Like a diesel engine, Mutya ng Pilipinas Ilene de Vera started slow in the 2017 Miss Asia Pacific International pageant, but she is now picking up pace.
During the first auxiliary events held in Metro Manila earlier this month, the statuesque beauty failed to bring home any awards or citations.
But in the crucial swimsuit competition held at Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa in Puerto Princesa City on Nov. 21, De Vera managed a decent third-place finish.
She also placed third in the “Palawan Festival Costume” parade during the same event.
In the evening gown competition held at Mövenpick Resort and Spa in Boracay on Nov. 25, she finished a notch higher at second place.
When asked about the seeming upward trajectory of her chances, De Vera said: “I just do my best every time there is an event. Hopefully, we can get the crown for the Philippines.”
She admitted to having a hard time of it during the early stages of the competition.
“I was homesick. I missed my home [in] Cebu and I lived in Manila for three months to train,” she said.
But when the competition went into high gear, she said, she started enjoying the experience “because the girls are [also] enjoying the Philippines, and they like me so much.”
“At first they thought of me as competition because the Philippines had been faring very well in international pageants. I thought they felt threatened. But when I got the chance to talk with them, they were really nice to me.”
De Vera hopes to further pick up the pace ahead of the coronation night.
“I want to win for the country, and for Mutya [ng Pilipinas]. Mutya deserves a crown for its 50th anniversary next year,” she said.
If she wins, De Vera said she would use the Miss Asia Pacific International crown to inspire people.
“It is really in my heart to defend people who get bullied, because I’ve experienced bullying since my grade school years,” she explained.
“I’m passionate about defending those who are bullied and also helping the bullies because the latter are the ones who have a problem,” De Vera added.
‘Beauty in diversity’
The Miss Asia Pacific International pageant advocates “beauty in diversity” and is seeking to crown the candidate who celebrates the things that make people unique and promotes the acceptance of people’s differences.
The global tilt took a decadelong hiatus and was revived only last year by a group of Filipinos, with millennials taking the lead.
Established in the Philippines as the Miss Asia Quest in 1968, the contest later acquired the defunct Queen of the Pacific pageant and was renamed as the Miss Asia Pacific Quest.
At the turn of the millennium, the contest expanded and accepted delegates from outside the Asia-Pacific region and was called the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant.
Since 1968, the contest has crowned four Filipino queens— Inez Zaragoza (1982), Gloria Dimayacyac (1983), Lorna Legaspi (1989) and Michelle Aldana (1993).
The 2017 Miss Asia Pacific International coronation night will be staged at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila in Pasay City on Nov. 29.
It will have a delayed telecast on the FOXLife channel at 9 a.m. on Dec. 3 and on ABS-CBN on the same day before “ASAP.”
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