APRIEL SMITH, MARIA GIGANTE & CYNTHIA THOMALLA
apriel: People may see me as a celebrity that is living a life of a princess but at home I am my mother's daughter and a sister to my siblings. I am also not excused for doing house chores such as sweeping the floor, watering the plants, washing dishes and cleaning the house.
maria: One of my closest friends loves telling me about the reaction on people's faces when they find out I ride the jeepney. And even more, when they find out I ride it the most out of all my friends. I don't know what's so surprising about it, but it happens very often. I've always been satisfied with 7 pesos getting me anywhere I want to be.
maria: I'm stubborn, but at the same time a fast learner. I take no shame in admitting mistakes because they only legitimize my experiences. They are the best teachers of the right way of doing things.
cynthia: My smile always comes from true happiness. I can never really fake it.
I don't like sleeping with pillows and I have weird sleeping positions.
cynthia: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I may have make up or not but if I'm not beautiful for them I wouldn't mind because I'm beautiful in my own different ways. And I think that beauty comes from within. If you have a beautiful heart, a mind and hand that knows how to give back to the community then you are truly beauty - especially to God.
apriel: Cebu Is blessed to have awesome nearby beaches because my favorite place is with the sun, shells, sand and sea water... I love to be at the beach.
maria: I love home! But outside of my house, and within the city, Kukuk's is my second home. Handuraw Gorordo is my third. I love them because they have the tendency to attract people with very diverse backgrounds and interests but equally moving amounts of passion and dedication to their chosen craft. Whether it be music, film, art or the mere appreciation of all things local, these are the places young people need to discover if they wanted to see the side of the city that never really sleeps because they are kept awake and alive by the imaginations of Cebu's creative souls. The best part is that they are hiding in plain sight.
cynthia: The place where I can give all my doubts and worries away and get back the feeling of hope and love:
Sr. sto. niño.
maria: You always have to give it everything. When you’re working for a dream, and specially if it’s something that big, you have to wake up every day like it’s the last day of your life. Train everyday like tomorrow is judgment day, and always put your best foot forward. So that no matter how it turns out after, you’ll know you gave everything that you had to give and served it on the prettiest platter you had. If it still isn’t yours, then it will no longer have anything to do with you, but it will have everything to do with perfect timing.
MARIA: I endured a lot of teasing for it as I did for my skin color, height and inability to cope up with the latest play station games in my younger years at school. Growing up, I always wondered how I would turn out, and now that I know, I find myself very fortunate to be in a position of at-least-little influence to people my age (or older) and the youth alike. And, for that, I am grateful to the universe.
APRIEL: My childhood was a bit challenging, I experienced being bullied because of my skin color. It was depressing but good thing I am surrounded with people that never failed in inspiring me and letting me know how much they love me.
CYNTHIA: I was born in Germany. During my stay there, I was more into sports. When I came here in the Philippines, my mom pushed me into pageants. I won my first pageant and since then, I realised the fun and confidence it brings! If it wasn't for my mom, I wouldn't be where I am now.
MARIA: Growing closer to twenty-five everyday, and every day wanting to get married less and less because there is just so much to do. My life completely turned around in college. I said I would never join pageants or study philosophy, and boy was I wrong. When I studied philosophy, it turned my world around and inside out, shook it up a little and still hasn't stopped messing with me since, but I love it. I still love, and I always have loved, being alone with nature, especially the ocean. It's like my sanity, if I can't have it, I'll probably lose my mind. I've always had a nomadic soul, and I feel like, from time to time, I need to remind my brain what the rest of the world looks like and how beautiful it is so that I can get back to thinking of what I can do to make it better.
APRIEL: Every training comes with pressure and stress.
Knowing its purpose removes it all.
MARIA: If intense was measured on a scale of 1-10, training was an 11. Theoretically, it's basically the every-day practice of submitting yourself wholly and fully to a dream, but that's what dreams do. They require all of you, because even you know that all of you will never be enough. All of you is 10, the eleventh is luck.
CYNTHIA: Without hard work you don't get anywhere. I did my best in all training and preparations. I listened to what my mentors taught me. We had a hectic schedule the whole month of our preparations but we were able to manage through it.
APRIEL: It was the time when we meet Ms. Universe 2016 Pia. I had the chance to personally talk to her, she's so down to earth and inspiring.
CYNTHIA: It was the day before the pageant night, when we all went to Star City and had free rides everywhere! I'm glad I had co-candidates that were excited as I was when we heard we were able to go to Star City. That day, we forgot about competition 101% and focused on friendship.
That the lifestyle and mentality of the youth is what determines everything. It challenges and breaks norms and, at the same time, establishes new ones, and the sad truth is that it depends on what is popular.
It is hard to make something popular. In fact, it is totally random. Like viral phenomenon, you never know what’s going to tick or explode, and it doesn’t even depend on what’s new. Sometimes it doesn’t have meaning, and other times it varies. The point is, when you’re trying to speak to someone, you have to make sure they are looking at you and paying attention to you first. I figured that the best way to draw attention to things that matter is to stick it in front of them, to place it in their line of sight, show them what they need to see in the direction where they’re already looking. With the Philippines being a country that is very fond of pageants, BBP seemed -and still is- the most promising strategy for me for someone to capture the mind and heart of the Filipino, shake him and tell him to do something about everything, before it’s too late.
CYNTHIA: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I may have make up or not but if I'm not beautiful for them I wouldn't mind because I'm beautiful in my own different ways. And I think that beauty comes from within. If you have a beautiful heart, a mind and hand that knows how to give back to the community then you are truly beauty - especially to God.
APRIEL: Pageantry is a platform to showcase the real essence of being a woman and to experience the celebration of femininity. Beauty queens nowadays lifted the standards and created a new character definition of an empowered woman.
MARIA: I was always taught to care about the environment and people around me. I didn’t understand it so much when I was little, but my dad would make me pick up pieces of plastic on the street and properly put them into garbage bins. Looking back, it was a lesson in social responsibility, which actually prepared me to set a good example for my six younger siblings. If you want something done right, you really only have to do it by yourself, but only at first because are some problems that you just can’t fix by merely setting a good example alone. For instance, climate change, air pollution, graft and corruption or the preservation of indigenous culture and the list goes on and on. These are the problems we face as a global community, and that we must confront immediately together.
A MESSAGE FROM MARIA
MARIA: Find what you love to do and use it to help make the world better. Promote diversity and strengthen the bonds of our community by encouraging collaboration with people from different fields of interest. For the ladies who would like to join pageants: ask yourselves why. Remember the answer, because there will come a time that it will be the only thing left for you to hang on to. I’ve been to the derby and back, and I still think that dreams-ideas are the most powerful things in the universe. Dream big, work hard, make mistakes and don’t ever stop until you get where you want to be. Peace out.
hair & MUA
Apriel Smith (Ozar), Maria Gigante & Cynthia Thomalla (Origin Model Management)