Megan Young and Jen Malpaya: Beauty queen besties
MANILA, Philippines - “The first time I met Megan was during the first screening of Miss World Philippines at the SM Mall of Asia. I knew her because, of course, she was a celebrity.”
For Jen Malpaya, contestant number 21, they just happened to be grouped together during the screening process. Megan was contestant number 20.
“We were together during the screening and, when we passed, we were also grouped together in the official number listing,” says the 22-year-old. “Of course, I was a bit starstruck so I was still feeling [myself] around, being careful around her.”
Unlike Jen who was a veteran of pageants, Miss World Philippines 2013 was Megan Young’s first ever beauty pageant with that kind of magnitude. “We exchanged numbers in case we needed help about stuff about the pageant. That's where [our friendship] started. Since our [candidate] numbers were near each other, we really became close.”
The two would sit beside each other on the bus during long trips and stand beside each other on stage when they needed to present themselves in front of an audience. “And because we’d all be tired and lacking sleep, sometimes, Megan would miss her cue, forget a step or go in another direction. I’d be the one to pull her back and say, ‘Pssst.’”
Sometimes, Jen admits, it would be the other way around.
“At first,” says the HRM student and part-time model, “Megs [can look] mataray. It wasn't really new to me because, as a part-time model, I work with celebrities. You don't really know what their real personality is.” But with Megan, “if you're not talking to her, the first impression is that she's masungit [grumpy]. But sometimes she's the one who initiates the conversation. Sometimes she’d say, ''Wag ka ma-starstruck. Tao din ako.’ [Don't get starstruck. I'm also human.]”
“Once you get to know her, you realize she's just a normal person,” Jen adds.
“It's so easy to make Megan laugh. We both enjoy food, even if she's on a pageant diet. I'm the one who tempts her when we’re eating. I’m a bad influence,” she says, laughing. “We both appreciate simple things and it's easy for us to find something funny [in anything]. Of course, we both like girly things like clothes and shoes, too.”
On the bus, recalls Jen, Megan would take photos of her asleep and threaten to upload them online. “Then she’d apologize and say it was a joke,” says Jen. “Or when I'm sleeping on the bus, I’ll suddenly wake up to her cursing or laughing while she's playing on her tablet.”
Even before finals night, Megan’s name was already being thrown around by pageant insiders and fans as the one to beat. Some pointed out her celebrity status affecting the judges, but for Jen, it was all real effort on the part of Megan.
“In Miss World, we were all treated equally. There were no artists or divas. What one had, everyone had,” she says. “And for me, I knew that Megan had an edge. I knew that she would win. She went through everything we all went through and she did her best. I saw that.”
On the fateful night Megan took the crown, before the results were announced, “backstage, we just hugged. And I said, ‘Alam mo na.’ [You already know.]”
The night before Megan flew to Indonesia, the two spoke on the phone. “I didn't give her any advice. I just said I that knew she would take home the crown.”
“Just like her answer during the finals night, I really think she has the heart to help other people. Because aside from her being pretty and kind, it’s the heart to serve that makes her Miss World, that's Megan.
"Even if she's tired, she still has a smile on. If she can still do it, she'll do it because she loves what she's doing.”
Here are the photos Jen shares exclusively with Rappler:
Rappler will LIVE blog the Miss World 2013 coronation night on Saturday, Sept 28, 7pm Philippine time.
You can also read:
- #AskMegan: Miss World PH 2013 Megan Young
- Fierce forecast: Megan Young for the win at Miss World 2013!
- My sister, the beauty queen
- Megan Young makes cut in Miss World 2013 beach fashion
- Megan Young leaves for Indonesia
- Megan Young ready for Miss World 2013
- Megan Young 2nd in Ms World app poll
- Will Megan Young win Miss World title?
- IN PHOTOS: Ms World Ph 2013 coronation
- WINNERS: Miss World Ph 2013
- AS IT HAPPENS: Miss World Ph 2013 coronation night
- Girls to watch: Miss World Ph 2013
- IN PHOTOS: Miss World Ph Gala
Peter Imbong is a fulltime freelance writer, sometimes a stylist; and on some strange nights, a host. After starting his career in a business magazine, he now writes about lifestyle, entertainment, fashion, and profiles of different personalities. Check out his blog, Peter Tries to Write.