We accidentally met at the airport in Cebu, said a few hellos, having acquainted before, she as a candidate in the Mutya Hong Butuan in the 1990’s and grabbed the title. I was a juror of a minor special prize.
She was sitting at the row of empty seats when I approached and as she saw me, she offered a smile and extended a hand and said, “Hi sir, remember me?” I nodded though I could not recall her name.
She was charming and warmed. She kept asking how Butuan is now, like a loyal curios child.
“I read your articles on Mindanao before and until now because I love to read and at one time, wanted to become a writer too,” she said.
I thanked her and asked how she had been. She said she had been blessed and inspired with her life, having a family and running a business as executive.
After our short chat while waiting for the plane to depart, I mentioned I would write about our encounter for this publication. She seemed thrilled but requested I kept her name a secret.
“I’m embarrassed people might think I’m ego-tripping,” she giggled.
“Tigulang na ko,dili na siguro angayan (I’m old, maybe it’s no longer appropriate.)”
I relented. This lady, I thought, is not only charming and down-to-earth but exuding elegance and confidence. I shared to her I was set to talk to this year’s Mutya title-holder for a possible story on Butuan as an artists’ haven with her as the endorser.
She was thrilled and said she would do the same had organizers during her time asked her to help push advocacy or projects.
“I wish I did more during my time, not just being proclaimed and then vanished out of spotlight,” she looked back.
Asked what the title as the fairest lady did to her during and after her reign-minus the substantial things to do, she replied: “On a personal level, I learned to be confident and secure of myself. I was shy and scared even before and during the contest. I think most young people would feel that way. I liberated myself in a big way, I think.”
When she won the title, she said it was like winning the national games or passing the board examinations or running the Olympics.
“It was a big thing for most of us, you know, fame, ego and money. But now, I asked myself if there was any other way, I could have tried other things too,” she quipped.
She said she love challenges, even still young. That was why she joined even if she thought she was not pretty enough, she laughed.
“But I was thinking I was a reader so I knew a lot of things whatever they would ask and can be articulate too.”
That made her strong and conquer her fears.
Her regret, she said, was nobody asked her opinion as a local celebrity on certain issues, big and small.
“I like to express myself for whatever worth as long as people know i have ideas running my head,” she declares.
Maybe she would make a good lawyer, I told her. “I really want to,” proudly claimed. “I hope to find time to study law. It’s my secret dream before.”
On her current status as a businesswoman, she said, she has transformed from merely wanting to make lots of money but serving first (through the venture) to help uplift the condition of all.
“I learned this from a seminar on spirituality and business with a good cause,” she noted.
She further said she is convinced it is her mission in life now, “and I put my heart and soul to it,” she ended.
A true gem of a lady.