Outgoing Sinulog Festival Queen Julienne Penserga leaves a graceful mark
By Deneb R. Batucan
GRACE, beauty and a steadfast devotion for Cebu’s patron, the Santo Niño —these are the qualities Julienne “Yanny” Penserga has. And as the outgoing Sinulog Festival Queen, she continues to exhibit these characteristics in each move she makes. The light in her eyes tells of a young woman’s love for her city and, most especially, her city’s patron.
Yanny, a mass communication student, was chosen to represent Tribu Himag-ulaw, the Sinulog contingent from Placer, Masbate. A devotee of the Santo Niño, she was beyond honored to have been chosen as the festival queen in 2015. “I am thankful because it has always been my dream since grade school to dance in the Sinulog parade. My family has always been devotees of Sr. Santo Niño and to be able to dance with him is a major check in my life’s bucket list,” Yanny said.
Dancing in front of millions of parade goers was both amazing and nerve-wracking for Yanny. “I became too conscious of my actions and became more aware if I’m dancing properly because all those people watching me could criticize me,” she said.
But even though she felt self-conscious, she felt privileged to be dancing wi
h the Santo Niño. “The street dancing was exhausting but all I thought was that it was my offering to Santo Niño. That I kept going. The crowd helped me also. They gave me the adrenaline rush to push through,” she said.
Dancing from the heart
For Yanny, being the Sinulog Festival Queen 2015 was more than just winning a pageant. It meant being an ambassadress of the Sinulog Festival.
“She should not join the competition just because of the title, money or fame but because she wants to honor the Child Jesus. The search for the Sinulog Festival Queen is not like any typical beauty pagaent. The winner should know how to properly dance the Sinulog. But grace alone is not enough as a factor to win. She must dance in a way that the people can feel that she’s dancing from the heart for the Santo Niño. This quality can be seen in her eyes and how she carries the image as she dances,” she shared, wise words her successor (crowned only last Friday, as of press time) would do well to imbibe.
Earning the crown meant a whole new set of responsibilities and perks for Yanny. She attended the Purwakarta World Culture Festival in Indonesia and the Wonju Dynamic Festival in South Korea as the representative of Cebu and the Sinulog Festival. “The experience was a window for me to learn about the culture of other countries. When I was in Indonesia, which is a Muslim country, people pointed at Santo Niño as a doll. I explained to them that it’s a depiction of Baby Jesus,” she said.
During her visits, Yanny felt the responsibility of being the medium for other countries to learn more about the vast and colorful culture of the Philippines. Aside from her out-of-the-country adventures, Yanny was also invited as a judge for several pageants inside and outside of Cebu, which made her feel really good since she felt like she was helping other girls like herself who aspire to become beauty queens.
Ever since she hit her teenage years, Yanny has been striving to win pageants. She entered school organized pageants like Miss UP, which she won in 2014, and also corporate and government organized pageants like Ms. Badian Tourism 2014, which she won, and Ms. Casino Filipino 2014, where she placed third.
Joining pageants is her source for extra income. She hopes to pay her college education through her pageant wins so to help her family financially. She feels that it’s important to help her family even as early as now as a way of giving back for the sacrifices her parents’ has made for her and her siblings.
Along with her great looks are the smarts that make her a truly remarkable woman. After she graduates from the University of the Philippines-Cebu with a degree in mass communication, Yanny has her eyes set on law school.
“But I might work for a couple of years before proceeding to law. I would probably work as a feature writer or as a personnel in corporate communication to save up for law school. After law, in God’s will, I’ll become a lawyer and be part of a stable law firm,” said Yanny, an honor student and dean’s lister.
And with beauty and brains like Yanny’s, her dreams are never impossible to reach. Yes, she has beauty and a good brain to match, but most importantly, Yanny has a steadfast faith in the Lord and in the Señor Santo Niño. With these qualities, Yanny’s future looks as bright as her smile.
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas
Locale: Calyx Residences