How to spot a potential beauty queen

DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - October 26, 2013 - 12:00am

Beauty pageant season is upon us. With the triumph of Megan Young in the Miss World pageant, the Philippines has now won all the major beauty titles in the world, some more than once.

It’s true, the Philippines does have some of the most beautiful women in the world. But it takes a certain skill to spot that beauty, bring it out and make it shine in front of the world — and that’s where people like Jonas Gaffud come in.

Gaffud, who has been instrumental in training many of the country’s recent queens (including Megan as well as Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup and Janine Tugonon and reigning Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Ariella Arida, who is now in Russia to represent the country in the Miss Universe pageant), shares a few ideas on what it is that makes a beauty queen.

When you’re looking at a girl, what is it that you spot that makes you say, “Yes, she can be a beauty queen”?

“Well, you have standards. Of course, the height. She should be at least 5’5” to 5’6” or 5’7”. Her body structure does not necessarily have to be perfect, pero siyempre it helps if she has long legs and long arms — and she has to have that aura of a queen.”

Why is that important?

“There are lots of beautiful and tall girls. Models are tall. But a beauty queen is different because of the aura that she has. So when we train girls, when we discover girls, we look right away who has that aura that can be transformed into something very commanding. Having a commanding presence is important. There are lots of beautiful girls, especially models, but sometimes they’re just beautiful, pero parang walang dating. The beauty queens, they have that.”

In the last three Miss Universe pageants, your girls did very, very well. Is there pressure on you now to produce another winner?

“Actually, there’s been pressure every year, since I started in 2001. Every year, I feel that pressure.”

Based on your experience, what does it take to be winnable in an international competition?
“No. 1 is confidence. Sometimes, Asians are known to be very shy, very humble. She should be confident because the best that a Filipina could portray in an international competition is for her to have that certain air of elegance that’s almost classic.”

Is that elegance inborn, or can it be learned?

“It can be learned. Shamcey and Janine were tomboyish. Shamcey didn’t even know how to walk in heels. Pero natutunan niya. I always tell girls who want to join beauty pageants, ‘This is a show.’ People always say, ‘Be yourself,’ pero itago na natin sa baul yung ‘Be yourself.’ In the end, pwede naman ‘yun, but you still have to strive and show something. Remember, this is a show. In fashion shows, you sell the clothes. Here, you sell your personality. The body, the walk, the make-up, you can fix all of that, but she has to have that natural face na talagang maganda.”

How can you tell if somebody has that face? When you look at a girl, how can you tell that she has the look of a winner?

“It’s hard to define, but the closest, I guess, would be to say that it’s the total package. ‘Yung aura, siguro yung dating talaga. Sabi nga ni Shamcey, ‘Beauty is not definite. We define it.’ So kung ano yung nakikita ko, yun yung feeling ko na tama. But like with Shamcey and Janine, it’s also a process of finding all the right elements that in the end, bring out their beauty. And then of course, aside from the face, the personality is also important.”

So what you’re saying beauty is really an indefinable quality?

“In a way, yes. With Janine and Shamcey, ang daming nag-bash sa kanila, and people were saying all sorts of things, like si Shamcey, dahil Magna Cum Laude daw kaya pinanalo, si Janine dahil favorite daw ni (Madame) Stella Marquez kaya pinanalo, but in the end, we were able to bring out what was truly beautiful about them. Others don’t see that, especially at first. It always takes a process to make a queen.”

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