Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Cebu bets make a case for themselves at MUP Preliminary Interview

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman
Cebu bets make a case for themselves at MUP Preliminary Interview
Mary Josephine Paaske, Talisay City

CEBU, Philippines — Before tomorrow night’s much anticipated Miss Universe Philippines 2024 finals, the pageant’s followers got to see how the 53 candidates performed at the Preliminary Interview, streamed yesterday over Empire Philippines’ YouTube channel.

Here are the answers from Cebu’s delegates: Kris Tiffany Janson of Cebu, Victoria Leslie Ingram of Mandaue City, Mary Josephine Paaske of Talisay City, Kim Irish Placibe of Toledo City, and Juvel Mangubat Ducay of Bantayan Island:

Kris Tiffany Janson, Cebu

Janson: ‘Same woman’

Janson, 34, asked how she has changed since her stint at Miss Intercontinental 2014 where she finished first runner-up, said: “I am still the same woman who has gone through beautiful things in life. These wonderful beautiful experiences have shaped me into the woman I am now. I always wanted to find that beautiful image of a woman that wouldn’t make me feel like I was different. After these years, I finally said to myself that I am that woman who I can share with other girls who are looking for that Ate [elder sister] in their lives.”

The third-eldest of this batch, Janson said that the scrapping of the age limit gave her another shot at an unfinished business.

“Miss Universe has always been at the back of my mind. In every step that I take, I always do it with a purpose and a reason in my heart. When I did my first pageant, I did it for my father, and someone with beautiful wings [the late beauty queen maker Jonas Borces] helped me get through that,” she explained.

“Going through Miss Universe Philippines now, I want to dedicate this to that person who helped me reach that dream I wanted for my father. My mentor and my father are in heaven and I am very happy because they have the best seats as they will watching from above. Everything that I do in Miss Universe, I offer it all to them.”

On why she deserves to be the next title-holder, the former Miss Cebu said, “Miss Universe Philippines has given all these different women a platform to share their stories. I want to be the next Miss Universe Philippines because I always wanted to look for someone who may not be the same person, but I wanted to have that image that I would feel not different from everybody else,” she said.

Juvel Mangubat Ducay, Bantayan Island

Ducay: Local doctor, entrepreneur

Ducay, 28, opened her clinic right after she passed the board exam last year. Her patients are now some of her biggest pageant supporters.

“They have been sharing my posts and commenting, and it gives my heart so much gratitude because they are just not seeing me as a doctor in Bantayan Island, but as someone who influences them to be good,” she said.

She also shared how her local business of selling dried fish allowed her to finish her medical studies. “When the pandemic came, there was no income. I spent my year in Bantayan Island as I continued my med school in my third year. I did some online selling and I used dried fish as it’s one of the famous products of Bantayan Island. Because of that, I was able to buy an iPad to help me in med school,” she shared.

Being the first Bantayan Island representative for Miss Universe Philippines, Ducay hopes to build awareness that rural islands deserve quality healthcare.

“I am bringing the dreams of the Bantayan people with me and I want to show the universe how beautiful our island is. I want upgrades in the healthcare system, not just in Bantayan Island but also in the entire Philippines because when Filipinos are healthy, we become more productive and progressive.”

Victoria Leslie Ingram, Mandaue City

Ingram: Persist no matter what

Ingram, 27, lost her mother when she was three years old. She found out from relatives that her mom dreamt of her joining a pageant.

“It’s funny looking back because I am finally here as an official delegate,” she quipped. “I am sure my mother is proud and beaming with so much joy that I am making her dream come true.”

A nurse like her late mom, Ingram is also a singer and has in fact competed in It’s Showtime’s “Tawag ng Tanghalan” in 2021.

“Being a nurse was something I always wanted. Being a singer is also part of my passion. I am looking forward not only on focusing on my career as a nurse, but on exploring my singing career because that’s one way of building connections.”

The past months, Ingram said there have been instances she considered quitting the competition. But she always returns to her philosophy: persist and persist.

“I thought I would back out, but I am proud to say that I persisted. I am so proud of myself for being able to adapt so I can pursue my role as the next Miss Universe Philippines.”

Because of her relatability, Ingram feels she’s already achieved her goal. “I want to change the image of being a beauty queen. We always say that we can further our advocacy, but how can you further your advocacy if you don’t have empathy?”

“Empathy is always connected to reliability. I can’t count with my hands how many people would tell me, ‘Ang gaan ng loob ko ka sa’yo’ and it’s truly heartwarming because that has always been my ‘why’ when I joined. Receiving that feedback means I reached my goal before the pageant ended. How much more if I could expand my potential as the next Miss Universe Philippines?”

Placibe: Hardworking probinsyana

Placibe, 19, talked about taking a course on plumbing, which is normally dominated by males. “In my high school, they offered vocational courses and I was offered to take cosmetology, but I thought it was too girly for me. So I took up plumbing instead. I am the only female to get the national certificate at the age of 16,” she said.

As a result, she has become the go-to plumber in her neighborhood. “I am not just a beauty queen. Everything in the CR, I’ve already touched that,” she remarked.

That is just one aspect of her hardworking personality that she picked up when she was a kid. “I grew up in the streets. My grandmother and I would prepare lunch dishes to sell and I would wake up early to help her. We even swept the streets in our barangay,” she shared.

Should she win, Placibe hopes to inspire with how she triumphed over her humble beginnings.

“I want to tell my story about my grandmother and how I grew up in the streets as a child. I want to tell young girls that they have a place in the universe and they can be successful in life. That’s how I became a powerful probinsyana, and this powerful probinsyana can be your next Miss Universe Philippines.”

Paaske: Ukay-ukay girl

When Paaske, 21, was living in Mindanao, she couldn’t afford new clothes. In order to be stylish on a budget, she would often visit thrift shops and adjust her second-hand clothes to make herself look hip.

Elaborating on her advocacy of mental health awareness, Paaske said, “My father has mental health problems and I want those like him to be heard because I am here to listen to your voice. I believe when people struggle with mental health, they need someone to listen to. It touches me how I helped my father when I was able to listen to him and it made him a better person now.”

Paaske hopes to inspire other Filipinos to aim big with their dreams. “I have a story to share, with the universe, to millions of Filipinos to dream big and not give up. I have experienced struggles in life, but it doesn’t define me. If you get to show that you did not give up, you will achieve your dreams because you believe in yourself.” — (FREEMAN)

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