My name is Stephie Venice Cabahug, 28 years old. I was Ms Gay Philippines World 2012, Ms Gay Sandugo Bohol 2013, a finalist to Super Sireyna Queen of the Ocean 2013, Queen Philippines Earth 2015 and one of my greatest achievements is being a model at MAC (models association of cebu).
I grew up without having a dad, but none the less I still had a great childhood. I grew up with my grandmother because my mom was working abroad, and I never felt that I was incomplete because I have no dad and my mom was always not there. I had a very colourful childhood, I always played outside with friends. I played with Barbie with my cousins, enjoyed building houses with Lego and of course played bahay-bahayan.
I guess when I was around 4 years old I already felt different. I felt like I was on the wrong body because I have always identified myself as a girl. Whenever my grandmother puts on make up before she leaves for work I always look and when she leaves, I would follow what she did. I will wear her dresses and her shoes too. I also had crushes who were boys. I always wanted to be a beauty queen, it was my childhood dream. It all started when I was 17, there was a beauty contest in one of the barangays in my city. One of the organizers was my friend and he encouraged me to join and so I did. I did not win that time but it was the start of the series of pageants that I joined. Being a beauty queen is not easy at all. You have to have self discipline and you need to look good all the time (lol). What I like about being a beauty queen is that you get to enjoy special privileges and perks.
I work as a process trainer in one of the call centers here in Cebu, and this is actually my main source of income. Modelling and joining beauty pageants is more of a hobby for me.
MAC is a very big agency here in Cebu, and with all the beautiful transgenders here I was handpicked by Kuya Chicoy (our handler). I was actually discovered at the Queen Philippines pageant held August of last year. There is a special award called "MAC model discovery of the year" and I was really not expecting to get that but thankfully I did.
I have joined a lot of beauty pageants but one of the best was when I joined Super Sireyna back in 2013. It was during that time that I felt the "superstar treatment". All expenses were paid by Eat Bulaga (a local noontime show) including airfare, hotel stay, and food.
My greatest inspiration in life is my family. I am the eldest of 4 siblings, and Im helping my mom with the finances at home. My family i actually the reason why I strive for the best because I want to provide for them. I always believe that the whole world might turn their back on you but never your family. FAMILY IS FAMILY.
There are a lot of people nowadays who are already very accepting and more understanding not just with transgenders but with the entire LGBT community. More people are now well informed about what the LGBT is and I guess education is the greatest contributor as to why people now are more aware and more accepting.
It is not too bad at all to be a transgender living in Cebu. Compared to other cities in the world where they condemn being an LGBT. There are still discrimination and inequality happening but its just minimal, compared to some places in Brazil for example where transgender girls are killed. I am actually thankful that I was born here in Cebu because somehow we can express who we truly are.
Same sex marriage in the Philippines, for me I guess it's not a priority now, though I always dreamed of wearing a wedding dress one day. I guess we should prioritise LGBT rights first. We should first establish the right of our LGBT brothers and sisters and we should have a firm foundation and I guess everything will follow.
I would like to be an inspiration to the transgender community. I would like to be someone who other transgender girls would look up to. A good role model to the younger generations of trans girls. I wanted them to follow my footsteps, getting a college degree and getting a decent job. To let them know that being a transgender of member of the LGBT community is not a hindrance to live a decent good life.
My greatest contribution to the community I believe is by promoting my advocacy and that is LGBT acceptance and equality. Though more people are now accepting but there are still injustices happening, especially in terms of employment.
I am hoping that one day any member of the LGBT community will be able to choose a job that matches their skill set. Nowadays it is only in the BPO industry where LGBT people are given equal opportunity, for that I am very thankful. So I hope by promoting and fighting for this cause, this might cause awareness and hoping one day we will have a peaceful and injustice free world.
I have heard that Super Sireyna will be back next year, so since I have not won in that pageant I might be coming back. So I guess I will be doing my pageant training again just as to prepare for that. I really wanted to win because beside the cash prize and fame it may bring, I may be able to help a charity of my choice.
My message to young transitioning: do not give up. It may seem that the road is rough but at the end of it is a very beautiful garden. Life is very beautiful, it is full of endless possibilities, we should not give up chasing after our dreams. Just always be yourself and never pretend to be someone just as to fit with society's standards.