My Miss SCUBA Philippines 2014 Farewell Speech

Back in 2014, I relinquished my crown. My journey ended as Miss SCUBA Philippines 2013. Here is my farewell speech!

Back in 2014, I relinquished my crown. My journey ended as Miss SCUBA Philippines 2013. I got to meet the lucky woman who represented the country in the Miss SCUBA International Finals in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia that November.

For those who weren’t able to witness, here is the farewell speech that I wrote on a whim.

During Ms. Cebu
During Ms. Cebu

For as long as I can remember, I always had a love for the ocean but I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. It was through Facebook where I first heard of Miss SCUBA and without second thoughts, I went to the screening alone with the dream of finally getting a dive license. However, I did not win Miss SCUBA Philippines 2012, instead, I won as a runner-up, Miss SCUBA Philippines Marine Tourism 2012.

Losing however did not stop me from what I wanted, I was lucky enough to have met the international organizer, Mr. Robert Lo and before 2012 ended, I was appointed to represent the country for Miss SCUBA International 2013. At first, I hesitated, thinking that it was unfair for the rest who would want to represent the country but I eventually knew that it was the opportunity that I have been waiting for.

Just like a ship on a grand journey, I went against several waves to be Miss SCUBA Philippines 2013. I had to sacrifice time and put effort to find sponsors and supporters on my own. On December 8, 2013, I left Manila to with a wallet that was almost empty, a luggage bag filled with thrifted clothes and my borrowed dive equipment. I knew that my life will never be the same once I board the plane. I was worrying about how my stay would be and what would become of me after. I left my country with only a handful of people knew what I was about to do.

With little support, I felt like an unarmed dwarf forging a battle against giants.  The next day after arriving in Kota Kinabalu while I was patiently waiting for another flight, yellow rays started creeping in, slowly taking over the gray clouds which hovered the skyline and just right out of the glass window of the airport, Mt. Kinabalu greeted me with her grandiosity. It reminded me to think big, that very view gave me courage and made ready me for the start of competition.

I opened both heart and mind and got rid of my fear. Each day was filled with laughter shared not only among candidates, but with everyone involved with the pageant. The whole competition seemed like a long vacation.

Fast-forward, I found myself standing together with three other finalists. It was the announcement of winners, I was the only one with no special award of which worried me a lot. In a split second, my name was called.  It was a surreal unexpected moment of triumph. They called me, “Miss SCUBA International First Runner-up”.

Since then, I was able to help communities and contribute in the protection of the marine environment. To my mother Noemi and sister Carrie for the unfailing love, to Sir George for helping me with my dive license, to Aquamundo Sports for providing my dive gears and to Edwin Uy for letting me don his creations for the MSI competition, to my Miss SCUBA International Family, SERALHCO, SAV Hospitality and to everyone who was with me during this journey, I am forever grateful.

I am walking in front of you now as a proof that failure is a natural part of success, road blocks are meant to test you and passion always gets you through. To the next Miss SCUBA Philippines, the dream is yours for the taking, be brave.

I was sad and happy that night because I was giving up familiarity but I also knew a new doors of opportunities were on my way. After that night, I became a co-host for Miss SCUBA International 2014 and in 2015, I became the second national director for Miss SCUBA Philippines and ended up chosing the lady who would become Miss SCUBA International 2015 and the year after the next lady I chose won another First Runner up place for the country.

Cliche as it sounds but every ending is indeed just the beginning of something else.

Have you ever had to say goodbye to an opportunity or someone? How did it go?

 

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3 Goals for Rebel Mermaid Blog

I have fallen once again into the pit of procrastination and it has gone bad this 2018 thus, I am now committing to achieve these three goals for the next three months starting August.

  • Improve my content mix to add more features on sustainable living and responsible travel.
  • Publish one post a week during the next three months.
  • Spend two hours each week visiting my followers’ blogs, reading, and commenting from now until the end of October.

When starting a new habit, it is such a struggle. Now I have to acquaint myself with the habit of publishing regularly quality content in my blog. How about you? What are your goals for your blog?

2018 and You

2018 will be a year of improved content from me but will still be procrastinating. Currently working on new posts and I would like to get your opinion on what content I should publish.

Just choose your top 3 favorite topics and comment below!

My First Humorous Speech: Maria Clara

My looks, behaviour and belief and priorities are really not that of Maria Clara. Here is my humorous speech about the “Maria Clara” stereotype!

I never thought I could ever pull of a humorous speech so when it was announced over our Cebu South Toastmasters Club meeting, I saw it as a good challenge!

evolution-of-costume-05-maria-clara-matriarch

Here is my piece that I wrote for the humorous competition this year:

The last time I was here ON STAGE, I was certain I would win THE SPEECH CONTEST but then I got beaten by Taipan’s polar bear OVER THERE! Well guess what! I am not here to win the best speaker but I AM HERE TO WIN Miss Universe AND YES, I AM STILL CERTAIN THAT I WILL BRING HOME THE CROWN! I am actually on stage in Las Vegas, and Steve Harvey just read my question. “What is the essence of a Filipina?” Yes, I only have a minute to compose myself and come up with a winning answer because Miss Colombia is right there wishing my doom!

Anyways, what is indeed the essence of a Filipina? Hmmm… Oh I see my mom right in the crowd. She is holding a sign that says the answer is Maria Clara.

Come on mom it is already 2017. Why on Earth will I answer that? Would Pia Wurtzbach even agree to this? Yes, I do remember Maria Clara mom, she is known in Rizal’s novel to be shy, demure, modest, religious, obedient and subservient but is the essence of being Filipina fitting to the stereotype of Maria Clara?

Does the stereotype of Maria Clara even apply to me? I know I have three traits that are clearly Anti-Maria Clara, which might disqualify me as a true Filipina.

First, looks. Would you think I look Filipina? My height? No! On the way here, I was on the jeepney and two boys sitting across me were giggling, so I ask them “Why you laugh ha?”. You know what they said? So the guy told me I looked like a tranny, ladyboy, bayot. He said I was taller than average 4’11 Filipina and even the average guy so I probably really am a guy. Anyways, I also thought my skin colour was enough to make me Filipina. I went to SM the other day because you know, “They have it all for you!” I just wanted to buy sanitary pads because the bloody days are coming, when the sales lady approached me she said, “Hi Maam, this product is good for you maam.” She was speaking in fluent English which I enjoyed but she went on talking for 15 minutes, trying to sell me papaya soap! I know my mother would say, “No to papaya soap, yes to papaya (pause) be mestiza like Maria Clara”. Nope definitely not! She also spoke to me in English thinking I was a foreigner. I have already been mistaken for Indonesian, Thai, and Japanese good thing it still Asian

Secondly, behaviour and beliefs. My mom will clearly attest! With conviction she will say, “Paula is the black sheep of the family.” Alright, I know what you are thinking, not my skin colour how dare you!

Back in college, I did not really want to be a nurse so I found ways to escape classes I signed up for dance palabas, track and field and basketball team! A day before Intramurals, I lost consciousness while running by the activity hall in front of a crowd and woke up with blood all over, my skirt had a high slit, my sleeves were ripped showing my unshaved underarms and my professor went to check. She asked if I am okay and I told her, “See what drugs can do?” Luckily it was before Duterte otherwise that joke would’ve gotten me shot. Since then my mother would confuse my large appetite for drug addiction. She would ask me always, why is your allowance gone? Are you doing drugs? Definitely Maria Clara was never accused of such and I hope you guys do not “tokhang” me by the way.

When it comes to belief, I am an agnostic, during high school, my mom went on stage for the first time bringing me a bouquet of flowers on stage as our class valedictorian just looked at me in envy. It was my mom’s proud moment. She thought finally she is turning to be Maria Clara, devout and pious. Why did she think that? Because I won the bible quiz and I received a medal from our parish priest. As she was putting on the medal, I was laughing in my mind because she did not know that I joined to escape classes again! How did I beat the other contestants? My cheat mate no my seat mate gave me a tip. He told me the golden rule for multiple choice! When in doubt choose C and so I did and won. Maybe you should try it, perhaps you will C.

Lastly, priorities. At 30, I am not married. In China, they would call me leftover or what we call the Filipino piece just like that last piece of Chickenjoy nobody wants to take not like Maria Clara she was in demand. Sometimes I feel bad and try to find matches in Tinder but my aunt’s words are making me hopeful. She said I should be happy to be single and morena because I can attract more foreign men and you know what they say… With foreign men comes better currency… Think personal ATM, enough dollar and euros for pasalubong for the entire clan! See getting married is not my priority unlike Maria Clara who was okay with being a second class citizen, I want to be a Queen B! I want to run my own business and perhaps rule the world.

My looks, behaviour and belief and priorities are really not that of Maria Clara but more of Gabriela, strong, opinionated, motivated and of course fierce. Despite not fitting in the Maria Clara, I do love my country this is why I stay despite being a registered nurse so I can defend it against every Facebook troll!

Clearly we should stop questioning people’s nationality just because they do not fit the typical stereotype.

We should not define being Filipina based on the height of our nose, our karaoke skills or our ability to eat 10 cups of rice more than what we should look at is love for culture and fellowmen.

I am definitely no Maria Clara, I am a modern Filipina, your Gabriela. How about you? Are you living the stereotype? Break out of it, I will still see you as a Filipino, or Filipina rather.

Anyways back to the question and answer. Thank you for that wonderful question Steve! I believe that the essence of a Filipina is being confidently beautiful with or without papaya!

Back to you contest chair…

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Trying my best to be “Maria Clara Like” after the Division C competition.

Making people laugh is definitely difficult I found out the minute I delivered my first ever humorous speech. Not only do you have to come up with jokes that the audience can relate to all your actions, vocal variety and pauses matter. I was lucky enough to win our Club contest and made it even farther than I ever did when I first competed. This time, I made it as an Area 23 representative and the competition was far from easy.

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For the second time, I competed with guys who already placed in the international arena. There were 5 of us for our division and unfortunately, I did not even make it to top 3 but it was a good experience. I learned that I needed more experience in finding the right mix of material to relate to a bigger audience beyond the millennials.

The Anti-Hero Journey

Confident. Obedient. Paragon of Awesomeness. These adjectives are typically used to describe a hero. Heroes are typically the protagonist of every story and everyone wants to be like them! However, today, ladies and gentlemen, I am not here to talk about heroes. In fact, I am here to talk about the dark side. Yes! The dark side, not because Rogue One is about to premiere, but because I'm a rebel who enjoys shattering the norms.

We always look up to a hero as the epitome of what a human being should be. According to one of my favorite American Scholar, Joseph Campbell who wrote "Hero With A Thousand Faces", a hero goes through several stages: First he is introduced in his ORDINARY WORLD where he receives the CALL TO ADVENTURE. He is then RELUCTANT at first to CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD where he eventually encounters TESTS, ALLIES and ENEMIES. He eventually reaches the INNERMOST CAVE where he endures the SUPREME ORDEAL. He SEIZES THE SWORD or the treasure and is pursued on the ROAD BACK to his world. He is RESURRECTED and transformed by his experience. Finally, he RETURNS to his ordinary world with a treasure, boon, or ELIXIR to benefit his world.

As much as I want to have my life story built according to this, it will never fit in this mold. My story begins with regression.  As a kid, I had a series of unfortunate life events from having a close encounter with death during the 1991 Ormoc Flood, discovering the lifeless body of my older sister who took her own life and witnessing domestic violence regularly. These life events, along with poverty, always made me feel inferior among friends. It led me to think that hiding all of these flaws and feelings would made them accept me. I created a world of self deceit and aloofness. I recall the teacher's comment in my report card "She needs to be more sociable."  As a weird kid in a Catholic school, I was alienated from the group and even bullied because of my eccentricities. This pushed me further into becoming bad. I fought back by throwing frogs at classmates. Perhaps the worst thing I have done was in Grade 5 when I kicked a boy in his crotch and called him stupid in front of everyone. The unceasing reminder of my uniqueness turned into an internal program for constantly highlighting weakness. When I was about to finish Elementary school, I developed lust for every material possession and description people attached to a rich and ideal kid. I started taking things from the lost and found section at school, even stealing a girl's Barbie doll at her house. I turned into a living contradiction. One day good, next day evil. I felt compelled to control things and people. When they refused to follow I would resort to violence, pulling their hair, throwing things or pushing them off. I evolved into a tyrant, refusing to bow down to my parents and questioning all their tradition and beliefs. It died down until I started university. Despite my seemingly normal student life, I was slowly shutting down from my humanity. I took advantage of my parents' generosity spent my allowance haphazardly; my compassion turned into hatred for the world and loathing for life. My daily wish would that it would be the last day of my life. Although living in paradise, I focused in the negative side. Creating  a living hell in my mind. I could talk endlessly about my life story but this is not an autobiographical movie with hours to spare.

Anti heroes create the problems that heroes have to solve. And without those problems, there would be no revelations concerning the basic struggle between good and evil. Stories would be plain and lifeless. Without the actions of these negative forces, there would even be little stories, and the forces that motivated Hitler and other dictators would be forever a mystery.

How did I escape my anti-hero journey? I haven't! Every now and then my demons visit me and they try to pull me back into the pit. I will never be completely confident, despite my experience in pageants. I am less likely to turn fully obedient, my blood just screams nonconformity and even though some people think I am a paragon of awesomeness (sometimes I like to think it is true), I am just a human being with flaws.

Our anti-hero story continues daily. It gives us clues on what we must do to be saved. Knowing our anti-hero story is not as scary as it seems. Coming to terms with our anti hero story helps us to come to terms with the dark side in ourselves. After all, darkness must exist for light to flourish.

Why I Write?

I write because I have a lot of things of in my mind.

I write because written words are easy.

I write to free my mind, to connect with people and to find a common ground in this vast space.

I write to free people, to tell that impossible can be done and what is is not what should always be.

I write to have my thoughts travel from my mind to others, hoping that in some way, I am bridging the gap that I am unable to fill during my anti-social moments.

I write to bring people to places they have never been and to think of ideas they have never thought of.

I write because I love words. Words that can change a person’s life. In this cruel world, words of hope are scarce. I want to bring across the small silver linings that go unnoticed and unappreciated.

I write because a lot of people speak daily and only a few are remembered days after.

I write to record my life and those moments that are vital to my existence.

I write just because the act is a form of contributing to what is and what is not.

I write because I think.

I write to challenge my mind and the other people’s mind.

I write because it is easier than speaking.

I write because I am open to judgement.

I write so I can see the journey that my mind has been going through.

I write so that I can remember those thought provoking moments.

I write so I can forget those repetitive mental reminders that disrupt my functioning.

I write because I want to be better at writing.

I write because I want to one day be good enough to publish a book.

I write because words last longer than me.

I write  to not be forgotten.

I write for the love of expression.

I write out of frustration.

I write because I am human enough to crave significance and needy enough to seek connections.

I write because I’m part introvert and sometimes what I think is easier to express through words than to speak out.

I write because it makes me happy.

I write because I can.

I write because I am a lover of words and thoughts.

I write because I am free to do so.

I write to rebel against monotony and predictability.

I write to be heard and to hear.

I write to see and be seen.

I write for the sake of expression and non conformity.

I write to continue the art of writing.

I write to improve my style.

I write to find new and alike minds.

I write to console the hurt.

 

 

Monday Musing: Fighting Thoughts of Uncertainty

How often do you doubt yourself?

Today is World Poetry Day! Back in the days, I would spend time writing on my diary and trying to be a poet. I love words and enjoy sulking in their meaning. To celebrate this day, I went through my old blog site to search for past entries. I used to write a lot of free verse on my frustrations in life. To be honest, most of it made people depressed so I decided to shift.

doubt

 

Here is a free verse I wrote on August 4, 2012:

Standing in front of two eternities, sadness and happiness accompany me.

Trying to hold on to the dusts of yesterday, losing grip of what used to be.

Confused with the now as future is pounding at my door.

A bleak promise of tomorrow awaiting outside.

Fears and worries prevent me from moving further, for thoughts of you still linger. Time why do you change things?

Weak and weary but I will trudge on.

Now is my only possession, for the past is dead and tomorrow is unborn.

I sometimes I end up worrying too much about things that it temporarily freezes up my life. As humans the idea of not knowing everything always bothered us. The fear of not being totally in control of our life is an ongoing disease. Sometimes I resort to emotional eating or running. Oftentimes, I run away from uncertainty. After accepting the fact that the unknown will never stop bothering me , I confronted it and welcomed reality.

Having peace within one’s self is never easy. As social beings, we tend to use others or things to solve problems. It takes a lot of strength to fight our own demons and as you might all know, there is nothing more debilitating than self-doubt.

Fear is one of man’s formidable enemies. We do a lot of things that tend to be destructive to ourselves, to others and to relationships. You should not let a shadow consume your entire life. Decide to be positive and pro-active. I chose to do the same. We are all given the opportunity and time to make the best out of our lives.

The most freeing thing you can do for yourself is to hold on to your own abilitie. Believe in your capabilities and know that things happen for the better if you will it.

Do you have these moments too? How do you get over them?