Beauty isn’t everything

IT’S NOT always glitz and glamor for beauty queens. On April 25, the 40 candidates of the Binibining Pilipinas (Bb. Pilipinas) pageant spent a day at the carnival (that is, Araneta City’s Fiesta Carnival in Quezon City) with children helped by non-government organization Childhope Philippines Foundation, Inc.

The Childhope Foundation is dedicated to helping “children in street situations” (what we used to call street children). Throughout the morning, the candidates played with the children in the theme park’s attractions then shared lunch with the children. The lunch came from Pizza Hut, franchised by the Araneta family through PPI Holdings, Inc. The Bb. Pilipinas pageant, which sends its winners as candidates to the Miss International and Miss Globe pageants, is also the Araneta family’s, through Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI), a non-stock and non-profit organization. BPCI was founded by Stella Marquez Araneta, the world’s first Miss International, and the wife of Araneta Group chair Jorge Araneta.

“Charities” in BPCI’s name isn’t a placeholder. “The charity is the heart of the pageant,” Diane Romero, Executive Director of the J. Amado Araneta Foundation and Interim Executive Director of BPCI told BusinessWorld. “Whatever we raise during the pageant, napupunta iyan doon sa charities (it goes to the charities).”

“BPCI is focusing its efforts on children’s welfare through strategic partnerships and volunteer work. Advocating for children has always been the thrust of the organization, so expect our Binibinis to be involved in more charitable works and advocacy campaigns,” she said in a statement. Their children’s four-point welfare thrust includes education, health, resilience, and protection. “We partner with on-the-ground NGOs; kung sino iyong may reach sa mga batang ito (which can reach these children) directly,” she said.

It turns out a beauty queen doesn’t have to be just pretty: for Bb. Pilipinas, it looks like she has to be kind as well. Ms. Romero said that the “girls” have expressed interest in volunteering. Even if the focus for this year is on children’s welfare, the candidates are encouraged to fuse their own advocacies with it. “We open doors for the girls to also use their platforms as ambassadors,” said Ms. Romero. “From the start, our founder, Mrs. Araneta, (for her) it’s a privilege to have a platform and that’s a responsibility.

“That’s the reason why we have the pageant: to help.” — Joseph L. Garcia