Pinay beauties rule TARA Season 5

Jerry Donato - The Philippine Star
Pinay beauties rule TARA Season 5

Parul Shah and Maggie Wilson-Consunji on winning The Amazing Race Asia 5: Beauty queens are trained like athletes. We’re trained physically, mentally and emotionally.

SINGAPORE — Philippines’ Maggie Wilson-Consunji and Parul Shah made history as the first beauty queen team to win The Amazing Race Asia (TARA) Season 5 when they stepped on the final pit stop’s mat in Bali, Indonesia ahead of Malaysia’s Chloe Chen and Lee Yvonne (second) and Philippines’ Eric Tai and wife Rona Samson (third).

Maggie and Parul gave the Philippines its second win (the first was courtesy of Richard Hardin and Richard Herrera in Season 4) and a back-to-back victory. With Eric and Rona’s entry in the finale leg, one can say that Philippines reigned supreme in this edition of the reality show. The Top 3 teams went around six countries and 12 cities and hurdled physical and mental challenges.

“I truly believe that the race is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical,” said Maggie during the TARA Season 5 finale party held at ION Sky.

As for Parul, she attributed their win to the quality of pageant training given to Pinay beauty aspirants and queens.

“Beauty queens back home in the Philippines are trained like athletes,” she said. “We’re very fit physically, mentally and emotionally. I guess that’s what got us where we are now.”

Maggie and Parul’s win is not just another triumph of the human spirit but also a narrative of gender equality and women power.

With their recent win on AXN’s The Amazing Race Asia Season 5, Maggie and Parul give the Philippines its second win (the first was courtesy of Richard Hardin and Richard Herrera in Season 4) and a back-to-back victory. Joining them is Ang Hui Keng, SVP and GM of Sony Pictures Television Network Asia.

“A lot of people have this perception about beauty queens that we’re weak, fragile and we’re just all hair and make-up,” shared Parul in a one on one the day after the announcement of winners. “We train like athletes.”

“They only just see the exterior. They don’t realize that you know we are quite strong women,” added Maggie. “We’re fit. We run. Aside from that, I think what really helped us with the race was because we were part of pageants. Beauty pageant is a competitive and super high-stress environment. So while we were racing, that really worked to our advantage. It just feels amazing that there were two beauty queen teams that made it to the final three. Definitely, it’s breaking the mold and the stereotype of what people think what beauty queens are.” Malaysian Chloe and Yvonne joined the Miss World in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Following Maggie’s line of thought, TARA Season 5 was dominated by women. Eric was the last man standing in the Top 3. Treasuri Tamara and Louisa Kusnandar of Indonesia ranked fourth in the race.

What was their game strategy before and during the race? Maggie had the answer. “I think our strategy was to never come in last.” She learned this by binge-watching 10 different seasons from the US and Asian versions as shared by Parul. “I did my homework before we flew in to race,” Maggie related. “What I picked up was coming in first doesn’t really matter until the final leg. The goal was to never come in last and don’t have the target on our backs. It did matter to come in first but all we had to do was make it. True enough, we were the underdogs. We never came in last and we also never came in first until the very, very last episode.” Their racing story is an inspiration for those aspiring to join future editions of TARA. Maggie and Parul climbed the placement ladder very slowly but surely — from seventh place to first.

Before they chanced upon this newfound fame and fortune, Maggie and Parul were part of the more than 2,000 applicants who only wished to make it to the final list of 11 teams. They just sent the audition video on the day of the deadline. Maggie called up Parul, asking the latter if she wanted to do TARA Season 5 with the former. “She was like ‘Oh my god, yes,’” recalled Maggie, telling Parul to “think about it. Sleep on it.” Parul replied, saying, “No, I’m not gonna think. We’re gonna do it. Let’s do it already.” Then, they recorded a three-minute video. “Our audition video was very simple, we were just sitting down, our camera was put in front of us, no special effects, no music,” said Parul. “We were just ourselves. We just talked about our weaknesses and strengths.”

“I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. But then as much as you want to think that, you also have to get yourself there,” added Maggie. “You have to take a leap of faith and that’s what we did.” The beauty queens sent the video and made it to the list.

Before the TARA 5 bug bit them and interrupted in a good way their usual daily grind, Maggie was studying, while Parul, the breadwinner, was entertaining the thought of testing the waters in Dubai.

Host Allan Wu with the racers.

“I was actually in school. I was enrolled in an interior design school for the semester,” said Maggie, who had to make up some excuses and withdraw from the classes eventually.

“For me, I was back in the Philippines and I needed to go back to Dubai because Papa wasn’t feeling well,” said Parul. “I was planning to be based in Dubai and find a job there. Maggie said, ‘No. Let’s try and audition.’ And I said, ‘OK. Let’s give this a try and why not.’”

“A lot of people don’t know that Parul is the breadwinner,” said Maggie. “I think she is an inspiration. We look very glamorous but our lives are not always glamorous. She takes care of her family.”

Parul’s dad suffered a stroke before she left to do TARA and while she was in it, the father had another one. Her dad became Parul and Maggie’s motivation to finish the tasks together and to get ahead of everyone — if possible. The winnings will be a great help to Parul’s Papa. “We’ll give it sometime, like maybe after the holidays,” said Parul of her plans after being crowned TARA winner with Maggie. “Work for sure will be coming in and there will be a lot of invitations and that’s for sure, and we will take it from there.”

“Ideally, I would like to work in the region in Southeast Asia and continue (to work) on TV, not acting so much, more like hosting lifestyle shows,” said Maggie, a perfect host with Parul for a travel or beauty content.

Since Christmas is just around the corner, Parul will spend the holidays with her Mama and Papa in Dubai. Maggie’s dad, who is based in Saudi Arabia, is coming home.

Aside from their never-come-last strategy, Maggie and Parul had to find a way to be on the right track by keeping hope afloat. “We never lost hope,” Maggie said. “We believe that the moment you lose hope, that’s you’re giving up already. Going into the race, we had the mindset that we would never give up. And whatever happens we would always finish.”

That’s why they never faltered in tough challenges like shooting an arrow and climbing a crater. “We never gave up,” Parul said. “She (Maggie) was tired. I was like it’s OK we can slow down. We will never stop and that’s one thing good about us, like we won’t give up. Even though we were last, I was like we will never give up.”

Maggie and Parul’s friendship began when they met in Bb. Pilipinas. “We’ve been friends for four years and counting,” said Maggie. The beauties came from the same pageant camp Kagandahang Flores. In 2012, Maggie recalled that Rodgil Flores asked her to take in some girls and train them for a couple of weeks. Parul was one of them. Their instant connection can be attributed to the fact that they both grew up in the Middle East and share an interest in beauty pageants.

“I was training with her for two years and I eventually won a crown because of her,” said Parul, who a week before the TARA party had acquired dengue but was up and about during the event and interviews with select media. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” she said.

As you remember, Maggie was 2007 Bb. Pilipinas World and represented the country in that year’s Miss World. Parul was crowned 2014 Bb. Pilipinas Tourism and 2015 Bb. Pilipinas Grand International and placed fourth (third runner-up) in the 2015 Miss Grand International.

“In this race, it tests you in all aspects — physical, emotional,” Maggie expressed her pride over this recent achievement. Maggie and Parul did bank on their mental alertness and agility. However, as others would put it, they were destined to be TARA winners. “It is true,” said Parul. “The game also has a lot to do with luck.”

With that, it’s safe to say that Lady Luck was on Maggie and Parul’s side.

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