Ladies of the land

By Patricia May P. Catan and Christian Jay B. Quilo
With Irene Mariell Labucay and Naomi Jemimah Liao, STC MassCom Interns

 

LAST October, we bore witness to the coronation of Cebu’s newest ambassadors in the second year of the Binibining Cebu pageant. After months of searching for rightful individuals to represent Cebu, amid intensive screening, training and pocket competitions leading to the big announcement, five strong and stunning women came out on top. Epitomizing beauty, wit and most of all, heart, meet the reigning Binibining Cebu and her court:

Steffi Rose Aberasturi
Binibining Cebu 2018

Steffi Rose Aberasturi

Aberasturi is not a new face in the pageantry scene, but the latest Binibining Cebu was her first pageant after years of hiatus. Aberasturi said her decision to join this year’s pageant was not because of the crown but for the direction it can give her. She wishes to make a big difference and take a leap towards her goals in life, and Binibining Cebu allows her to do just that. “I believe Binibining Cebu opens doors for more productive opportunities that will enable my skills and capabilities to be shared across the island,” says Aberasturi.

Long before the screening schedule for Binibining Cebu was announced, Aberasturi already had her mind fixed and even took the liberty of calling her handler. “I was excited and scared at the same time because I stopped joining pageants for a while. But I was so eager to join and make my family and friends proud of me once again,” Aberasturi shares. She adds that her family and friends helped boost her confidence.

The decision to join the pageant was only the first step, and next was the grueling preparation process. Like any other beauty pageant contestant, Aberasturi visited the gym thrice a week and did trainings with her Kagandahang Flores family, on top of practices with the other 52 contestants. “It was tiring but nothing in life comes easy, so I just had fun all throughout the competition and grabbed the chance to know my 52 sisters better,” Aberasturi reveals. She never saw Binibining Cebu as a competition but an opportunity to make friends and improve herself.

Aside from bringing her name to the pageant, Aberasturi also represented the city of Mandaue, which she says offers fun activities, festivals like the Mantawi Festival, delicacies like bibingka, a colorful history, and diverse arts and culture. “Mandaue may be far from pristine beaches or magnificent mountains, but what makes it beautiful is the preservation of its colonial-era gems that can be found at the very heart of the city,” Aberasturi adds.

Aberasturi never expected to win the Binibining Cebu 2018 crown, but Aberasturi’s name was called at the end. “I wasn’t able to control my emotions and cried on stage. Prayers are really powerful and it can move mountains.”

Now with a crown on her head, Aberasturi is in the process of coordinating with the people of Mandaue for future projects. And for a bigger advocacy as a beauty queen, she plans to revive and cultivate the art of weaving. With plans and an advocacy in discussion for her reign, Binibining Cebu has taught Aberasturi to be more responsible in her everyday actions and to humble herself before others.

Aberasturi’s journey as a beauty queen doesn’t end on the last day of her reign for she plans to compete at a national level, with Pia Wurtzbach as her inspiration. “She is very determined in achieving her dreams and making a positive mark in this world. I hope to follow her footsteps one day because it’s not the longevity that I seek or a life well lived but a legacy I can carve and leave.”

Kimberly Covert
Binibining Cebu Tourism 2018

Kimberly Covert

Timing, as they say, is everything. For Binibining Cebu Tourism 2018 Kimberly Covert, the much-anticipated pageant could not have come at a more auspicious point in her life. “It was an opportunity that presented itself in the perfect time. I found myself and my true purpose, so this time, I came back prepared.”

This is not Covert’s first pageant. In fact, she has competed in over 10 pageants, mostly around her hometown Negros but most notably in Miss Philippines Earth 2014, the last one she competed in before Binibining Cebu, wherein she was crowned Miss Philippines Earth Water. Roughly four years after her pageantry hiatus, she comes back with a renewed sense of determination in Binibining Cebu.

Unbeknownst to many, Covert had just given birth to a beautiful baby boy named Sol six months prior to the start of the competition. She admits, “It was a challenge for me to become prepared physically, but I put my heart and mind to it!” With her life partner and son in tow, she left San Diego, California and moved to the Philippines to compete in the pageant. As soon as she arrived, she wasted no time and hit the ground running, training and preparing for the swimsuit competition and coronation night. It was definitely a challenge for Covert as she juggled her responsibilities as a mother and commitments to Binibining Cebu. More than getting physically ready, it was also a matter of being in the right head space. “I changed my lifestyle. I woke up every day with a goal in mind. I started working out and eating well. It was a lot of mental preparation.”

Aside from her own training and preparation, Covert’s strong support system was also integral to her Binibining Cebu journey. While she vied for the crown and was busy with events and rehearsals, her life partner Ben, who she considers “her rock”, took care of their son. The 23 year old is also grateful to her modeling agency Origin Model Management for having her back throughout the duration of the competition. “It was a team effort from day one,” Covert muses.

For Binibining Cebu 2018, Covert represents Alegria, a municipality on the southern side of Cebu. On what she loves about it, she says: “It’s a humble town with amazing waterfalls and rivers. The locals built up events and activities for all who visit to enjoy and have fun. It’s a whole day adventure if you go to Alegria.”

To curious travelers, it may be the bounty and beauty of nature that draw them to Alegria but for Covert, it’s less of the touristy stuff and more of the core of what makes Alegria what it is. “It’s the simplicity of the town, the serenity and good vibrations you get — and the people.”

As part of her duties as Binibining Cebu Tourism, Covert is currently working towards launching a program called Melody Makers, which aims to get the youth more exposed and involved in arts and music. “As a beauty queen, I’m here to make a good difference in this world even if it’s just inspiring one person.”

On her journey as a Binibini: “It’s been a great start of the reign and a good end to this year. It’s given me chances to show this side of the world to Ben and my son. Working hand in hand with some of the most talented people in the Philippines is an honor.”

On top of her maternal duties, she has charity events, press functions, and projects with the municipality of Alegria lined up in the coming months. Surely, 2019 will be a busy year for Covert but she’s rolling with the punches and is excited to create and build as many meaningful initiatives as she can during her reign.

Kimberly Covert’s resurgence in the pageantry industry was certainly a move that rewarded her well. However, her new title and crown is not the end of a goal, but rather a stepping stone towards a much greater journey. While she has no plans set in stone just yet, this will certainly not be the last time we’ll see of this stunning Cebuana. “I will go wherever life takes me. I’ll go for all that is best for myself and my family. This might not be my last pageant — we’ll see!”

Tracy Maureen Perez
Binibining Cebu Charity 2018

Tracy Maureen Perez

Perez only made it to the top 12 during last year’s Binibining Cebu pageant, but her fighting spirit wasn’t ready to back down just yet. She decided to join Binibining Cebu for the second time around this year and she finally won a crown as Binibining Cebu Charity 2018.

“When I didn’t make it last year, I’ve always had this voice in my head telling me that I should try again, that I should try one last time. That, with the persuasion of my supportive family, friends, team (Origin Modeling Management), and with my dream to win a crown here (at home) in Cebu, I decided to give the pageant another shot,” shares Perez.

Being a returnee took a lot of hard work, dedication and fighting spirit. Perez says that most of the time she’d feel so happy and just enjoyed every part of performing, but there were also times when she’d feel tired and pressured to make it.

However, a resilient Perez came to show up. “I stood my ground, fought every single day with determination, remembering that I am not doing this just for myself but also for the people who not even once doubted me and for the people whose lives I may be able to change through Binibining Cebu,” reveals Perez. “I did my best to live a healthier lifestyle, to feed my mind with more knowledge and positivity, and to always keep my eyes on the goal.”

Perez in this year’s pageant represented the municipality of Madridejos, one of the three islands that make up the island of Bantayan. She finds Madridejos as a beautiful and peaceful place with welcoming people.

“It is literally the farthest from the city and is the best place to unwind. People should come visit so they could disconnect from the fast-paced world and reconnect with their inner selves, which we all need from time to time. This is also what I love most about Madridejos. It gives me peace and a reminder to always appreciate even the smallest things in life,” shares Perez.

From winning a title last October, the pageant has opened her eyes to a whole new world filled with opportunities and new beginnings. “I was able to meet and be friends with new, wonderful and talented people. I was able to reach out to more people, inspire and be inspired by them. I was given the chance to work on more projects, and lastly, I am now being called Binibining Cebu Charity 2018.”

Working on an advocacy close to her heart, Perez shares that she advocates helping street children and orphans to have a chance at a better future through education. “I want to be able to help these children have a chance at a better future through education, the same chance that I was given when my relatives helped me go to school after my mother passed.”

Perez plans to create a project relating to her advocacy of helping the community with the aid and guidance of the Binibining Cebu Foundation for the entire duration of her reign. “I will also take part in events and missions of the foundation fulfilling my role as Binibining Cebu Charity,” she adds.

Her second undertaking for a title this year was a success and while she has a lot of plans laid out after her reign, she now aims for a larger stage at the nationals just like what her late mom did when she represented Davao for Binibining Pilipinas during her time. “I still am unsure wherever the wind would take me, but I am positive that I will give it my best try may it be being a beauty queen, a career woman, or both.”

Lou Dominique Piczon
Binibining Cebu Heritage 2018

Lou Dominique Piczon

Binibining Cebu Heritage 2018 Lou Dominique Piczon proves that joining the Binibining Cebu pageant is indeed sweeter the second time around. “I was convinced by my manager, Danny Booc, to give the crown a second try, and fortunately, I finally landed one of the titles. I also considered it as reinventing myself from my performance last year. I felt like I didn’t really give it my 100 percent, and after so much deliberation, I finally decided to screen again.”

Piczon opened up that the experience was nerve-wracking for her and the usual questions that would run through her head doubled because Binibining Cebu was the first pageant she joined twice. “The ultimate ‘what if’ was, ‘What if I don’t make it again?’ I could only imagine how devastating that would be. Thank God I made it! But setting feelings aside, I also really enjoyed this year compared to last year mainly because of the ladies in this batch. They made me feel more comfortable and welcomed. The tension amongst us was also noticeably less.”

Preparing for a beauty pageant may entail months of commitment, and for Piczon, she made sure that she was well-prepared in all aspects. To make sure that she was in good shape, she had the body goal of working out every day during her free time. Mentally, she always had her nose under reading materials on different issues to practice the Q&A portion. She would let others ask her questions just so she could get used to delivering a good answer.

Piczon and her family are devotees of the Señor Sto. Niño and to help her prepare for the pageant, she would pray constantly and visit the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño Church saying, “it helps me unwind and relax.” Piczon also strongly adheres to two advocacies close to her: mental health awareness and anti-bullying.

Representing the municipality of Ronda, she is more than proud to say the town is the place of solitude you might be ooking for. “It is a humble town where you can spend your days without worrying about anything. You could feed your taste buds on the sweetest humba ever served.” Piczon expounds: “Aside from the very welcoming Rondahanons, the town is blessed with simplicity and mystery that one has to keep unfolding. I, myself, had discovered everything I know now about Ronda through my visits, and friends from Ronda whom I’ve met during Binibining Cebu.”

After being crowned Binibining Cebu Heritage 2018 a month ago, Piczon is looking forward to a lot of things. She’s a queen who cannot wait for the good things to come. “Definitely more upcoming events, but on top of that, each of us had been given a budget for our municipality as part of our major prizes. We can use that for our chosen projects on our respective municipalities or on any activity that we plan on doing. We’ve been planning things out whenever we can with the Binibining Sugbu Foundation, something Sugbuhanons could look forward to from all five of us.”

Piczon’s plans after her reign? “I’ve got tons on my mind of the things I want to do. I want to travel more, if the time and budget allows it. I also want to take a short break on pageant life and maybe apply for a job. But I’m also eyeing a screening for Binibining Pilipinas. Who knows? The best is yet to come.”

Isabella Deutsch
Binibining Cebu Ecology 2018

Isabella Deutsch

Being one of the youngest and a first timer are not at all a disadvantage in beauty pageants. Binibining Cebu Ecology 2018 winner Isabela Deutsch proved just that. From the municipality of Borbon, 18-year-old Isabella was just one of the people in the crowd in last year’s Binibining Cebu pageant. Her willingness to serve was the main reason she decided to no longer be a part of the audience but to be standing on stage competing at this year’s Binibining Cebu pageant. She has always seen pageants as an aid to become closer to her community and an outlet in order to help others.

Some may think becoming one of the queens doesn’t require too much hard work as they are only expected to always look their best. Aside from physically maintaining one’s appearance, Deutsch shared, she also had to take care of her mind as well and train herself to remain kind, disciplined and to always stay calm at any given situation. The preparations she did was almost more of beautifying herself from within.

The journey to becoming a queen wasn’t easy. Deutsch shared how grateful she felt for being a part of such a once-in-a-lifetime experience. She learned many things because of the pageant that truly changed who she was as a person and her outlook on life, saying, “I have seen a different perspective in the world of pageantry. It is never about fame, but it is about the willingness to serve.”

After winning the title her desire to help others was even magnified. Aside from the crown she took home, Deutsch values the skills she developed and the people she met during her journey that later on turned into family.

On the day of the screening was also the day she lost the love of her life, her papa. It discouraged her from pursuing her dream of becoming a queen. But, later on she realized that her papa would have loved it and would have been very proud if she really did chase her dream. The struggles didn’t stop coming after the screening. Before the pre pageant, Isabella was admitted to the hospital because of dengue. She was worried she couldn’t get well in time for the pre pageant but the heavens heard her prayers and she was able to get back on the journey to becoming a queen.

Deutsch plans to focus on the people in her beautiful municipality, Borbon, during the period of her reign. Her municipality has become her refuge in times of hardships. “Borbon made me experience nature and the beautiful country side. It made me slow down, forget about the busy city, and just relax,” she says. Deutsch intends to give back to the people of her town by helping in their livelihood through training them in making marketable products from indigenous materials. At the end of her reign, she aims to showcase the products and the people of Borbon through an exhibit.

After her reign, Deutsch will continue with her studies as she will be in college by the time she hands over her crown to the next queen. But the drive to help others will not end there because Isabella will be taking a path where she will be able to help even more people, another dream she prays to also become her reality, to be a doctor.

Photos: Ed Lawrence Durano
Assistant: Gino Montesclaros Cabrera
Styling: Christian Jay B. Quilo
Locale: Mandani Bay
Wardrobe: Rustan’s

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