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!

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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.

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Unexpected Escape

In 2003, a teenage girl who was extremely shy (to the point that when at a fast food chain she would ask her sister to order for her) was trying to escape half a day’s worth of classes. She signed up for her first Impromptu Speaking Competition to be exempted that day. 


It was her first time in a speaking contest. After couple of contestants, the winners were announced and she took second place. She was surprised to have won and that was when she found out that she probably had a skill in speaking specially in coming up with reasons and stories. She never really took notice of it until 4 years later. 

After her first heartbreak, she would force herself to belong to the world of extroverts. She signed up for her first beauty competition in her hometown, Ormoc. There she got a feel of how it was to have spotlights and a huge crowd listening to what she had to say. Naturally while answering the final question, her introvert side kicked in and she started to lose focus on her speech. This mistake cost her the title and she settled for second best.

In 2009, coaxed by her gay friends, she joined Miss Cebu. Unprepared but curious she managed to be part of the finalists. It was during this stint that she found out about Toastmasters International. After two days of sessions, she felt a bit more confident about her speaking skills and considered joining the organization. This thought was buried overtime.

Fast forward to 2016, after a string of misadventures in Makati, she moved back to Cebu. Through Facebook, the thought of improving her speaking skills was once again ignited. This time around, she finally decided to commit to it. 

Yesterday, she joined their speech competition for impromptu. The fourth person to speak, she entered a tense room with all eyes on her. The toastmaster of the evening Nizz then said a quote by John F. Kennedy, ” The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. ” Caught off guard by the figure of speech she started to compose her speech. As she was delivering it, she noticed the crowd looked a bit discombobulated. A bit distracted she continued until she looked to her right and the warning light was already red. She quickly tried to wrap everything up. After the speech, she already set in her mind that she was already disqualified as the rule was strict about going beyond the allotted 30 seconds. After the scores were tallied the pronouncement came. Dranz was called for second place and she just cheered on for either Tin or Peter Paul then something unexpected happened. Her name was called. She shruggingly went on stage and accepted the recognition.

14 years ago, this girl would never imagine that she would be competing to speak in a prestigious organization and yet her she is, bravely walking into uncertain. Now at 30, others might think it is too late for her, she is not worried. She is confident enough to walk in her own pace. 

Do not get her wrong, she is still an introvert right down to the core but she knows words are powerful enough to help change the world. A world where her thoughts and words are put out for the world to hear and think of and have the potential to influence minds. 

In her attempt to escape, she found a new world where she can be good.