Freeman Cebu Entertainment

USJ-R IT major crowned Miss Mandaue 2014

Vanessa Balbuena - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Just when everyone thought the early frontrunner had the crown in the bag, a deadringer for Janine Tugonon was instead declared the surprise winner during Wednesday night’s Miss Mandaue 2014 pageant held at the Mandaue City Sports Complex.

Lou Dominique Piczon, 18, beat crowd favorite Melody Esther Hodgson for the title and nabbed three other special awards in the process, namely, Best in Opening Production, Best in Runway Haute Couture and Ms. NGenius (Online Voting by Ng Khai).

Adapting a points-based system this year, the pageant began with an announcement that Hodgson topped the ranking, followed by April Ann Claire White in second place – based on pre-pageant activities that included the Talents Night, Media’s Choice Selection and a Fitness competition.

Meanwhile, the coronation night was divided into three segments where the 12 finalists had to compete to get the highest points: the Runway Haute Couture, the Question and Answer, and the Evening Gown.

First to be called during the Q&A, Piczon picked a question penned by Old Cebu historian Gavin Sanson Bagares, asking whether she thought Mandaue’s past is still relevant to its present. The dusky beauty confidently replied in part, “Yes, because history is what made Mandaue what it is right now.”

Miss Mandaue is Piczon’s seventh pageant; the title is her second, after winning Miss Catbalogan City Athletic Association in 2008.

She is an incoming third year Information Technology student at the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R), where she’s also a Student Council House Representative.

“I still can’t believe that it’s me. After doubting myself, all my hard work these past two months have paid off,” said the five-foot-seven OZAR model who was outfitted in a Manuel Tumaque sparkly silver gown.

Piczon hails from Catbalogan City, Samar and currently resides in Lawaan, Talisay.

She hopes to pursue a career as a web developer, while espousing for her advocacy of providing education for the less fortunate.

“As a student leader, I think education is one of the best gifts a person can receive. I hope I can conduct basic education seminars to those who can’t afford to go to school,” said Piczon, who considered Hodgson and Castro as her strongest competitors for the Miss Mandaue crown.

First runner-up honors went to April Ann Claire White. The 22-year-old nurse first joined Miss Mandaue in 2010 but was unplaced. She was also a 2012 Miss Cebu finalist.

Hodgson, 18, placed second runner-up. She was also selected Miss Casino Femme, Miss Skycable, Best in Talent and Darling of the Press. A second year Psychology student at the University of San Carlos (USC), this Fil-Brit earlier gave up her slot as a Miss Teen Philippines Central Visayas finalist since it conflicted with her schedules for Miss Mandaue. She does not regret her decision though, thinking that “it’s simply not my time yet.”

Third runner-up is Mikee Kristine Beltran, 18, a third year Mass Communications student at USJ-R. She was also chosen Miss Congeniality and Best in Evening Gown (designed by Danny Booc).

Completing the winner’s circle is twenty-year-old Aivy Mae Castro in the fourth runner-up spot, plus awards for Miss Photogenic and Miss Lecit-E. She is an Accountancy student at USC.

Other awardees were Mae Samantha dela Peña for Texter’s Choice by Smart and Maria Fatima Alsowyed as Ms. Gems and Designs.

The annual pageant’s Sapphire edition began with a bang, as the event unveiled for the first time the city’s upbeat “I Am Mandaue” theme song in the opening production number, with the 12 finalists sashaying in sapphire dresses designed by Rey Humberto Villegas.

Going down memory lane, a slideshow of previous Mandaue queens – the first one crowned in 1970 – was featured to highlight the event’s 45th anniversary.

Judges included Miss Tourism International 2012 Rizzini Alexis Gomez, Mr. International 2013 fourth runner-up Gil Wagas and renowned designer Cary Santiago, while the evening’s hosts were Vince Escario, Miss Mandaue 2007 Sian Maynard and Jonathan Cimafranca.

Screams later on erupted as Cebuano actor Enrique Gil of ABS-CBN’s “Mirabella” performed his dance hits. (FREEMAN)


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