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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Beauty Queen: Mary Ella Lou Llanes

Mary Ella is a contestant in the Mutya ng San Francisco beauty pageant. She is presently studying Accountancy, Business, and Management and is an advocate for Single Parents Empowerment

What inspired you to participate in this pageant?

To be honest, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur is quite far from my hometown. I have to travel almost 12 hours to get here. But I believe this pageant is one of the many unique beauty contests that has proven that women in pageantry can indeed lead and create better communities. Some believe that beauty pageants can be an exploitation of beauty, but I say beauty pageants, especially Mutya ng San Francisco, give us women the opportunity to address issues that are often neglected. It gives us a sense of purpose in a world where women are often undervalued and underestimated.

What qualities do you think are important for a beauty queen?

My mother raised me to be a woman with substance, grace, and purpose, not just with glitz and glamour. I believe that these qualities should be present in a beauty queen because if she were to lead, she would have to be the strongest, the bravest, and the most transformational soldier of God in order to change lives.

How do you plan to use your platform if you win this pageant?

To win the crown would mean getting a shot at changing people’s lives, not just any people, but my beloved people of San Francisco. I want to create a community where no one would even question the variety of women joining beauty pageants and wonder why beauty pageants even exist. I want to transform their lives so they would not even think that beauty pageants are useless. I want to prove to those who do not believe in platforms like this that they can actually transform, inspire, and even change lives for the better. To start that, I want to be the woman who gives every single parent the opportunity to enhance their skills and sharpen their talents, enabling them to have a long shot at earning and creating a better future for their families because that is what they deserve.

How do you stay confident and maintain a positive attitude during the competition?

As I have joined various beauty pageants, I have always been the youngest, and I make sure to learn from my Ates. In this competition, I am now one of the Ates, and I always see to it that I look at things in a different way. Although this is a competition, we ladies are bonded by this pageant, and we have the sisterhood anyone could ever ask for. At the end of the day, we might be competing for the crown, but we are also little girls deep inside who just love to spend time with each other. That is what I always look forward to, which has kept me grounded and positive in this competition.

What challenges have you faced during your pageant journey, and how have you overcome them?

Since I’m from Cebu, I have to travel all the time for photoshoots, meetings, and practices, and it’s not easy. I even have to miss some of my exams just so I can be present here. But I always look for ways to understand why this is happening. I am here for a reason. At the end of the day, a positive mindset will always help you stay on track.

What do you think sets you apart from the other contestants in this pageant?

As I have come across these beautiful ladies, I have also realized our differences. Aside from our beauties, I can see that what makes me stand out from the rest of them is my drive and determination. Traveling all the way from Cebu to San Francisco is not an easy trip from your house to your kitchen, but I do that every single time because I don’t want to throw away my shot. I want to change people’s lives, and in order to do so, I am willing to sacrifice a lot and be the goal-driven woman I am.

How do you balance your pageant duties with other responsibilities in your life?

As a graduating student, I had to miss exams just so I could participate in this competition, and it was not great to miss school. So, returning to school, I had to cope and deal with the matters at hand along with what I had missed, but that’s just the beauty in it. To be able to learn while also doing something that I love.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing young women today, and how can it be addressed?

Young women today endure an overwhelming amount of discrimination, harassment, and violence. They constantly battle feelings of being undervalued, opposed, and unheard, much like many of us do. This struggle persists throughout their lives, often leaving them lost and uncertain. This is where we, as beauty queens, step in. Instead of merely offering sympathy, we should respond to their emotions as we wish our own invalidated feelings to be acknowledged—with compassion and understanding. Sometimes, all we need is a comforting hug from someone who loves us, to help us rise after we’ve fallen. That simple act of kindness can truly save lives, offering hope and strength when it’s needed most.

How do you plan to give back to your community if you win this pageant?

My community is full of amazing, passionate, and brave women. It’s sad that they have to go through so much to support me and my cause. That is why when I win the crown, I will stand up proudly, waving to the women I carry with me in my heart to show that I have made it, we have made it.

What advice would you give to young women who are considering entering a pageant?

My advice would be, “Be yourself.” Such simple words but really hard to apply. In this industry, there might be times we have to lose ourselves just so we can shine, but that is not it. We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are here because of our unique qualities, dignity, and simply because of who we truly are. We don’t let the world tell us otherwise.

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