Former beauty queen calls for pride in Filipino heritage

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Gemma Cruz-Araneta, the first Filipina to win the Miss International crown, said that women who seek to join international pageants should “be proud of the Filipino language, heritage and culture.”

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Araneta, who won the crown in 1964, said that while Filipina beauties are gaining attention in the international arena, they should show nationalism by using the Filipino language.

“Although being a beauty queen should not be the center of one’s life and existence, these ladies should always be prepared to be representatives of the country, and they must take it seriously,” she said when she visited The Manila Times College campus in Intramuros, Manila on Tuesday to give some tips to would-be journalists as part of the F. Sionil Lecture series.

“Being the first Filipina to win an international title, I am very proud that Filipinas are aspiring to become beauty queens. However, more than being a beauty queen, these ladies must carry themselves with Filipino pride,” she added.

Araneta cited the case of Miss World 2013 Megan Young.

“I have a friend who posted a picture of him and Megan Young after she won Miss World. I told that friend to tell Ms. Young to use her mother’s last name, which is Talde. Megan Young’s name sounds so foreign, and adding ‘Talde’ to it sounds more Filipino, which is nice,” she narrated.

She advised Miss Philippines-International Bea Rose Santiago to get an interpreter during her competition on December 17 in Tokyo, Japan. Araneta said that Santiagos can answer in Filipino during the question and answer portion if she feels more comfortable speaking her language.

“I think she should use an interpreter if she feels more comfortable. Like what I’ve said, you have to master a language to be able to express your thought process. There’s nothing wrong with speaking Tagalog, if she feels more comfortable and it would help her, then she should speak the local language,” Araneta said.

“She could even use this to her advantage as an attractive point. She can say that she wants to promote the Filipino language and therefore use Tagalog in the Q&A,” she added.

As the daughter of celebrated writer and author, Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil, Araneta shared tips to aspiring journalists based on her and her mother’s experiences in the field.

Araneta advised students to master a language, build different interests, enhance skills and knowledge through continuous reading, decide with conviction, be responsible, and most important, focus on the news.

The former beauty queen now heads the Heritage Conservation Society.

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