FOR my first in-person presscon since the pandemic started, I opted to attend the heartwarming homecoming of two Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. queens—The Miss Globe 2021 Maureen Ann Montagne of Batangas and Miss Intercontinental 2021 Cinderella Faye Obeñita of Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental. Unlike other national pageants, BPCI graciously granted me the privilege to interview their titleholders.
MAUREEN: GLOBAL GLAMAZON
YOU competed at all major pageant systems. Excluding Binibining Pilipinas, which has been most enjoyable to you?
For me, I love Miss USA. It was such a fun experience. And competing with 62 girls in Miss Arizona and winning and then competing with 51 girls in Miss USA was so eye-opening. And it really was the pageant that made me say, “Wow, I’m absolutely in love with pageants!”
And you were Top 15 in 2015 . With Olivia Jordan (second runner-up to Pia Wurtzbach at Miss Universe] and Anea Garcia, Miss Rhode Island who eventually won Miss Grand International (but was dethroned).
Yeah, we’re actually still good friends and we message each other often.
Would you encourage other Fil-Am beauties who competed at Miss USA to join Binibining Pilipinas?
Yes, why not? If they enjoy living in the Philippines, then, I say yes, go. It’s been such a rewarding career move for me with modeling, commercials, everything. So it’s been a great joy. And I’m an island girl now. So there’s no going back.
There’s a Fil-Am competing in Miss USA, Miss Nevada Kataluna Enriquez? Yes. Do you have any thoughts or messagefor her?
She’s the trans competitor, right? Yeah, I’m so proud of her for breaking barriers. For being you know, one of the first girls to do this. And own it. I know she even made her own evening gown; I also sew, so I have so much respect for her. And I’m excited to watch her journey. I’ll be rooting for her all the way.
Who are you wearing?
Right now I’m wearing Jun Ador. blue. I actually have sapphires in my crown, and so they match. I think from now on I’ll be wearing a lot of blue and a lot of this pinkish red just to match the crown.
Did you get a message from Ann Colis (The Miss Globe 2015) before the pageant?
Yes, She was actually the most helpful queen. She gave me all of the best tips and tricks from making sure you look gorgeous every day to wearing heels whenever you can. Just to really be a queen, and to act like you’re already the winner before the game even started. So she gave me some of the best advice.
So when you won, what were her thoughts?
She said, “I knew it!” And that amount of love and support from her was so sweet, because not all queens are like that. So for me, Ann Colis is a true queen. And I really am thankful for her support and love.
The Miss Globe is based in Albania. I actually had a Media Week a full week after my crowning. And I’ll be traveling all around the globe. So I’m already scheduled to go to the Dominican Republic, Greece, back to Albania, Canada, and we have some other countries planned for our travels as well.
As of now I’m their ambassador of goodwill. So my advocacy for this year will be feeding the hungry and I’ll be working with Hands on Manila and trying to work with as many organizations as I can.
CINDY: INTERCONNECTING THE CONTINENTS
IN 2015, you joined Miss Camiguin. Who encouraged you to join Miss Cagayan de Oro in 2019?
Actually, my mentors, because I already said no to pageantry. Yes, way back in 2019, I said that I want to focus on my work. So 2017, I graduated. I was an academic scholar all my life, so I said to myself, “I want to enjoy. I want to have a vacation. I want to rest—a well-deserved rest.” That’s why I said to myself that, no, I’m not joining any more pageants. I wanted to focus on my career. And then 2017, I got the job at the local government unit of Misamis Oriental. My work is in the tourism industry. So that’s my field—event organizing like helping the tourism industry thrive. I had put an end to pageants already. But then my mentors told me that, “Your journey won’t be complete if you won’t step on the Binibining Pilipinas stage.” So, I told them, “Why not?” I didn’t want to have regrets in the near future.
But I convinced I’m not ready for Binibining Pilipinas yet. I wanted one more try in the local pageant scene. If I could do it there, then I will proceed to Binibining Pilipinas. Parang naging assurance ko ’yung Miss Cagayan de Oro, that I still have that eagerness to compete.
What was the reaction of Governor Bambi Emano, who lamented the he was going to “lose” you as an employee? Howare you going to reconcile your responsibilities as a tourism officer while doing your duty as Miss Intercon?
Actually, I’m so happy because the flagship program of Governor Bambi is tourism. Having won the crown means that I can boost tourism. So, it’s aligned. The Civil Service Commission has been very understanding also with my position. So, yes, from time to time we will apply for leave once necessary.
Miss Canada and Miss Spain have been to the Philippines. Who else are you encouraging to visit?
Miss Egypt has also been here. Miss Korea, my roommate, heard a lot about Boracay. Miss Kenya
will be coming. There will be more. I want to tour them around the Philippines, including Misamis Oriental.
Image courtesy of BRUCE CASANOVA