Pasigarbo sa Sugbo Festival Queen:Last-minute bet prevails over more prepared candidates
Karla Rule (The Freeman) - August 25, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  After sleepless nights, Marla Pino Alforque was finally able to breathe easy as she gave the City of Carcar reason to celebrate when she bested 28 other candidates to win Pasigarbo sa Sugbo Festival Queen 2019.

Known as the festival of festivals in the province of Cebu, the return of Pasigarbo sa Sugbo boasted radiant festival queens out of 44 competing contingents. During Friday’s coronation night at the Cebu City Sports Center, Marla not only clinched the crown and P20,000, she was also awarded Best in Group Production Presentation, and Best in Festival Costume which came with P10,000, and P20,000 respectively.

Clad in her heavyweight Kabkaban Festival Queen gown, Marla, 23, told reporters how she only had four days to train for the competition, having been invited to join at the eleventh hour, specifically on August 19, which was the day before the Pasigarbo sa Sugbo Festival Queen press presentation at SM Seaside City Cebu.

The public school teacher admitted that she was ill at ease coming into the field with very little preparation.

“Nahadlok kaayo ko,” the Technology and Livelihood Education teacher at Tal-ut National High School sheepishly said. “Wala kaayo ko nakatulog. Kailangan nako mag-practice even sa balay inig uli nako, bisag gabii na. Kinahanglan ko mu-train kay four days nalang baya and the other candidates grabe na kaayo ilang preparation and busy sad ko og himo’g grado so kinahanglan gyud tunga-tungaon akong oras.”

Despite winning 2017’s Sinulog Festival Queen and Reyna ng Aliwan competitions, as well as making it to the Top 10 of Miss Philippines Earth last year, the native of Valencia, Carcar City didn’t expect anything coming into Pasigarbo sa Sugbo Festival Queen, which is why she feels ecstatic after actually winning the crown. The pressure from supporters and followers of her pageant journey did not go amiss for Marla as well.

“The best lesson is, salig lang sa kaugalingon kay wala may lain musalig nimo kung dili ikaw. Ikaw ma’y magdala sa imong kaugalingon, ang nagpakita ug nagpresentar diri sa stage,” she said.

Marla said it felt different not dancing with the Sto. Nino image, which had accompanied her in previous competitions. This time around, she relied on prayers and a picture of the late Archbishop Teofilo Camomot, a fellow Carcar native on his way to sainthood, whose photograph Marla keeps in her pocket at all times to keep her fears and doubts at bay.

The Education graduate from the Cebu Technological University Argao Campus, who had to entrust her students to a substitute teacher while she prepared for the tilt, looks forward to seeing more of Cebu. She also hopes to teach her class about the sights and sounds she’s about to experience as she assumes the duties that come with her new title.

“It takes courage and determination…someone who knows how to dance gracefully and someone who trusts herself no matter what happens,” she said when asked to describe a festival queen.

After her much-needed rest since competing for MPE, Marla confirmed that she will be representing Carcar in this year’s Binibining Cebu.

Cheering on the stands for Marla was her friend, the reigning Reyna ng Aliwan and Sinulog Festival Queen Nicole Borromeo, who will be representing Cebu for Eat Bulaga’s Miss Millennial Philippines and who also danced for Carcar in January’s Sinulog Festival Queen competition, making this year a back-to-back festival win for the Heritage City of Cebu.

“I was in awe of her, honestly. During my Sinulog journey, I had Marla with me, to guide me through it. And seeing her on stage live, performing up there it was just amazing for me. I’m really proud of her. She deserves it,” said Nicole.

Trailing behind Marla was Minganilla’s Kiara Wellington of the Sugat Kabanhawan Festival as first runner-up.

Talisay City bet Jesselle Saniel wasn’t able to defend her city’s claim to the crown, finishing second runner-up with an award for Best Solo Performer as Halad Inasal Festival’s lead dancer.

Finishing third runner-up is Toledo City’s Charlene Canoy for her Hinulawan Festival performance, while fourth runner-up is Argao’s Hydie Sarcauga who represented the La Torta Festival.

The coronation night was judged by Angelo Manapsal, Marichu Tellano, Shirley Halili Cruz, Corazon Agustin, and Kris Tiffany Janson according to beauty, face and figure, group production presentation, and solo presentation.

Other victors include designer Richardson Apayla as Best Festival Costume Designer for the gown worn by Canoy, Kefaia Al-zair of Sibonga’s Bonga Festival as

Miss Photogenic, Evwina Basan of San Fernando’s Sikoy-sikoy Festival as Miss Friendship and Gabriella Ceniza Carballo of Mandaue City’s Panagtagbo Festival as Best in Fun Wear.

This year marks the return of Pasigarbo sa Sugbo, the gathering of Cebu’s festivals. The Festival Queen competition is the search for the best female lead dancer who best represents the understanding of diversity and values of all the festivals in Cebu. Highlighting dance to promote responsibility and leadership, as well as to prepare and inspire future citizens of Cebu, the tilt is the province’s way of promoting itself through celebrating the meaning and beauty of festivals.

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