Two of the reigning Bb. Pilipinas are, as you must know by now, "repeaters." Thereís Maricar Balagtas whoís now in Quito, Ecuador, competing in the 2004 Miss Universe Pageant (grand finals on June 2, Manila Time, covered live by Star World, Channel 25 on SkyCable) and Margaret Ann "Maan" Bayot, Bb. Pilipinas-International who planed in last Saturday morning from Colombia with the bacon Ė well, almost! She bagged only the second place in the newly-revived Maja-World Contest won by Miss Colombia Sandra Melena Sanchez (followed by, after Maan, Miss Canada, Miss Paraguay and Miss Bolivia).
Maricar herself has already won an international title, Miss Globe International, two years ago, the same year Maan placed second runner-up (to Miss Lebanon and Miss Turkey) in the Miss Internet contest. They both won their Bb. Pilipinas titles after two attempts.
Yes, the two beauties are, well, "experienced" and theyíre not ashamed to admit it.
"What counts is how you finish," said Maan, 21, a CEU B.S. Tourism graduate, during an interview with Funfare four hours after her arrival (on a PAL flight via San Francisco).
Saying that experience is still the best teacher, Maan is confident that when she goes to Beijing (the new "beauty capital" of the world; itís also where the Miss World is being held) in October for the Miss International contest (won by three Filipinas so far, Gemma Cruz in 1965, Aurora Pijuan in 1970 and Melanie Marquez in 1979).
"Iíve learned a lot from the Miss Internet and the Maja-World contests, so Iím more confident when I go to Beijing. The two contests (Maja and Internet) are conducted in different ways. I can say that Iím well-versed in the ins and outs of international beauty contests."
After the Maja-World contest, Maan stayed in Colombia for crash courses (poise and projection, pasarella or how to walk properly, make-up day and night, etc.) with Javier Murillo who has been training past Bb. Pilipinas beauties before they embarked for the international derby.
"Being a beauty queen involves hard work and lots of sacrifices," admitted Maan who had to shed five pounds (from 121 when she competed for the Maja-World title) Ė "And I still have to lose some more!" Ė to suit her 5í10" frame. "I canít eat just any kind of food. In Colombia, the doctor advised me to just eat chicken breast (no skin, please!), tuna and salad, with very little rice but mostly bread and lots of water and fresh juices, supplemented with multi-vitamins (Centrum and Enervon-C).
Asked if she also had to sacrifice her love life, Maan said, "I donít have a love life. If I have a boyfriend, I donít think he can cope with the lifestyle of a a beauty queen. Meanwhile, Iím doing all this for my family," added Maan, eldest of three children.
Win or lose in the Miss International contest, Maan said that sheís determined to put her college degree into practice.
What about showbiz? (Thatís where most beauty queens eventually end up, donít they?)
"Itís an entirely new field," said Maan. "Iím not closing my door to any opportunity that comes along. I want to try any field where I qualify."
Martin again a hit (in Florida)
Funfareís Florida DPA reported that Martin Nieveraís show at the 3,000-seater Hard Rock in Orlando was a success. The venue is known as Orlandoís best, with its imposing columns, majestic archways, grand entrance and the latest in sound/light technology. Itís known as the Coliseum of Rock where the likes of Kenny Loggins, Michelle Branch, Pink, Coldplay and Alicia Keys, among others, have performed.
In the audience during Martinís sold-out show were not only Filipinos but also Americans and other foreigners who were, according to the DPA, "constantly on their feet with Martinís every number."
Among those in the audience was Gary Valencianoís mother (with relatives) to whom Martin dedicated his new song, Ikaw.
Martin is now performing in Atlanta, Georgia, and is scheduled for another show on May 29 in Rhode Island.
More Pinoys making waves abroad
Besides Maan Bayot, Martin Nievera, Jasmine Trias and a dozen other Filipinos, thereís another kababayan making waves abroad. His name is Anthony "Tony" Ocampo who recently received a Visual Effects Society (VES) award for his work in Helen of Troy, a popular TV series in the US.
The Funfare correspondent said that VES is an elite group of artists specializing in computer-generated images, boasting of members like George Lucas and James Cameron.
The category Ocampo won in was called Best Miniatures or Models in a Program. He beat the other nominees (for Battlestar Galactica, Buffy, Walking with Dinosaurs and Children of Dune).
If you still donít know, the best animators and visual artists in Hollywood are Filipino. Most of the digital animators who worked on the hit movie Finding Nemo were our kababayan.
Keep up the good work, kabayans!
Tue Sep 28, 7:07 AM ET
Contestants for Miss International beauty pageants pose for photographers during a news conference in Tokyo September 28, 2004. Delegates from 61 countries and regions will compete in the final contest in Beijing on October 16. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
see links:Mabuhay beauties