A glance at the contestants vying for this year’s Miss Cebu title would inevitably lead one to think that Cebu is teeming with beautiful and shapely ladies. By the time they answered questions, another realization materializes: the ladies are intelligent, articulate and witty. That was how it went the night of the Ms. Cebu Pageant.
Even at the pre-pageant judging held four days before the coronation night, these young women showed that there was more to them than meets the eye. That early, the pageant adjudged Patricia Ann Estuart best in fun wear, chose Maria Gigante Ms. PLDT, and crowned Jehanne Frances Dy Ms. Gems and Designs.
The coronation night was graced with no less than Ms. Earth 2008 Karla Paula Henry and 2012 Mr. World 1st Runner-Up Andrew Wolff as program hosts. Former titleholders Reina Elena Malinao, Kris Tiffany Janson and Mia Zeeba Ali Faridoon did the honors in some segments of the program while previous runners-up Blinky de Leon and Phoebe Kaye Fernandez made personal appearances as presenters of special awards.
The University of Cebu Dance Troupe, budding Cebuana singer Victoria Ingram and Resorts World Manila’s Primo (a Russian acrobatic duo from the Edge of Glory), and Bo Cerrudo and Sheila Valderrama (from The King and I) wowed the crowd with their awe-inspiring intermission numbers.
The evening saw the recognition of two former Ms. Cebu runners-up for garnering honors in beauty contests outside of Cebu. Vanessa Amman clinched the 2012 Ms. World Philippines 2nd Princess award while Rizzini Alexis Gomez recently grabbed the 2012 Ms. Tourism International in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
After answering 12 questions prepared by the candidate themselves, five ladies stepped closer to the coveted crown. Citing street-children and making a difference in their lives as the top item in her agenda for the first 100 days should she become the third woman president of the Republic, Cebu Doctor’s University biology student Namrata Neesha Murjani, who is of mixed Filipino (her mom is a Cebuana) and Indian descent, impressed the board of judges composed of Ray Fung of Asia Miles, Noli Hernandez of Megaworld, interior designer Cynthia Almario, fashion designer JC Buendia, and PLDT Community Relations Head Evelyn del Rosario.
Early on, Neesha was chosen Best in Evening Gown/Ms. Megaworld, with her designer, Cary Santiago, clinching the Best Evening Gown Designer award. Neesha’s ladies-in-waiting were Therese Llamada, Maria Gigante, Patricia Ann Estuart and Ely Rose Angcon winning first to fourth runners-up honors, respectively. Angcon was also adjudged Kapamilya Star of the Night.
Other awardees of that night were Jehanne Frances Dy (Ms. Friendship) and Marivee Ann Velasquez (Ms. Photogenic).
What made the new beauty queen’s victory sweeter was that she won the title on the eve of her birthday. She describes herself a ‘fighter’ who never gives up, a trait which she attributes to her Indian lineage. True to her word, she used a debacle in an earlier beauty contest, where she bagged many special awards but did not land the magic circle, as a challenge to succeed and prove her detractors. The ready smile she wore the whole evening, however, was pure Cebuano.
Ms. Murjani’s victory came with a P60 thousand cash prize, trips to Las Vegas, Europe, Hong Kong and the Holy Land, and overnight stays at Harold’s Hotel, Crimson Resort and Spa, Marriott Cebu City Hotel and Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, along with a digital camera and voice and stage performance lessons.
Indeed a bundle of joy for a Sto. Niño devotee and birthday celebrant. The Ms. Cebu pageant is one of the highlights of the annual Pista Senyor celebration dedicated to the Holy Child. (Roger Serna)