Ma. Jata A. Ariola | Features Editor
Miss Silliman, the longest running beauty pageant in Asia, is on its 72nd year, with 10 candidates vying not just for the title or the most coveted Sillimaniana Regalia, but for their advocacies to be heard and to be acted upon. With beauty, strength, and passion, these candidates will prove to us that they have joined not just a pageant, but a community of women striving to fight ignorance and social apathy.
Let us get to know each one of them in their own words–of their dreams, their stories and their advocacy.
Ivy Marie Salaum
College of Mass Communication
I am a proud full-blooded Boholano, and I feel privileged to share the beauty and culture of my province.
My advocacy is called STEPS: Social Transformation Empowering Parcels of Society. It is an advocacy program that aims to empower and strengthen the youth–parcels of society– through lectures and workshops following five (5) pillars, namely: Spirit, Trademark, Environment, Playfield and Success.
I, together with the STEPS members, will be conducting activities that can address social issues.
If I would be given a chance to talk to Sillimanians, I would love to tell them how important it is to put a smile on someone or everybody’s face. As a child, I always thought that Peter Pan was real and he could actually make someone fly. As I grew older, I realized that Peter Pan is a fantasy, a myth; and since then, I realized that he may not be a real person but he is an emotion embedded in me, in all of us. Perhaps, we can be someone’s Peter Pan.
One pageant will always be unique where outside the pageant bubble, social relevance happens. It focuses on compassion and humanitarian efforts, while being dynamic. It is celebrating pride and honor and creating stages full of hope, determination and strength. It is a pageant that is more than just a competition, but a pageant with a purpose–and that is Miss Silliman.
Chanel Moira Pepino
College of Performing and Visual Arts
I love to draw, act, host events and travel. I’m into anything fun like going out with friends, but I can always be comfortable at home binge-watching shows.
My advocacy is to be able to harness art as a tool for discourse and, eventually, activism. There is always the stereotype that art has no sense in the “real world” and does not promise a job after you pursue it. I advocate for the use of art to talk about different issues, especially in what it is like for women and LGBTQIA+ persons who have been abused in urban and rural areas, and to give voice to these issues through questioning established traditional systems of pageantry.
My greatest challenge was battling depression, suicide and alcoholism this time last year. I was a new student who was not aware of what I was putting in my body, and I became very dependent on alcohol to keep me sane. I’m still depressed, but I‘ve sought help and my mental hurdles have better coping mechanisms now. I’m on the way to becoming sober and living a better life, and I’m hoping I can be good to myself.
Miss Silliman is a wonderful platform for women to assert themselves and be able to share their advocacies to a higher stage. Physical beauty is secondary because true beauty comes out when a woman speaks her mind and knows everything by heart. I hope to shape that into the future Miss Silliman pageants and hopefully spark that change in everyone else who thinks otherwise.
Mikhaella Lucinda Ponce de Leon
College of Business and Accountancy
I love the stars. I love staying by the beach with my friends and just staring up at the night sky, thinking, wondering why a 5-foot-tall artist who loves her cat made her way into this dazzling, endless universe.
My advocacy is entitled: Be Your Hero – Arts, Sports and Skills Development: A Child’s Weapon Against Drugs and Criminality. The issue of drugs and criminality here in the Philippines is disheartening. My advocacy is not just a one-time thing. It involves a process of tracking the progress of the children involved. It will include activities that will strengthen their character and encourage them to live a happy, fulfilled and productive life far from the influences of drugs and crime.
I dream of a world where every one of us will no longer feel the need for external validation to find love and self-worth. I dream of a world where everyone finds happiness in who they are and what they do.
I dream of a Philippines that is free from drug abuse and criminality, where citizens no longer fear walking the streets alone at night.
Miss Silliman provides a platform for women to give a voice for those who couldn’t speak or be heard. The crown and fame are just the bonuses in winning the pageant because the lives you have touched, and the hearts and minds you have captivated will forever be the real, precious prize.
College of Nursing
Since I was little, I developed my love for dancing. It gives me the feeling of freedom, the freedom to move my body to its limit, and it also relieves me of the stress I experience in my academics.
My advocacy is entitled “Take Time to Make Time: Prevention of Noncommunicable Disease through Physical Fitness.” It aims to encourage the adolescents and adults to take time away from work to exercise regularly in order to avoid the acquisition of diseases. I will spread my advocacy through going from one barangay to another, with the intention to induct the participants as the new members of my advocacy. With this, the members will be the ones to continue conducting the activities in their own barangay.
I dream for us all to become understanding and compassionate with one another. May there be no more violence and hatred but only love and peace.
The Miss Silliman pageant is an avenue for women to empower the lives of many and make a difference especially through our advocacies. It does not only advertise the beauty of Silliman women but their intellect and strength to start a change in the world.
Christine Grace Torncino
College of Arts and Sciences
I love drawing, watching movies and reading. I am interested in arts, music and outdoor activities.
My advocacy is EnviroSENSE: igniting interest in science to understand environment preservation. The beauty of science and technology will help children understand more about how much the human activities impact the environment. This will teach them to be more responsible, specifically in disposing their trash.
My message to all Sillimanians and to myself is to BE THE GAME CHANGER. That wherever we go, may our presence and work have a great impact that can cause positive change to the current state of any institution or environment that we are in.
In joining Miss Silliman, I have learned and have grown to become a better Sillimanian that is more responsible and compassionate in reaching out and doing service to others and to the University.
Amidala Gabrielle Quisumbing
Institute of Rehabilitative Sciences
I am someone who loves to read and spends her free time reading sappy love stories or sci-fi fiction novels. However, I haven’t touched a novel in a long time since I am now drowning in Anatomy and Physiology books. I love food. I love sleep. And most of all, I love organizing events that cater to and benefit the community.
My advocacy is called PROJECT QUEEN: Elucidating and Empowering Differently Abled Children. It is called Project Queen because I want to be able to make differently abled children feel like princes and princesses for a day. I will be organizing a talk and a program, and I will make them do arts & crafts afterwards that reflect on the story I will share about not giving up on dreams. They will also play games, showcase their talents, and wear their crowns.
I dream that one day, women, men and every gender in the spectrum will be empowered and will learn to love each other. But before all of that, I dream that one day, I will also learn to love and accept myself.
I want to be able to use the power of social media to show the real purpose of the Miss Silliman Pageant. I will make it a priority to not only share my advocacy but also the advocacies of the other nine girls because at the end of the day, it is not a competition but a celebration of the Silliman woman.
Erica Lenn Villagracia
I aspire to be a successful accountant someday. I listen to music, cook and bake during my free time. I am also interested in travelling.
My advocacy is called “Tigom: A Journey to Financial Literacy.” It is about being aware of the importance of saving money and a guide to the proper way of handling money. “TIGOM” is done through a Financial Literacy Camp, where I will share to the youth the ways to save money while they’re still young and at the same time give some tips on how to generate income in their own little ways.
Due to the extreme optimism that I have, I dream for a borderless world, one without discrimination, violence and greed. I dream for a more sensitive and driven Philippine society.
Miss Silliman is a life changer and a perfect platform for change. My Miss Silliman journey contributed a lot in making me a better woman. As one of the highlights and most awaited annual event of the university, it is the best avenue to inspire people and make them rethink their actions.
College of Engineering and Design
I am engaged in dancing since I was little, and now I’m currently having Latin dancesport classes. I love drawing and I am an art enthusiast. I spend most of my time sleeping. I know many agree that sleeping is what I’m mostly good at.
As more environmental concerns are brought to the fore, the more I need to intensify my push in building youth environmental stewardship and empathy towards a greener society through engineering technicalities. Together with the people and organizations with the intention to wage war on waste and environmental concerns, I am hopeful of moving the operation of my program forward by making it prominent and more influential. Letting my advocacy reach the schools is one of the many action points.
Seeing the kids learn from your activity and allowing them to share experiences with the natural world to foster their desire to protect life was my ultimate sought purpose. And when I accomplished this purpose during my special project last July 28, more than I have moved them to be stewards of the environment, they have moved me.
Oghogho Naomi Ovonlen
College of Medicine
I am from Benin City, Nigeria, and my talent is singing. Spirituality is my philosophy in life.
The title of my advocacy is “Silent Screams.” There is what seems to be a blanket of silence that still surrounds abuse, even with all the efforts that have been made concerning it. My goal is to encourage victims of abuse to speak up and to report their experiences with the aim of reinforcing societal awareness and response, to educate people against stigmatizing victims and foster love and mutual respect in the hearts of everyone.
After Miss Silliman, I plan to partner with already established organizations involved in issues like this here in Dumaguete (like GWAVE) as I can leverage on their platform to reach out to more people.
Also, I have a flair for arts (music, dance, poetry, art works, drama etc.). So instead of the usual pattern of info drives, I plan on using Arts as a medium to raise awareness for my advocacy.
Some examples would be: The cloth line project: this is a project where (old) clothes are displayed on a clothesline, and people who have been abuse victims write their stories on the clothes and then members of the community come around to view them. Another one is a themed variety show: this is a show that includes showing different forms of art (poetry, drama, singing etc.) related to abuse. At the end of every event, the participants would be encouraged to take a pledge to speak up concerning any form of abuse around them, to be more watchful over those around them to prevent abuse, and to be supportive towards abuse victims.
My Nickname is Nicky, I’m 24 years old and currently working on my Masters Degree on Educational Management. My hobbies and interests are dancing, hiking, listening to and playing music. Every winter season in China, I would make snowmen, throw snow balls with my family and friends and we even taste the snow every year which is really fun for us.
My advocacy is utilizing international student community for intercultural understanding. I desire to implement my advocacy through education, workshops, social media posting, variety shows, and community outreach.
Interpersonal relationships matter to me the most. As I forge a new life as a foreigner living far away from my immediate family, good relationships have become my inspiration. I have become increasingly aware of how strong community ties bring peace. I want the world to feel a sense of community by being an instrument in developing interpersonal relationships wherever I go.
More than the looks and talents, Miss Silliman emphasizes beauty with a heart, it is a platform for candidates from different colleges to passionately promote their advocacies. A Miss Silliman is a woman that possesses exceptional competence, character, and faith that our school has been instilling for the past 117 years. Moreover, Miss Silliman involves a group of great leaders who are willing to implement their advocacies now and in the future.