“It doesn’t matter what’s been written in your story so far. It’s how you fill up the rest of the pages that counts.” I always consider that statement as an inspiration in my life experiences. Despite its shortness, it speaks so much to me and it quite tells a lot about me. It speaks so much to me because I always make it a point to thank the journey than just celebrate the destination, because it is what we go through that makes us better everyday. Our individual processes transformed us into the person that we are today. And it quite tells a lot about me because I am a book myself. I can either be judged from the surface, by simply having a single glance at my cover, or I can simply be opened and read with patience in order to be understood. I am an open book, but who and what I turn out to be depends on my reader. And now that my reign has already ended, you can say that I used that statement to sum up my Miss Silliman story. It obviously wasn’t perfect, but if we decide to make the most out of all the imperfections, then wouldn’t it be perfect enough?
My imperfect journey made me learn a lot. So let me take this opportunity to share it, in the hope that all of you would learn something from me too. My experiences made me realize that no matter what happens, or how bad a day may end, life goes on, and it will be better the next day. An example would be a Miss Silliman candidate having to observe some people vandalize her posters, but in the end, she turned out to be Miss Silliman, and that was me. Because that is how we rise against all odds. We remain humble by what today brings, but we make sure that we do something about it, for us to be able to come out stronger by tomorrow, and for us to be able to fight again. Since the whole Miss Silliman experience opened doors for me to interact with a lot of new people, I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these four things: 1. A rainy day, 2. A tangled pair of earphones, 3. Victory, 4. Loss. (1) A rainy and gloomy day, where it feels good, but it isn’t convenient. It’s either the person lives in the moment and appreciates what the world can offer, or the person can complain the whole day. (2) This is where a person’s patience is tested. How patient are we when it comes to the things that we want? (3) How does one celebrate his or her victory? With the victory, how many people will he or she forget to thank? (4) How does one face his or her failure? How many people will he or she blame? These are just some of the thoughts and insights that I believe helped me win the crown. I got there not just because of my “strategy.” I got there because of my character towards it. I really wanted to be Miss Silliman, so I learned how it is to (1) adjust, (2) be patient, (3) be thankful, and (4) accept. Of course, I wasn’t able to get rid of some misunderstandings along the way. But then I learned that regardless of our relationship with the people we choose to surround ourselves with, WE WILL MISS THEM, so it is more beneficial for us if we choose to forgive. I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as “last chance” because every day we are given countless chances. If we just grab and hold on to these unending chances, then we are assured that we aren’t just alive, WE ARE LIVING, because life is what we make of it. I also learned that we shouldn’t go through life wanting to be mere catchers or receivers. We need to be able to throw something back, because life requires balance. The whole journey made me learn that if we face situations with an open heart, we will end up with the right decisions. I’ve learned that no matter how hard we try to explain ourselves to people, most of them will choose to understand based on their own level of understanding. And I found out that the best remedy for it is simply reaching out to people. It is important that we don’t just stay connected. WE SHOULD BE CONNECTING. Lastly, the most important thing I’ve learned is, even when I have pains, it doesn’t mean that I have to be one, and that it is completely okay to say that “I choose to be the better person.” There are those who can’t and who won’t believe in us, in the changes we choose to partake, and in the decisions that we make, but what’s important is believing in ourselves. WE MUST TRUST THE PROCESS. WE MUST TRUST OURSELVES.
With those said, I have fully understood that in life, we are not who or what has changed us, we are who and what we can change. We are what we can inflict upon others. In life, if we are lucky enough, we are able to find people we consider special. And if we are blessed enough, we are able to keep them. These people changes our lives just by being part of it. Those who makes us believe that there is really something good in the world. People who convince us that there are unlocked doors just waiting for us to open it. So to my life-changing people, let me take this opportunity to thank each one of you. To the Miss Silliman committee last year (Kasey Kamille Flores, Sophia Diago, Val Amiel Vestil, Melissa Astillero) and this year (Hanz Denzil Villahermosa, Samantha Gubaton, Kenn Adrian Duro) and its creatives team, thank you for the patience and for making it all possible. To my fellow candidates, we have found sisters in each other. Despite the competition, we managed to build a strong friendship, in which we will treasure forever. To my close friends: Jireh Philip Acabal, Lianne Sherlyn Lagrimas, Angel Clyla Amit, Jan Mari Cupang, Mary Joy Violeta, Luizsa Nina Romero and Katrina Alexandra Renacia, thank you for always lifting me up on my dark and empty days. To my mentors: Tita Melchy Teves, Tita Josip Tumapa, Tita Bianca Serion, Tita Genson Jikoi Vilar, Tita Tanzy Tristan, Tita Aaron Aspera, Tita Carlou Bernaldez, Tita Kim Duran, Tita Lily de la Pena, Tita Diadem Desembrano, Tita Joy Ann Ong, Tita Bayong Fontelo, Mommy Yvonne Du, Tita Lea Reyes, Kuya Vic June Nocete, Kuya Reynald Aguit and Sir Paul Edward Bajas, thank you for guiding me every time I lost my way. Thank you for always cheering me on. To my CBA family: Atty. Gloria Futalan, Ma’am Heide Sierra, Atty. Ingrid Tinagan, Atty. Dan Peter Douglas Tinagan, Sir Khristian Rei Rivera, Sir Rosewell Cataylo, Sir Earl Calingacion, Atty. Jenni Lorico, Ma’am Dina Remoto, Sir John Jalandoni, Ate Avegail Quibido, Ate Mary Marcia Salcedo, Ma’am Leizel Tabor and Ma’am Raychil Nasataya, thank you for always helping me get through the hard times, and for always trying your best to make things easier for me. Thank you for the shared laughter that helped me get through the sad times and even at times when I feel confused.
To my family: Mommy Neonette Kitane, Kuya Milton John Kitane, Mommy Neonette Tanquintic, Lola Dorotea Kitane, Daddy Jimmy Quinones and Tita Golda Lantaca, thank you for always believing in me, especially at times when I can no longer trust myself. These people will always have a special place in my heart, for they were with me at my lowest and they still loved me when I wasn’t very lovable. No beauty titlist is perfect, but she can always lead herself into a path of learning.
I could have never imagined myself being where I am now and being who I am now in the years that have passed, but this whole Miss Silliman journey taught me to dream by heart and not by mind, because we should not only make our dreams happen, WE MUST LOVE THEM. We must not miss out on something that could be great just because it could also be difficult, that’s exactly why I will always be thankful that the path I took brought me to this destination. It was one journey that will always be worth remembering. So I say that this isn’t goodbye, rather a start of something even greater. Where would my next dream take me? This has been Aiko Kitane, your 70th Miss Silliman, saying: “Once a Miss Silliman, always a Miss Silliman.”