After a decade-long hiatus, the oldest international beauty contest in Asia is slowly finding its voice in the already crowded pageant world.
The Miss Asia Pacific International pageant was successfully relaunched last year, crowning Dutch beauty Tessa Le Conge from among a field of 40 aspirants. This year, 42 international delegates are in the Philippines to complete the tilt’s resurrection, under the auspices of millennials who are eager to revive a 49-year-old contest.
Young entrepreneur Jacqueline Tan-Sainz, former Mutya ng Pilipinas president, is at the helm of revival efforts.
Relinquishing her national pageant duties to focus on the international tilt, Sainz brought in her friend and fellow millennial Essa Santos for the 2017 edition.
Santos, who is the pageant’s general manager, was introduced at the delegates’ press presentation held at the Edsa Shangri-La in Mandaluyong City on Nov. 13.
“Now under new ownership and management, we’re proud and excited to say that the Miss Asia Pacific International is back and determined to make its own distinct mark in the beauty pageant industry,” Santos said.
“We are now geared toward becoming a platform that aims to empower women to find beauty in diversity,” she added.
For Santos, this advocacy hits home with millennials.
“We feel that in a generation that experiences extreme pressure to be a certain way, look a certain way, and think
a certain way, respect and
appreciation for whatever sets us apart have faltered,” she
Santos said the pageant hopes to celebrate “the things that make us unique, be it race, ethnicity, religion, belief, opinion, life experiences and everything else.”
She said the organization hopes to forge solidarity and sisterhood among the delegates, who they hope would view the pageant as more than a contest for a crown and title.
“For us, they are ambassadors of embracing individuality and at the same time respecting those of others,” Santos shared.
The pageant, she said, is now looking for a queen who is strong and confident, and “proud of herself, her culture, and all the things that make her who she is.”
It was the homestretch of Sainz’s Mutya presidency when she spearheaded the revival of the international pageant, which was last held in 2005. The national contest sent the country’s representatives to the global tilt for four decades.
Sainz revitalized the national pageant, fostering partnerships with beauty contest aficionados in the Visayas and Mindanao, to discover the untapped beauties beyond the reach of the other national searches.
She also strengthened Mutya’s relationships with overseas partners, who continued to send representatives from Filipino communities abroad, to highlight the global Filipino spirit.
The young entrepreneur, who also handles several other ventures of her family, is banking on her experience in successfully transforming Mutya to revitalize the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant.
Sainz’s move to relinquish her Mutya presidency broke tradition, a risky move characteristic of millennials.
The international pageant, then called the Miss Asia Quest, was founded by the same owners of Mutya in 1968 to establish a beauty competition among Asian nations.
Since then, the ownership of the pageant tandem remained one entity, even with the acquisition of the defunct Queen of the Pacific pageant which resulted in the rebranding of the global tilt as the Miss Asia Pacific Quest, accepting delegates from countries on the other end of the Pacific Ocean, and from Oceania.
The global pageant further expanded at the turn of the millennium and was called the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant.
Since its inception, only four Filipino women have won in the Philippine-based pageant—Ines Zaragoza (1982), Bong Dimayacyac (1983), Lorna Legaspi (1989) and Michelle Aldana (1993).
This year, the Philippines is represented by Ilene de Vera, an events and marketing specialist who holds a communication degree from the University of the Philippines.
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.
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