Joji Velarde, patron of beauty, 73
() - May 25, 2009 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Joji Felix Velarde, an icon in the fashion and beauty pageant scene, died last Thursday at the age of 73.

Fondly called Tita Joji, she was the vice president for external affairs of Carousel Productions, producer of the Miss Philippines-Earth and Miss Earth beauty pageants.

An accomplished ballerina, child actress, top fashion model and perennial cover girl, Velarde was considered a second mother by many national and international beauty queens.

A beauty queen herself, she won the first Miss Caltex RPM in the 1950s and her image was used in every Caltex station in the country.

Velarde was also crowned the first Miss Aviation in 1954 and after her career as a model, she got involved and active in the Mutya ng Pilipinas and Miss Philippines-Earth beauty pageants, honing many aspiring national beauty queens until the very end.

The STAR’s entertainment’ Funfare “beauty experts” led by the quartet of Felix Manuel, Joey Cezeare, Gery Yunping and Francis Calubaquid regard Velarde as a woman of substance whom they constantly run to for beauty advices and life lessons as well.

“We will miss those small conversations during rehearsal lulls wherein she would advice us how to instill discipline among the ladies without becoming overpowering, like the way she does it; Or how pageant experts should archive clippings in order for the next generation to see then; her views on politics and life in general. Every moment that we spent with her were filled with lessons that we would forever cherish,” they said.

Manuel, a registered nurse in New York, remembered his last conversation with Velarde who told him to chase his dreams but never forget to look back at the friends and people who helped him along the way.

“On a personal note, during my last conversation with her after the finals of the 2008 Miss Philippines Earth pageant, before I left to work here in New York, Tita Joji told me, ‘Felix, you should enjoy what life offers you; you may be away from your family, friends and your beloved pageant scene, but always remember to look back, remember the people who worked with you here, think of all the good times all of us shared during the different pageants, I am sure it will make you smile. I love New York and I will cherish my stay there but I love my country more’… that’s why I am so proud that the Miss Earth pageant is always held here in the Philippines, it shows our country to the rest of the world, giving people an idea how beautiful this country is,” Manuel said.

BEAUTY CAROUSEL PRODUCTIONS FELIX MANUEL GERY YUNPING AND FRANCIS CALUBAQUID JOEY CEZEARE JOJI FELIX VELARDE MANUEL MISS MISS AVIATION NEW YORK VELARDE
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