to find fault and bring people down at every opportunity.