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Janine and Ariella reflect on life after Miss Universe, offer advice on aspiring beauty queens

DIRECT LINE CONVERSATIONS - Boy Abunda - The Philippine Star
Janine and Ariella reflect on life after Miss Universe, offer advice on aspiring beauty queens
Beauty queens Janine Tugonon and Ariella ‘Ara’ Arida fared well in the Miss Universe beauty pageant in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Janine placed first runner-up in the 2012 Miss Universe tilt while Ariella repre- sented the Philippines the following year and finished third runner-up. They recently sat down for The Talk segment of ‘Fast Talk With Boy Abunda’ and both ladies gladly remi- nisced about their journey as Miss U candidates.
STAR / File

There’s no doubt beauty pageant aficionados still remember how beauty queens Janine Tugonon and Ariella “Ara” Arida fared well in the Miss Universe beauty pageant in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Janine placed first runner-up in the 2012 Miss Universe tilt while Ariella represented the Philippines the following year and finished third runner-up. They recently sat down for The Talk segment of “Fast Talk With Boy Abunda” and both ladies gladly reminisced about their journey as Miss Universe candidates.

Janine transported the viewers back to the time when she was standing on stage and face-to-face with Miss USA Olivia Culpo with their hands holding each other tight as they waited for the announcement of the winner.

“Actually, the big part of what I felt at that time was that I was gonna win,” began Janine who just came back home after staying in the US for a decade. “Of course, I hoped for that. I think I did pretty well in the Q&A (question and answer) so I thought I was gonna win but I wasn’t announced. But I was still happy that I made it to the Top 3,” she added.

Yours truly was a judge when Ariella joined Binibining Pilipinas Pageant and walked away with the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe crown. Her prayer played a big role in her joining the contest.

“I wouldn’t be in Binibini without that prayer because I really asked for a sign if I was gonna join Binibining Pilipinas since I came from Miss Philippines Earth (2012) and I didn’t win,” ruminated Ara.

“Then opportunities came and people would ask me to join Binibini but me, I didn’t see myself joining until I prayed for the sign that if this guy would approach me, then I’d join. The guy was Jonas Gaffud and he approached me. I got goosebumps. I told myself there’s no turning back because God gave me the sign, I really had to do it,” she furthered.

Her initial goal in the Binibing Pilipinas tilt was to be in the Top 15 which she successfully did and again, her prayer was heard when she got to represent the Philippines in the Miss Universe competition.

“I was the last one to be called as a semi-finalist and I was like, ‘Lord, have me in the Top 15 until the Top 5’ and it happened!

“What I forgot to pray for was for the Lord to give me the Miss Universe (crown) because I prayed for me not to buckle in the question and answer (portion), and I was heard. I didn’t buckle at ako pa ‘yung nag-iisang (finalist) nag-English. Doon ko talaga napatunayan that you really have to hold on to prayer,” Ara stated.

Janine also believes in the power of prayer. “I can’t live a life without Jesus. It’s really the life I meant to live – believing in Him. So, if my life is without Him, then that’s not a life at all. It’s really important that in every decision I make, talagang may dasal.”

Life after Miss Universe turned out fabulous for both Janine and Ara. The former went to the US for some modeling stints while the latter was offered to join local show business.

Janine did some commercial shoots for Victoria’s Secret and worked with Macy’s as well. She enjoyed the experience of living and working abroad although she couldn’t say that everything came easy for her. “When I was starting, it wasn’t an easy road even though I had the title. It wasn’t easy but it’s fun.”

Ara was working as a chemist prior to becoming a beauty queen. Thus, her family didn’t expect to see her on TV doing acting and hosting stints.

“Before Miss Universe, I was doing corporate work na chemistry stuff so, this industry is very different. That’s why after winning talagang (life) turned 180 degrees. I got to meet the people I was just watching before. Alam mo ‘yung talagang I’m a probinsyana na sobrang nahihiya to meet people and say hi and hello but it’s such a blessing because I got into hosting, and acting as well so who would’ve thought na kaya ko palang gawin ‘yung mga bagay na ‘yun,” said Ara, a graduate of University of the Philippines Los Baños with a degree in chemistry.

Given their beauty, is finding love easier or harder?

“When I was younger, I found it easier and then when you grow (old), you somewhat also raise your standards for men. And with our status, ‘pag nasa Pilipinas ka parang it’s hard to find someone na parang swak sa gusto mo,” replied Ara.

For her part, Janine said, “I don’t find it hard. I think the hard part is staying together and keeping the relationship forever because the more you get to know each other, the more you see things in each other.”

Meanwhile, Janine and Ara shared their thoughts on the new rule of the Miss Universe Organization removing the age limit for candidates.

Janine said she supports whatever the Miss Universe Organization decides but the first time she heard about the scrapping the age restrictions, she was a bit surprised.

“I’m gonna be honest, with the age limit, when I first heard it, I was a little bit like, ‘Really? No age limit? Would it be fair? Because it feels different, especially (since) I’ve been in the modeling world as well. It feels different when you’re older than the rest or when you’re younger than the rest.

“For me, I was like. I hope there would still be some standards in terms of age but I’ll support either way,” stated Janine.

Ara, on the other hand, agreed to what Janine said and at the same time, she recognized the effort of the organization to adapt to the changes brought about by modern times.

“Just like life today, it seems everything is going to technology and all that we have to adapt. And so, at one point or another, I know the organization wants to be more inclusive, so parang dun talaga ‘yung path ng Miss Universe.”

She continued, “With the age, as long as may limit pa rin kasi I’m just sharing my story during our time. Kung walang age limit Tito Boy, I wouldn’t push myself to join the pageant because I would think that was my last year to join so it forced me in a way to really reach that goal of mine.”

On their pieces of advice to those who want to join beauty pageants, Janine offered, “Don’t waste time. I know a lot of young people think, ‘Oh, I have so much time, I’m still young’ but don’t waste time so you can do training, and learn about the world, experience life because that will help you a lot in the future.”

Ara emphasized self-love. “Whatever you want to do to reach your dreams, especially to those who want to become beauty queens, don’t forget self-love and know yourself more.”

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JANINE TUGONON

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