Miss Cebu 2015 Wynonah Buot: beauty, brains beyond compare
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
IT WAS her night, no doubt. She bagged the most number of awards, garnered the loudest applause. She exuded confidence that made her stand out on stage, inevitably, the crowd favourite – ensuing cheers of “Winner na!” a line that rhymes with her name. Her answer in the final Q&A sealed the deal, and that night, Jan. 14, the bewitching Wynonah Van Joy Buot, was hailed Miss Cebu 2015.
The epitome of beauty and brilliance, Wynonah seemed tailor-made for the illustrious title, yet the journey was far from easy, she revealed. A hesitant Wynonah finally decided to give it a shot, but not after some prodding of friends and family who saw her potential. Prior to Miss Cebu, Wynonah’s only experience in pageantry was winning Miss UP as a college student.
“I felt that the pageant world was so complicated for me. It’s not something I saw myself comfortable in. There are so many restrictions. You have to keep your poise all the time. You have to carry yourself well even if you’re tired. I wasn’t used to being a girly girl,” she said.
Needless to say, she got pass it, a feat she now recalls with exhilaration and fulfilment. “At first I thought it would be easy, that it’s all about putting on make-up and wearing designer clothes, but with Miss Cebu, it’s different. (It’s something we had to prepare for) physically, mentally and emotionally. We had to keep balancing those levels so when we come out on stage, we’re complete and we’re ready.”
For Wynonah, that balancing act was made more enriching with the activities they went through the last four months, starting with workshops on personal development and etiquette to discussions on governance, business and tourism. “I met different kinds of people from the Miss Cebu workshops alone,” she said. “I don’t get to meet those people on a regular basis, and the trainings we had and the people I spent it with – my co-candidates – those were what really mattered.”
Wynonah, who has also been a model of the Models Association of Cebu for the last three years, got to try another side of stage presentation as well, sharing how it was a challenge for her to shift from her modeling practices to pageantry. She said, “I had to change the way I walk, my facial expressions. As models, we’re supposed to look snobbish on stage, but in a pageant we have to smile all the time.”
It was a smile that attracted a bevy of awards, and Wynonah was hailed Best in Evening Gown, Best in Fun Wear, Miss Photogenic, Miss Friendship, Miss Ayala Fiesta Islands and Kapamilya Star of the Night, among others.
Achiever in the making
Born in Cebu with roots in Bantayan and Carmen, Wynonah moved to Saudi Arabia at age five with her parents and resided there for more than 10 years, where she consistently an academic achiever, graduated valedictorian in elementary and salutatorian in high school. She was also president of the student body and editor-in-chief for the student publication – a sense of industriousness she took with her home as she pursued her mass communication studies at the University of the Philippines Cebu, graduating with honors.
“If I didn’t join Miss Cebu, I would have continued working while fixing on my papers for Australia, since I’m planning to take my master’s degree there. I’m really focused on my education,” Wynonah said, adding that that was actually her Plan B.
So, was she expecting it, as she held on to her plaques and sashes just halfway in the show? Yes and no, she said. And the people who had cheered for her on coronation night – family and friends – were also the ones who kept her grounded. “They kept telling me that just because you won two awards at the pre-pageant doesn’t mean you will have the crown,” she said. “Miss Cebu will always look at one’s intelligence. So, I told myself to focus. If this is for me, then it will be really for me – that was all I was praying for backstage.”
The journey didn’t end there, and if anything it was only the beginning. During her reign, Wynonah will be participating in projects under the Cebu City Tourism Commission, and will also be pushing projects for her own advocacy, the environment.
“Cebu is very proactive in extending help to affected areas (of natural calamities) – that’s a good thing,” she said. “But some are not aware that we’re on the move. We’re not mobilized as a people. It’s important for us to engage ourselves in information dissemination… It’s better that there’s someone who can influence and encourage that when there are relief operations, to go out and help. We can’t just sympathize and not do anything.”
This early, some are already eyeing the 21-year-old to represent Cebu in nationwide pageants, soon. “I think I’m (ready),” Wynonah said. “When you’re asked to represent your city, that’s a privilege. Not everyone gets to be chosen. And with Cebu, I wouldn’t think twice of representing it. It’s a power city.”
Photos: Junmar Sprite G. Dulosa | Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo | Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas
Assistants: Angelica Fernandez, Jem Felicilda and Joan Navaja, Interns
Designer: Griffins Malazarte | Locale: Fort San Pedro