Philippine arts

5 things we learned about pageants from Jonas Gaffud’s ‘The Crown’
5 things we learned about pageants from Jonas Gaffud’s ‘The Crown’

Rob Reyes

The "beauty queen maker" gets candid in his new book

MANILA, Philippines – Jonas Gaffud is known in the pageant circuit as “the beauty queen maker” for a reason – he has trained some of the Philippines most beguiling beauty queens, including Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza, Miss World 2013 Megan Young, and Miss Universe 2015 herself, Pia Wurtzbach.

Clearly, if there’s one person who knows what it takes to be a beauty queen, it’s Jonas – and he has decided to share that knowledge in a new book, The Crown: Your Essential Guide to Becoming a Beauty Queen, which he launched on August 17. In his book, Jonas divulges details about pageants, beauty queens, and the road to the crown. Here are some of the things we picked up from Jonas’ book.

1. Aces and Queens, Jonas’ pageant training group, had its beginnings in the hallways of UP Diliman

ACES AND QUEENS. Jonas started his pageant training organization with his friends in the hallways of his alma mater, UP Diliman. Photo by Rob Reyes/ Rappler

Jonas, who was a geography major at UP Diliman, started training his first batch of beauty queens – Zorayda Ruth Andam, Imee Martinez, and Michelle Reyes – on the second floor of the campus’ faculty center. Zorayda would eventually go on to win Bb. Pilipinas Universe in 2001.

2. Looking more “Asian” can be a winning factor for candidates

With many mestizas competing for pageant titles, Jonas said that having a duskier complexion can be beneficial for some candidates, as in the case of Pia Wurtzbach. In her third attempt to win the Bb. Pilipinas-Universe crown, he instructed her to do her make-up in such a way that enhanced her Asian features. He also told her to wear her hair pin-straight at the coronation, which helped her look more Asian.

3. Two-piece suits get more mileage

“Historically, the two-piece swimsuit gets higher marks from the judges,” Jonas wrote, without explaining much else.

PIA WURTZBACH. The former Miss Universe is Jonas' most high profile trainee. Photo by Rob Reyes/ Rappler

4. In international pageants, using one’s native language is a strategic move

As Jonas shared, “there was a time when most Latinas were using interpreters but actually understood English very well. They answered in their native tongue and their interpreters translated into English.” This was a way for them to buy a few more seconds to compose their answers, he said, a move which other contestants found unfair. Pageants such as Miss Universe now prefer candidates who can speak English well.

5. Straight judges and gay judges look for different things

Gaffud said that male judges favor contestants that are sexier, while female judges go for the ones who are prettier and brainier. Gay judges tend to be more objective, “you don’t have to be pefect but you have to be the complete package,” he said.

The Crown: Your Essential Guide to Becoming a Beauty Queen is available in all major bookstores for P295. –

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