Despite challenges, Miss Universe PH remains as beacon of hope for dreamers, says head Shamcey Supsup-Lee

Despite the challenges and limitations brought about the unprecedented pandemic gripping the world, the Miss Universe Philippines pageant has shown its audacity and courage to embark on its “bubble-like” coronation night set on Sunday, October 25 at the Baguio Country Club.

As the first independent pageant to select the next Miss Universe bet representing the Philippines, the event faced much scrutiny and doubt amid the difficulties arising from the health crisis. Yet despite this, organizers pulled through, still bringing together the brightest, most astounding candidates from all over the Philippines to vie for the first-ever Miss Universe Philippines crown.

It’s been a challenging year for Miss Universe Philippines,” said Shamcey Supsup-Lee, National Director for Miss Universe Philippines in an interview with ABS-CBN News’ Dyan Castillejo in this video. “We are very lucky and blessed that even though we had to face the most challenging times in Miss Universe Philippines, we were still able to push through with the pageant. We are so grateful to Baguio City. Of course, the Baguio Country Club for allowing us to hold the pageant here.”

According to Shamcey, they were encouraged to continue this year’s pageant because of the hope it brings to dreamers, especially those directly affected by the pandemic.

Pushing through with the pageant also inspires others that even though this pandemic has changed our lives, our plans, or it has destroyed all our aspirations... na life doesn’t end here. We can still continue to dream. And hopefully through this pageant, the girls can give hope to those who are losing hope with their life na there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Shamcey stressed.

Shamcey added that the pageant can actually act as a vehicle for the candidates to spread goodwill and actual acts of charity.

We want to use Miss Universe Philippines as a platform to impact others as well. So that’s why we ask the girls to choose a beneficiary that they wanted to help in this pandemic so they have their codes. Every time the fans would subscribe to the Ring Light series (streaming service), a part of that will go to their chosen beneficiary,” she declared.

Organizing the pageant was certainly as unprecedented as the times we are in, having to follow strict protocols and measures to ensure the safety and good health of the candidates and staff. This included having candidates undergo COVID-19 PCR tests from the time they departed from Manila to Baguio, to regular checks every five days at the venue.

That’s how stringent our protocols to make sure that our top priority pa din will be the health of everybody who’s part of Miss Universe Philippines,” Shamcey added.

But the conditions could be a blessing in disguise for the candidates, as it provides an effective training ground for them in joining other pageants, if not being the titleholder representing the country in the Miss Universe 2020 pageant.

Shamcey noted the pandemic “helped in a way that it was the time for them to reflect and really hanapin sa loob nila why am I doing this?” This certainly, she said affected their drive for the crown, aside from allowing each candidate to do their hairstyling or make-up on their own without the usual droves of hairdressers or artists.

That’s enough training for them as well. In Miss Universe, you have to do your own hairstyling and makeup. In the international pageant, ganoon din ang gagawin nila,” Shamcey emphasized. But time and again, they could still consult with their trusted stylists on polishing their work through video conferencing. “So sometimes may Zoom tutorials sila na o tama ba itong makeup na ito. Should I add more?

Shamcey said the coronation night is incorporated with Filipino identity from start to finish, which is something that should make the Filipino viewers proud. It will also feature the designs of local designers in the evening gown competition and the classy, unique style of Dubai-based Filipino designer Furne One in the swimsuit competition. 

Miss Quezon City Maria Therese Gumabao likewise shared her thoughts on her experiences during the preliminary interview, which she described as “fun and casual” and very “informative for the judges to get to know us more and our cities.” She also said that despite all the challenges they are facing in the midst of the pandemic and the stringent protocols they are dealing with, “we are all coping and we are all helping each other and that’s the most important thing.”

Meanwhile, Miss Universe Philippines judge Binibining Pilipinas Universe 2012 Janine Tugonon shared what she thinks is the most important factors or criteria to gain an edge in the competition.

I think Q&A is very important,” Janine pointed out. “I would look at someone who could definitely convey her thoughts properly even if it’s in English or in their own dialect, may interpreter naman. So I want someone who could kill the Q&A round.” 

Shamcey was likewise ecstatic that Bb. Pilipinas Universe 2019 Gazini Ganados will be on hand to crown her successor on the pageant night. She thanked Gazini and Binibining Pilipinas Charities chair Stella Araneta for the honor.