In between training and activities at home, the candidates have been in touch with fans on social media. Rappler got to speak with the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 candidates during a two-day series of Zoom interviews, where we asked some of them about the long wait and what they plan to do after October 25.
Question: This is, by far, the longest competition you have competed in. It’s been 9 months and I just want to ask your thoughts on how you dealt with the emotions and anxiety because of the pandemic.
Pauline Amelinckx, Bohol: Every experience in every pageant that every girl is going to go through is totally different. And during the pandemic, I admit there was a time that I was doubting myself if I should continue. I was trying to look at all my priorities and maybe look at something that would directly help my parents, help as a family because of the situation we are in.
But they have shown so much support and my friends have shown so much support in me, they have believed in me through ups and downs and it’s because of that support that I was able to cling on to that hope, believe that I can do it and I continued on with this journey because I knew there was something greater waiting and something greater that I can do as well.
Sigrid Grace Flores, Catanduanes: It was a roller coaster ride journey. One minute we’re okay, one minute we’re feeling a bit tired. I think it’s our advantage, the ones that have been joining pageants before because we’ve developed mental fortitude. We know how to respond with wisdom.
When bad things are being thrown at us or challenges are thrown at us, we know how to respond with wisdom and be reactive because we’ve been in this industry for the longest time. And that is something I am very much thankful for all the pageants I joined in the past.
Alaiza Malinao, Davao City: There are definitely days that I doubted myself if it’s worth it. Should I focus on providing rather than going after the crown, maybe I can do it next year? But I don’t want to quit again just like I did in the past, but this is something that did not make me uncomfortable.
The reason why I quit the [Asia's Next Top Model] show before was I really wanted to look out for my mental health. And competing in the pageant, I was just at home and I had the time to take care of my mental health. To be honest, I had to seek professional help from psychologists, a spiritual teacher just to feel confident and true to myself. I think I’ve done so many things so I can just reach my dream to become the next Miss Universe Philippines and what keeps me going are the people in my province.
Ivana Pacis, Makati: It’s a totally different setting but I do really welcome the challenges. I didn’t think of giving up and quitting and not pursuing Miss Universe Philippines because I went through such dark moments during this whole quarantine. But I am so blessed to have my friends and family around me who would just push me and I am so glad that I didn’t quit that I am still here.
Michele Gumabao, Quezon City: In my journey as a Miss Universe Philippines candidate, I grew and became strong in the midst of this pageant.
And what made me strong is the people behind me. I am very vocal about my team and how much I appreciate them, how much they build me up, they motivate me. And in this pageant, it’s very important to have a good support system.
Sandra Lemonon, Taguig: At the start, all of us we’re very excited, all hungry for the crown. But due to the pandemic, we had to take a set back and we were able to reflect on everything that has been happening in our lives, our friends' lives and there’s a lot of not happy things that have happened and all of us struggled, I struggled financially, I struggled emotionally and what I did to combat that was to reach out to every friend and loved one I had and to show them support and to be there for them. I don’t want to pretend that I am doing perfectly fine when I am not. I really love to be honest. I want to build that great connection.
Questions: What is the one thing you’re looking forward to doing after October 25?
Christelle Abello, Aklan: After the competition, the first thing I am looking forward to do is kumain (eat)! S’yempre nag-da-diet kami (Of course, we're on diets). I think it’s high time we treat ourselves and I also want to spend some time with my family din because I haven’t seen them in a long time.
Tracy Maureen Perez, Cebu City: I am looking forward to eating all the things I currently stopped eating. It is an absolute horror for me to stay on a diet during the quarantine, we’re stuck in the house and tempted to cook all the food and to order just about anything. It’s hard to stay fit. So definitely after coronation night, I will spend time with my family and friends to eat out.
We’am Ahmed, Davao del Norte: To be honest, I would like to lie down on my bed and get that beauty sleep.
Rabiya Mateo, Iloilo City: The first thing I will do is to have a full body massage. I know my whole body is gonna hurt because of wearing those heels for hours so I feel I deserve that Swedish massage.
Carol Veronilla, Misamis Oriental: First thing I would really to do is visit my family because my mom and my sister are actually in Metro Manila since last year because my sister is a cancer warrior. She has been receiving treatment for two years and I actually separated myself from my family because we have a lot of activities in Miss Universe Philippines and I don’t want to put her at any risk. So after the competition, I would really love to be in the arms of my family.
Ysabella "Bella" Ysmael, Paranaque: After the competition, I would like to buy myself the biggest burger, the biggest milkshake, a bunch of fries that I can find and just enjoy that because you know, being in Miss Universe Philippines, you have to make some compromises, stay healthy. But every now and then, I believe you have to have a burger so that’s what exactly I am going to do.