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Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Phoebe Godinez: Beauty queen and aspiring social entrepreneur

Vanessa A. Balbuena - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Phoebe Godinez initially hesitated to sign up last year for yet another pageant, knowing how “stressful” it can get.

The Cebuana beauty queen from Lapu-Lapu City has had her fair share of pageant stints: she’s Miss Lapu-Lapu City 2016 4th runner-up, Binibining Toledo 2017, a Miss Mandaue 2018 finalist, and a Sinulog Festival Queen 2019 second runner-up. She also joined Binibining Cebu’s inaugural edition but withdrew since she had to focus on graduating from senior high school.

“This industry is no joke, really,” she told The FREEMAN in an interview.

“But when I realized I’m still young and I can still make use of my time and my youth, I joined Hiyas ng Pilipinas. It is new and I also heard what happened with Eva, and partly, I wanted to support Ate Eva with her project,” added Phoebe, referencing Hiyas ng Pilipinas National Director Eva Patalinjug’s resignation from the beleaguered Magandang Filipinas pageant.

Of nine Cebuana finalists at the maiden edition of Hiyas ng Pilipinas – the first Cebu-based national pageant – Phoebe was the lone candidate who finished with a crown. She now holds the title of Miss Tourism International Queen 2022, earning her to right to represent the country at the Miss Tourism International Queen pageant that’s projected to hold its finals this December.

After two years struggling with the rest of the world due to the pandemic, it’s looking to be an eventful 2022 for Phoebe. Aside from winning her first national crown, she’s also set to graduate from college this June with a Mass Communications degree from Cebu Normal University.

Phoebe shared that while she’ll soon have a Mass Communications diploma, she’s more bent on pursuing a career in social entrepreneurship.

“I don’t exactly have an ultimate dream. But I do want to own a business in the future. I just need to figure out what that is. Now I’m sort of leaning towards social entrepreneurship,” said Phoebe, who has been modelling since 2016, and is also fond of drawing digitally.

“I’m looking forward to working with my Q&A mentor and personality development trainer, Dexter Alazas, who is also into culture and local crafts. Actually I like promoting local crafts. In fact, that might be something I’ll be into.”

After graduation, the plan is to help out Alazas, a known fashion designer, with his new business Shop and Share where “he’ll gather local artisans from different municipalities, and showcase their local crafts and sell them. Especially the local artisans that are not known who need livelihood.”

Phoebe was on the path towards a medical course, taking up STEM during senior high. But, as she put it, “life happened.”

“It was because of a lot of family problems, mostly financial. When parents are separated of course you’d want both parents to provide for you. That was a problem with one of the parties where it was difficult for them to shell out money when they had the ability to,” said Phoebe, whose parents are annulled. She has one brother, and four half-siblings on her father’s side.

“Mass Comm is just there for me to graduate from college and my mom also took the same course. I was just going with what she advised me to do,” she added. “Your diploma doesn’t always speak for what you will do in the future. It’s like your diskarte what you will do after.”

Asked how 2020 had been for year, Phoebe candidly shared how she went through a lot of family problems, foremost of which were constant clashes with her mother in part because of the stresses that came with pageantry.

“This is very personal but I just want to share that we did go through some things, and we realized there are some things we can’t get along with. It was very stressful that time so we decided to live apart,” said Phoebe.

“That’s why I was skeptical in joining a pageant again. I know it would put a lot of pressure on me and maybe the relationships of other people.”

They’ve since patched up, and Phoebe is glad how she has a protector in an industry that can sometimes lead young girls who don’t know better astray.

“Now we’re okay. We’ve made up and we’re close, but we realize that we need boundaries. We’ve opened up and we’re so much better, more understanding of what we both want,” she said.

“There are some people who have issues with my mom being there. But when I think about it, my mom is my manager. She’s the one making decisions for me because she knows what’s best. If I let someone else handle me, they’re not my family, and at the end of the day, they’re only gonna think of their lives.”

“I understand that she wants her way sometimes, but then those people who may disagree, I also question their intention because if they do not want my mom to be there to protect me, what intentions do they have that it’s not safe for my parent to be there?”

At 23, Phoebe has a long way ahead in terms of her pageant shelf life. In this journey, she said it’s Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s level that she aspires for.

“The fact that she’s well-spoken and everything seems perfect. She’s like the perfect beauty queen for me because she’s talented, charitable, she has her own projects. And when she speaks, it’s like she’s read the questions ahead of time – but it sounds so natural.”

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