Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Early favorites at Mutya ng Pilipinas 2012

- Vanessa Balbuena - The Philippine Star

CEBU, Philippines - If others view rejection and defeat for what they are, which are, well, rejection and defeat, Rizzini Alexis Gomez sees these in the perspective of it “not being my time yet.”

It is this optimism and never-say-die outlook that has the statuesque Cebuana once again taking a stab at a national beauty pageant crown. This time, it’s for one of the four Mutya ng Pilipinas titles at stake. This is her third try for the year: the first was for Bb. Pilipinas where she failed to make it as a finalist, and the second for Miss World-Philippines where she passed as official candidate but went home empty-handed.

The licensed nurse, who graduated from the University of Cebu, says of her past two failed attempts: “I don’t think of it as being rejected. For me, it’s just not my time yet. Maybe I’m not ready, maybe they think there’s still something lacking.”

She relates that her unwavering self-belief stems from the fact that she is surrounded by supportive loved ones, primarily her parents, the former PBA cager Rhoel Gomez and New York-based nurse Lalaine Camilian.

“I’ve never lacked in self-esteem because I’m encouraged a lot by my family and my friends. I get a lot of love from them. I have this dream and I won’t give up. If I get rejected, that doesn’t mean that I should feel down. I’m not gonna be put down without giving it a good fight,” declares Rizzini, whose titles so far include Miss Mandaue 2008, Miss Cebu 2009 first-runner up and Reyna ng Aliwan 2010.

She may have been unplaced in Miss World-Philippines, but Rizzini has no regrets. “I had a wonderful time! I gained a lot of friends, experiences and learnings. We underwent a lot of workshops. I met a lot of people. So I’m quite happy with that. Even though I lost the crown, I gained a lot. Those lessons we had on how to walk, how to talk, I can apply here in Mutya and even help my fellow candidates who want to learn.”

With a good 90% of the Mutya 2012 candidates being first-timers in national tilts, and with Rizzini’s previous pageant experience under her belt, pageant pundits feel she has higher chances of landing any of these slots: Mutya ng Pilipinas-Asia Pacific International, Mutya ng Pilipinas-Tourism International, Mutya ng Pilipinas-Tourism Queen of the Year, and Mutya ng Pilipinas-Intercontinental. 

“I don’t want to expect, but I’m going to do my best. I’m proud to represent Cebu. My trainers said I improved a lot, but that I have to level up a notch higher,” she says.

If anything, Rizzini’s early awards are a promising indication. At the swimsuit competition held at the Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City, she was declared Best in Swimsuit and was also named Mutya ng Imperial Palace.

Another Cebuana in this year’s Mutya roster of 30 hopefuls is Paula Bascon who is representing Lapu-Lapu City. This is the 19-year-old’s first national pageant. Paula, who resembles model-TV host Phoemela Baranda, is a third year Tourism student at the University of San Carlos.

This next one is no Cebuana, but worthy to mention, as she got the most favorable reaction for beauty of face and poise during their Cebu media presentation held also at the Imperial. Fittingly, this girl’s birth name happens to be also Mutya! From Sta. Maria, Isabela, 20-year-old Mutya Johanna Datul is a favorite contender among pageant-watchers, and the Manila media also thought so for they awarded her Mutya Press Favorite in another pre-pageant event.

Like Rizzini, Mutya is no neophyte to the pageant scene. She was crowned Miss Isabela Tourism 2011 and was also a Miss Olive-C 2012 top ten finalist. “I want to add another Mutya to my name. My mother named me Mutya because it was her dream for me to be a beauty queen,” she shares.

Kaylee Calaguas of West Coast, USA is also one finalist that’s making the other ladies nervous. She was cited by the others as one of the competitions “biggest threats” after winning Ms. Photogenic and Ms. Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa. Kaylee had previously won the Miss Teenager USA 2010, a national pageant for Asians in America.

The rest of the contestants represent cities, municipalities and provinces from all over the country as well as Filipino communities in Canada, Japan and the USA.

Now on its 44th year, Mutya ng Pilipinas aims to discover world-class beauty queens and also promote Philippine tourism. The grand coronation night will be this Sunday, Aug. 12 at the UP Diliman Theater, with a delayed telecast on GMA-7 at 10:30 p.m.

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