…the international flavor of this year’s Miss Silliman Beauty Pageant.
There are two Persians -Sanaz and Sarah - have decided to break traditions in celebration of womanhood.
Fatemeh Ahmadi Zeleti, fondly called Sanaz, is enjoying the freedom with the Philippines’ love for beauty pageants, so0mething that is never allowed in her home country Iran. Her courage to join the pageant - even without much regard for the stereotypical model-figure - has actually drawn more attention. But mind you, many people are actually delighted at her willingness to participate in this Silliman tradition for the fun of it. Besides, Sanaz is like a classic revival of the Baroque period’s standard of beauty: a lovely voluptuous subject in a painting by Rubens. I salute the College of Information Technology and Computer Science for giving Sanaz all the support anyone would need in her quest to prove her belief to all and sundry that when it comes to beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. An that God in his infinite glory makes sure there is justice for all! And during the night of talents, Sanaz has proven that she will have her own share of glory for everyone loved her graceful movements in belly dancing.
The other Persian is Sarah Aghabararian who is like a sunshine with her generous smile. Not a few were surprised when the College of Engineering decided to be represented by this charming Barbie doll from Tehran, not the beauty queen from Tanjay who was many people’s bet. Two of the pre-pageant judges have expressed that it is possible that this very talented lady who was among the Top 3 Best Speakers would be the first Miss Engineering who will win the Miss Silliman crown. She won the hearts of the people when she serenaded them with a Tagalog love song and they applauded her for her honest and smart answers during the open forum.
College of Arts and Sciences made sure they would also have a strong presence in this pageant by sending this very talented beauty with German lineage, Scarlett Hartman. A composer of love songs and a visual artist who loves cartooning, Scarlett is actually majoring in Social Work. I know. Not your typical source of candidates for beauty candidates for beauty pageants. In fact, some professors in her College were taken by when they learned that Scarlett, like other students in her course who are expected to be advocates of women’s rights, was joining a beauty pageant. The professors have time and time again actually expressed their vehement opposition to the holding of beauty pageants, which they say is a form of exploitation. But Scarlett successfully defended her decision to join during the open forum and was even chosen as among the best speakers.
The United States of America, the culprit behind the Filipinos’ penchant for beauty pageants, is represented with the presence of the California-born beauty Matilde Irene Hescock, this year’s best bet of the School of Communication. Matti is part of this lean group of Masscom students whom many consider as a powerhouse of beauty titlists. If you recall, the Ms. MassCom since 2001 have consistently been the 1st runner-up glory in the Miss Silliman pageant. You won’t miss Matti’s 5’8” figure. She’s the one with the fashion model beauty and figure who is expected to finally break Masscom’s “almost there” spot.
The next two beauties are Philippine-born but you could mistake them for being Miss Japan and Miss Mexico on the strength of their foreign looks, and what they refer to in Tagalog , ang dating.
Chinky-eyed beauty Joyce Zerda of the College of Performing Arts, who has become a favorite host of campus events since that night of outstanding performance as emcee of the Valentine Song Writing Contest (and she did it again when she got the Best Speaker award and many want this cello player to win the crown), is always asked about her nationality. After all, when walking around campus, Joyce blends well with the Koreans and much more, with her Japanese friends. Indeed an oriental princess!
Honey Grace Lllenos of the High School Department, stands true to her Spanish-sounding family name; she projects the aura of a Latin American beauty contestant. Although, she is the youngest, Honey looks the most comfortable on stage. This teen, after all, must have developed stage presence and confidence as a member of the SUHS Debating Team.
International beauty pageants are never complete without the “ Miss Philippines.” In this year’s Miss Silliman, the Filipina beauty radiates in Wanda Omengan, representing the College of Business Administration. If you’re wondering why this candidate who is from Sagada in Mountain Province speaks with a nice American twang, know that Wanda grew up in a tight community with so much influence from American missionaries. But believe me, Wanda who is a pure Igorota is every inch a Filipina.
People are also talking about their bet from the new Medical School. A very smart lady from Stockton, Marikit Bituin Baquiran, could have been it. This Fil-Am beauty is a consistent honor student even when she was president of the Students from Around the World, the organization of foreign students.
Like part of the legacy from the Big Apple, the Miss Silliman Beauty Pageant was established in this first American school in the Philippines in 1946 by the American mentors, older than the two major international pageant, Miss World which was founded in 1951 in the United Kingdom and the Miss Universe founded by California clothing company Pacific Mills as an avenue to promote their Catalina swimwear in 1952.
It is possible that the Miss America, the world’s oldest still-running beauty pageant that started in 1921 as a beach affair, had actually inspired our very own campus-by-the-sea glory.
Talks about the possible dissolution of the Miss Silliman beauty pageant will never die, and the oppositors will always argue the irony of celebrating the beauty of the woman’s physique, and sense of dignity of the Christian academia.