The Filipino Identity Crisis And Why I Don’t Keep Up With Beauty Pageants Anymore

Okay, before I begin, I am more than willing to admit that I’m not an expert on beauty. Being undeniably male (though I do get mistaken for a girl over the phone and voice chat from time to time), I can only look at the beauty pageants many typical Filipinos try to keep up with as a spectator and an ugly one at that. I am writing this not to bash the contestants or the spirit of the competition, but to express my disappointment over what the idea of beauty has become for many of our countrymen.

Look, there’s nothing really wrong with beauty pageants and our interest in them. Indeed, to be honest, I used to see it as just another pastime, similar to how one would watch sports and the like. However, over the years, I see more and more how warped the beauty pageant scene in the Philippines is becoming. Of course, you’re welcome to disagree, as always. But then, I’d like to ask you to hear me out first and my three points before you present me your own counterarguments. Again, I feel a need to stress that I’m not doing this because I am offended personally by beauty pageants in the Philippines but rather, I have seen what they’ve become and how they’ve become detrimental to our society.

Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach is this year's Miss Universe.

Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach is this year’s Miss Universe.

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I’m not saying that we should get rid of beauty pageants. Indeed, I still believe that natural beauty is something that we should be proud of as a people. But then, when one takes a closer look at how Pinoys view their own beauty pageants, it becomes apparent that there is something wrong with our culture and how we see ourselves and the rest of the world. I also wrote this piece to compliment these two older posts as a form of tribute. So, without further ado, I give you my three top observations about Pinoy pageants and why they disappoint me:

Pinoy Pageants Trample On The Idea Of Self-Love

For a country filled with nothing but hopeless romantics, the typical Pinoy seems to lack a good bit of self-love, the primary ingredient in finding “true love”. Indeed, it’s quite apparent in a lot of our romance shows and films that loving oneself is not a factor in how “love” works for a lot of Filipinos as summed up by these two articles.

Now look, a lot of our beauty contestants may be beautiful but they look nothing like the common Filipina. I have nothing against Halfies, to be honest, but I think we should focus more on finding contestants that look more “local” per se, than women who look like foreigners. Indeed, one just needs to hear the names of Pia Wurtzbach and Venus Raj to know that they are not bred from local stock but are German and Arabic, respectively. Of course, like I already said, there’s nothing wrong with Halfies but they are not representative of the Filipino people and are therefore not a good example of what “Filipina Beauty” actually is.

One reason I’m more than a little vexed by this is that I have a female friend who is so insecure in her own appearance because of her tanned skin and, at least according to her, unflattering nose. However, I will still say that she is perhaps one of the more beautiful women I know as she is a woman of considerable height with well-proportioned assets and some of the whitest and strongest teeth I’ve ever seen in a woman. Unfortunately, she constantly compares herself to various beauty contestants and celebrities on TV which she seems to think are what “beautiful” should be.

I can probably find the time to watch beauty pageants again when they can present contestants who are natural-born Filipino citizens with native parents who have been around for at least a generation on our islands. Indeed, I find myself asking the question: “Who will love us when we do not love ourselves for who we are?”

They Cater To The Cinderella Mentality

I actually find fitness and bodybuilding competitions much more interesting than beauty pageants simply because perfecting one’s body and maintaining one’s figure is a lot more challenging than simply being “born” beautiful. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being born beautiful but then, for me at least, it’s just a bonus. After all, even a woman who is born beautiful can become ugly if she does not take good care of herself.

As I see it, Pinoys like beauty pageants because it caters to the idea that beauty translates to goodness and that being born beautiful means you’re meant for great things and, if you happen to be less than what is defined as beautiful, then you probably won’t amount to anything. They forget that beauty isn’t everything and that maintaining one’s beauty also requires considerable effort and resolve as well. Indeed, typical Pinoys still prefer the idea of privileges one is born with rather than rewards that one can earn through dedication, perseverance and hard work.

One reason I prefer fitness and bodybuilding competitions is that a lot of the contestants may look like your average Pinoy or Pinay when they started but through will, effort and a willingness to sacrifice turned them into the examples of human perfection that they are.

And before I end this section, let me tell you a personal detail: I will always prefer a strong and hard working “hipon” over surgery-obsessed and chemically-overdosed blobs any day!

Encouraging Credit-Grabbing

Tying in with the two I’ve already mentioned, typical Pinoys are obsessed with beauty pageants as they feel that they can grab credit from the contestants. Instead of seeing the victories of our countrywomen as a result of their own efforts, majority of typical Pinoys simply think that they won because of their “Filipino blood” as if everything boils down to one’s blood and not their own efforts and resolve. And this despite the fact that Ms. Wurtzbach isn’t even a full-blooded Filipino and that, going by the way Pinoys tend to think, the Germans have equal claim to her victory.

[Photo courtesy PhilStar.]

35 Replies to “The Filipino Identity Crisis And Why I Don’t Keep Up With Beauty Pageants Anymore”

  1. Filipino’s preoccupation with beauty pageants remind me of Latin American culture. Women are sexualized and they’re value is based on they’re external beauty, which in Philippine and Latin American cultures resembles European/Caucasian facial features. In Latin America, especially Mexico, other than sexual roles, women are not respected much. Education is not really an equalizer there as it is in the Philippines. However, my observation is that Philippine culture is heading in the direction of over-sexualization and degradation of women’s roles as evident in female dancers commonly gyrating on stage in family time TV programs.

    What happens to women when they begin to age or when they’re bodies take on a motherly shape after childbirth? Are they to be discarded and devalued? If media and Philippine values stress so much importance on looks, what message is being conveyed to women who do not possess European features or possess the body of a gyrating t.v. show dancer (which little girls emulate nowadays)? Little girls will grow up thinking all they need is to look good and they have the ticket to success.

    I’d hate to see Philippine culture deteriorate to that of Latin American countries were women compete for men because they were never taught to value higher education and all the only role they know is to be a sexual object. That is degrading and demoralizing.

    In the states beauty contests are not taken as seriously as they are in the Philippines. The value placed on these contests makes one think that in such cultures there isn’t much else of value or anything else to be proud of except one’s looks. That’s sad.

    1. the insults are endless with ageing women just because they are ageing..”tuyot, maluwang, wala nang asim…..” but ageing is a natural thing so why ridicule it? But here goes old men parading their younger conquest, i always thougth it is unfair. But anyway… what i like to say is that sexism is alive and kicking here in our country, where women are still seen as only for the pleasure of men… (female orgasm is somehow still a taboo to talk about) , the mindset that without a man you are incomplete fuels this sexism, men will have this “be thankful i am your husband” mindset so be happy and content while i collect more women…. (note: i know not all men are like that, i meet few good men myself)

  2. They must have exert some effort to look like that, being born beautiful is one thing, but to maintain the beauty is another one. So let us not say for a fact that they really did nothing for their beauty because we don’t know. I’m an admirer of beauty, because it is easy to do….but after 10 minutes i tend to search for other qualities that is not visible with the eyes like attitude and character and her principles if ever we got a chance to talk. I’m more inclined to admire a woman if i could have a fruitful conversation with her.

    This is waht filipinos dont want to do, to search for something not visible to the eyes because it is “work” and they don want that. Using the eyes is easier and a no brainer… which loops back to the anti-intellectualism of the filipinos.

  3. upon learning that Filipino-German Miss Wurtzbach won this year’s Miss Universe crown, I quickly told my 10-year old daughter (a what you call a ‘halfie’) matter of fact about it. She responded with ‘so’? is that the nobel prize in science or economics? and why would they call it miss universe when all contestants are from earth? would it save thousands of stray dogs and cats? sometimes, it’s hard to argue with kids because they’re just soblatantly honest.

    1. Exactly. It appears that the majority of the population (in the Philippines and similar developing countries) treat beauty crowns as if they were on par with the nobel prize, but at second thought, maybe these people have no concept, whatsoever, what a nobel prize is or that there are other valuable pursuits such as those that pertain to the intellect or spirit (foreign, under-explored areas), thus the emphasis on outward appearance.

      1. Not just in developing worlds, but all countries. Look how in the U.S., celebrities (movie & sports stars) are treated & compensated 1000x more highly than scientists & educators.

  4. Here’s the thing to your Pinoy identity crisis. Most of us also get fixated to this notion that the stereotype should be like tanned skin, short stature, snub-nosed, etc.

    If you take a step back to ancient history, there’s no such thing as “Philippines” at that time. The archipelago was pretty much up for grabs for the Malay and the Chinese; if not fragmented local vassal estates. The mentality should be something about attitude, not the colour of your skin or even racial background.

    We were a melting pot of cultures, colours, races, whatever, and we continue to do so, but we still somehow fail to recognise that, even on how the country ever really came about.

    We are like Latin America, but now that Latin has been stripped off and these days to be educated is like to be cloned Americans speaking slang and pretty much indulging in Americanism, that learnt English is such a profound basis for competent intelligence.

    And it’s just funny how winning beauty contests is starting to become a national sport for this country. I mean, seriously, a sports reporter asked to cover a Miss Universe pageant in her segment of the news for days?

    And then there is the undying PINOY PRIDE, promoted by the media and pretty much everyone else follows. So there you go, you have the proud “Philippians” that make up some noize! Haha.

  5. Though what I’m going to say is off topic, I would like to tell the gabriela, teddy casino and other fucking almost-but-not-too-obvious-communist groups to shut the fuck up because pia’s entitled to her own opinion about the us military base. And to miriam defensor shut up too and how dare you grandstand and tell in social media that pia should have a talk with you as if you’re going to preach a toddler to behave. I don’t like beauty pageants but I stand against these fake patriots trying to supress individual opinions just because they hate Americans. Political trapos & ninkaputs like gabriela and defensor should stay away from ordinary events and put their hatred and racist egos in their own backyards. I think bayan muna and gabriela should focus on spending taxpayer’s money on better things rather than bullying a simple idea.

    1. Besides, Gabriela and these other left-leaning groups should take a good, long, HARD look at their thinning ranks and find out where they are missing the boat. Nowadays, they can barely make do with the short, dark-skinned and pug-nosed proletariats usually culled from the Aeta, Badjao and Mangyan tribes with little opportunities left in the city.

  6. Congratulation to Miss Philippines, for her being the Miss Universe. We are proud of you.

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. What is beautiful to me, may be ugly to you.

    Beauty pageants are just for entertainment. There is an agenda for the winner, to spread and do good works, around the world. Most of us humans, have foreign blood, because of intermarriage to foreigners. My wife is not a Filipina. She is from Britain. Our children are Eurasians.

    We, all grow old. “The rose that once had bloomed forever dies”. “What is a maid? “Ice and Desire”…A qoute from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet…

  7. In NAIA T2 I hear a lot of people screaming and cheering. When I looked they were watching miss world, give me a break. A bunch of brainwashed automatons cheering at miss world, says everything about the people, intelligence and future of the philippines.

  8. a chick I know from CDO, where the winner is actually from, thinks that she won !!!! How fuckin stupid can one person, or an entire nation of people, be?
    these pageants are serious business in the 3rd world as the winner is instant celebrity royalty in her country.However in the ‘real’ or 1st world, they are just another pretty face, among millions….

    1. Makes me wonder if Ms. Wurtzbach faced the problem of bullying growing up in CDO, where she could have endured growing up like a circus freak because of her mixed genes…or lusted upon by the menfolk down there who erroneously tend to equate mixed blood with liberal views toward sex and sexuality.

      Having a German-sound surname myself, I have endured being called “Nazi” and “Hitler” not to mention your fair share of “Isprakenhayt” impressions. Yeah, it’s tough, but I got to turn myself around (somewhat)

  9. and BTW, ‘HALFIES’ not being indicative of what ‘real Filipina beauty is’ a bullshit statement to begin with.To be ‘Filipino/a’ is to truly be HALF Pacific-Islander and HALF SPANISH, or a COMBO/FRACTION there-of TO BEGIN WITH.

  10. Hirap sa Pinoy, masyadong sineseryoso pati mga maliit na bagay tulad ng beauty pageant. Tanong lang, napakain ba sila niyan?

  11. What is the common denominator between the Filipina Miss Universe winners lately?
    They have white Caucasian fathers. The latest winner’s father is a German. The winner before her has an American father. I’m not sure if there would be a Hungarian girl who is a mixed -let’s say half Chinese and half Hungarian – and would be allowed to represent Hungary. Hungarians would agree that she maybe beautifull but they would also agree that she is not representing Hungarian women because she doesn’t look like them. It is not about racism, but true representation of Hungarians. Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is beautiful but has little in common with Filipinas. Her height (5′ 7″), her race is really not what I know as a Filipina. To me it’s fascinating how Filipinos have no problem with this kind of representation. What would happen if African countries would start using half white mixed black women as their representation? They would look beautiful I’m sure but would they represent the women in their native countries? Why is there a need to mix white with the native race? No wonder many in this world cries white supremacism when in realty it is none-whites who promote these beauty standards but blame whites for it.

  12. @Atila the Hun:

    Miss Wurtzbach, is a German-Filipino. She grew up in the Philippines, not in Germany. The Germans may claim her, because her father is a German.

    It is hard to find a pure ethnic race person in our time. Filipinos has a mixture of : Malay, Spanish, Chinese, etc…blood. I have yet to find a Filipino-Hunganrian ancestry of a person. I know some Filipino-Austrian, Filipino-Polish ancestry people, here in the U.S.

    1. Most Filipinos don’t have Spanish blood. You have mainly Malay and Chinese influence. Those are the same family: A mix with Chinese, Korean, Malay and other Mongolian race people are still look similar to a Filipino; they are all in the same Mongoloid race family. When Filipino mothers and white Caucasian fathers create a mix breed that will result in a look that is very different then the mixing of the Mongoloid race. That look is what many Filipino like and prefer it seems over native look.

  13. True beauty is not related to what color your hair is or what color your eyes are. True beauty is about who you are as a human being, your principles, your moral compass.

      1. My 2 sons are Am/Fils and if they win any accolades later in life of course they will be recognized as Americans with the misfortune of being born in Flip Land.

  14. I’m pretty sure American Mr. Lynch will be a very proud Daddy to his American boys when in the future they will finally get their accolades as True Blue Americans for bagging the titles of the Ms. Gay America in the future!

    1. And then spearhead the largest Gay Parade in American History – in honor of their Great Daddy, The Jerry Lynch Gay Parade of America!

  15. On unrelated note: Trump used to own this pageant from 1996-2015. Now when he stepped down, things get a little bit messy. Miss universe pageant last December 2018 featured a transgender from Spain. Out of all women of spain, they have chosen a man. I wonder how the 2nd place winner of Miss Spain felt when she got robbed by a man? Also, it proves men are better as ‘women’. So hilarious. Can’t wait for this pageant to implode.

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