Teresita “Winwyn” Ssen Marquez, the 25-year-old GMA Network homegrown talent, triumphantly returned to Manila on Monday as the first Filipina and Asian to compete and be crowned Reina Hispanoamericana 2017.
Having returned from the US where she took a brief vacation following her big win in Bolivia, Marquez was a picture of sheer happiness. At her welcome party in Annabel’s Restaurant in Quezon City, she animatedly shared her experiences in South America, most especially the final moments before her name was called as the new Reina Hispanoamericana.
“Actually, I was called as one of the Top 2, and I was just praying in my head all that time. I was really happy already and satisfied. I said whatever happens, it’s okay because I never expected to go that far since [the roster of candidates]was a powerhouse of beauty queens. When they called my name, wala na, I was just overwhelmed,” she enthused.
“I believe in destiny. God has a purpose. I lost the first time then I was given another opportunity to show who I really am, and it worked in my favor. The more you think about it and the more you are positive about something—the more you imagine wearing a crown—it’s a law of attraction. It will come to you.”
According to Marquez, she found it very difficult to mingle with the other candidates in Bolivia, being the only one who does not speak Spanish; but she was grateful there were a good number who reached out to her and even helped her during interviews.
“Imagine having lunch and dinner with 26 Latinas talking in Spanish and you want to socialize. You can’t just butt in and speak in English, even if you understood some of their sentences. I felt out of place at first and didn’t know what to do. I was just holding on to my phone in the first few days,” she admitted.
“But when I told myself na kailangan ko na kapalan yung face ko, even with those who didn’t speak English, I even used ‘sign language’ just so I can communicate. I reached out because you can’t just sit down and do nothing. After that, many of my new-found friends in the competition helped me out, translating what I wanted to say to other people. Imagine they were my rivals, but they told me I need to be heard, so I am so grateful to them.”
Even as she slayed her question-and-answer portion with an interpreter, Marquez admitted it is not as easy to use one as others may think. She was very fortunate, however, to have been assigned a very thorough interpreter who expertly delivered her well-constructed answer to the question, “How would you promote the Hispanic-American culture with great difficulty or barrier of language?”
“Having an interpreter is harder because even if you want to be fluid with your thoughts, you have to cut your thoughts [for the translation]and your tendency is to forget what you want to say,” she explained.
“It was hard to do but if you really know what you want to say—if it comes from the heart and from your experience—then it can work. But in general having a translator is not an advantage because sometimes what you’ll say is not exactly delivered.”
She quickly added, “But I can’t complain because the interpreter helped me so that other people can understand my answer. What’s good is that my question really related to my experience, and I just answered honestly.”
As Reina Hispanoamericana, Marquez plans to promote the Hispanic culture first in the Philippines.
“Of course I want to start in our country. The Hispanic culture has been lost in the Philippines. We all know many of our traditions come from the Spaniards including our culture, our [Catholic] faith.
“I hope we can all be aware of this, especially the millennials because it is very important that you know your history and culture. When you know who you really are, when you know your unique heritage, you will create your own unique identity.
“I myself don’t speak Spanish, I am not fluent but I am ready to learn. And I hope we also tap other people who to want to learn.”
Besides promoting the Hispanic culture, Marquez is also planning to promote her personal advocacy in education.
Asked if she plans take a break from acting to pursue her duties during her reign, Marquez replied, “I am open to accepting acting projects. My organization is very open and they think that whatever platform [on which]you can speak and attract attention, you should use that opportunity.
“I started being an actress and, I would love to go back to it. I don’t think it will affect my responsibilities as a beauty queen.”
She also promised she will pursue a doctorate degree after her reign as requested by her father, actor-comedian and former politician Joey Marquez.
“I graduated marketing management in San Beda, and I got my teaching certificate so I am a teacher already. I was supposed to get my master’s degree before joining Miss World but I prioritized the pageants, so my dad and I will talk about it. But he but he knows very well that I am interested to continue further education, maybe not now but in the future.”
Change of name
Finally, Marquez requested media to use her real name rather than her nickname Winwyn.
“Actually it was the idea of Sir Arnold Vegafria (head of ALV Talent Circuit) to use it because that’s how I am known in South America now,” she explained.
“There was an instance where everyone wanted to get my social media account and they were trying to look for my name as Teresita Marquez, but they didn’t see anything, so I had to say it’s Wyn Marquez. I told them that’s my nickname in the Philippines.
“But the name Teresita made a mark in South America, also in New York. I think it is also a good thing to start using it and let people know what’s my real name.
“Maybe it will take time for the Philippines to use it but I would like to use my real name from now on.”
Marquez ended her first press conference as Reina Hispanoamericana to thank everyone who supported her, including her bashers who kept her grounded.
“Thank you for trusting in me. Thank you for believing that I can ‘win win’ this pageant and you did not gave up on me.
“To all the bashers, I want to thank you also because with the words you have thrown at me, that’s what made me want to prove to myself that I can really do it. And now I made it.”
Asked what her winnings entailed, Marquez said they comprised a cash prize without revealing the amount, appliances, gowns, and other gifts.
Her replica crown, made of rubies, diamonds, and silver is still worth $7,000. The original, which is a little bigger is worth $12,000.
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Mariel de Leon fails to place in Miss International
Philippine bet Maria Angelica “Mariel” de Leon failed to deliver the back-to-back win the country was hoping for with Kylie Versoza at the 2017 Miss International pageant in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the outcome also brought an end to the winning streak of Philippine beauty queens on the international stage since October.
Indonesia Kevin Lilliana was crowned 2017 Miss International with the first to fourth runners-up titles given respectively to Miss Curacao, Miss Venezuela, Miss Australia and Miss Japan.
Lilliana gave her country its first Miss International win, while the Philippines and Venezuela keep their respective rankings on the winners’ board with six and seven wins, respectively.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News from Japan, the daughter of showbiz couple Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong said the international pageant made her a “stronger, wiser and smarter woman,” and that it taught her how to fight harder for her goals and dreams.
“I really learned a lot from this experience. I made a lot of relationships with the other girls here and I am really proud of how far we’ve all come. I’m going to put this in my good memories,” she added.
De Leon is part of an all-girl classical singing group Opera Belles and has long said her passion is her music. She will also be seen in December’s Metro Manila Film Festival as leading lady to Coco Martin’s remake of Fernando Poe Jr.’s “Ang Panday.”