Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Cockfight Athmosphere in a Beauty Pageant?

Inah Canlapan (center) won this year's Miss Manila title over 10 other candidates at the beauty competition on Saturday (May 29, 2010) in midtown Toronto. Toni Rose Jose (left) was first runnerup and Sheryll Venzon second runnerup.

PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News

The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Sunday, May 30, 2010

~ Judges refused to be swayed by the annoying and rambunctious youthful audience at the latest edition of the Miss Manila beauty pageant in midtown Toronto, choosing a candidate who her mother says "excelled in everything in school" that she's been named student of the year. Smart and articulate, Inah Canlapan, a grade 10 student in a Catholic school in a western Toronto suburb, might as well be the best representative for the Filipino community. She's in a position to dispel the stereotype mainstream Canada has about Filipinos.
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A Rowdy Search for a Beauty & Brains Filipina
Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE)
and Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)

TORONTO - Smart, articulate, nubile -- eleven of them all gathered Saturday (May 29, 2010) in one boisterous contest of pulchritude and talent.
Undoubtedly, they were the best, the closest to being youth representatives for the Filipino Canadian community of more than 200,000 in the greater Toronto area alone.
In a city where every other Filipino woman, young and old, is mistaken for either a caregiver or a dentist, the eleven candidates were a living, breathing visual, if not a physical, antithesis of the mainstream stereotype.
Gifted, confident, proud of their heritage -- they all seemed imbued with a determination to succeed and make a difference.
The search was for a Miss Manila 2010 and her court. And, probably for lack of a venue that would reflect even a superficial Philippine setting, it was conducted at the Korean Cultural Centre in the Don Mills neighborhood.
When the ceremonies began at 7:30 p.m., three quarters of the seats of the half-occupied hall were taken by girls and boys, teenagers for sure, whose youthful exuberance, sad to say, exemplified the worst in social conduct.
Half an hour later, the cavernous chamber was filled to the last seat, a graphic testament to the magnetic power of beauty contests in general.
The adults who sat with the kids were presumably family -- the parents, sibilings, cousins, relatives. Then the organizers, their guests, their guests' guests and others who paid $25 to get in.
They never bothered how loud the youngsters shrieked and yelled at even the most inauspicious moments; their eyes glued, and their ears tuned, to what was unfolding at the stage several feet away.
The kids were having fun. Except that their fun was not funny at all. Their shrill was uncalled for, annoying and disrespectful.
They roared everytime their candidates' names were called. They cheered and jeered as each candidate approached the microphone.
Once the candidates opened their mouths to speak, the kids in the audience stomped their feet, shook their chairs, sat and stood, flashing banners and posters of their candidates.
They probably thought the loudest scream would find its way to the ears of the 13 judges who sat in front of the stage, transfixed at the parade of skimpy clad contestants.
There were more judges than candidates, yet none had the good sense to tell the young audience to stop making all kinds of noises that seemed to highlight an intolerance for the competition.
The adults, on the other hand, also had theirs safely ensconced in a shell of indifference. They were so wrapped in their little worlds, fantasizing perhaps the time royalty would descend on their family courtesy of this pageant.
It was all in the spirit of fun, as most people interviewed for this story explained. Understandably it was.
With so many young people finding ways to expend their energies, this beauty contest was a misguided target of their enthusiasm. They were venting, for sure.
The sad part was when one rowdy group tried to drown out the other in what might as well be a shouting match.
In truth, they have practically taken over the contest itself, their uproar reverberating throughout the entire selection process.
When the time of reckoning came, the group which boasted the loudest had its candidate won a minor award.
The judges redeemed themselves too.
As if to tell the rowdy groups that they were never affected by their rambunctious conduct, they voted for the one candidate who embodies the best and brightest in the new Filipino.
Inah Canlapan, a student of the year awardee for excelling in everything in her school, is the news Miss Manila 2010. Toni Rose Jose is first runnerup and Sheryll Venzon, second runnerup.
(This Currents & Breaking News may be posted online, broadcast or reprinted, on condition that the author and the publication be properly credited. By Romeo P. Marquez, Editor, Philippine Village Voice, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Volume 4, Issue no.9, May 30, 2010).

Inah Canlapan (center) won this year's Miss Manila title over 10 other candidates at the beauty competition on Saturday (May 29, 2010) in midtown Toronto. Toni Rose Jose (left) was first runnerup and Sheryll Venzon second runnerup.

PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News

A Cockfight of a Beauty Pageant
Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE)
and Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)

TORONTO -- A matter of taste, or lack of it? Timidity versus rowdyism?
Two women, one advocating dignity and restraint; the other, encouraging effusive, if not impertinent, conduct among the youth.
Diiferences in age and perception, an immersion in Western culture, adherence to traditional Filipino values, upbringing -- they all figure in the heated discussion that surfaced this week between two well-known media figures in Toronto.
The impassioned exchanges of emails were triggered by my coverage of the Miss Manila beauty contest held on Saturday (May 29, 2010). I was there on the invitation of Tess Cusipag, managing editor of Balita newspaper, and chair of the pageant committee.
Ms. Cusipag had reacted to my story, explaining why the judges (13 in all) outnumbered the contestants (11, originally 15, she said), and why, despite the unrestrained behaviour of the young audience, the organizers are satisfied with the whole show.
I reported the event as it unfolded. (Please click the link to read the full story at: I took pictures and did some interviews. (Videographer Imelda O. Suzara covered the story too and provides fresh video at this link: Miss Manila 2010 in Toronto).
"It is always like a cockfight, noisy but for us organizers, we are happy that they enjoy it," she said in an email hours after my story hit online outlets in Canada, the United States and the Philippines. "They paid $25 to watch. For students that is a lot of money so we just let them have a good time."
The mention of the word "cockfight" was too much of an aggravation, however, for Marlou Tiro, a print and broadcast journalist with Philippine Reporter and ABS-CBN's Balitang America, whose teenaged daughter was among the eleven candidates.
After all, a cockfight evokes images of an uproarious event, gambling and uncontrolled shouting. Whereas a beauty pageant conjures a quiet pompousness about it, regal and subdued.
"I felt humiliated," she said, loudly complaining about the way the male emcee roused the audience with what she calls "fishmarket way" to enjoin them to participate.
"He sounded as if he was selling candidates like they were fish," Ms. Tiro explained. To her, it reduced the candidates to cheap wannabes while exploiting them for the financial benefit of the organizers.
Ms. Tiro knew whereof she speaks, having been a candidate herself for the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant in Manila some years back.
That experience has given her deep background to make comparisons, particularly in the treatment of candidates by officials of the sponsoring organization.
She wrote Ms. Cusipag: "Having been a beauty title holder once, I feel disappointed that your perception of a beauty pageant is a form of a 'cockfight' entertainment. And you literally produce a 'cockfight' competition.
She continued: "I'm sorry to say, once again, I am disappointed and I will never be proud that I have been a part of it."
Ms. Tiro said she knew she would be accused of sour-graping because her daughter lost but it was important for her to voice out her concerns as a parent raising children to behave and be respectful.
"Honestly," she told Ms. Cusipag, "I was shocked by your response. I could not imagine that you tolerate such a rowdy behavior to the extent of saying that you 'encourage them' to cheer like that. As adults, we should teach our children how to treat women with respect."
My story had detailed how the youth in the audience practically took control of the proceedings at the Korean Cultural Centre in the Don Mills neighborhood in midtown Toronto. At least two big groups competed in the shrieking ang yelling which had drowned out candidates whenever they spoke.
"Pageants are always noisy," Ms. Cusipag clarified in an email to this reporter.
"These (the boisterous supporters) are classmates and friends of the candidates and we encourage them. That is their way of enjoying themselves and how they support their candidates. We always advise candidates to invite more people to cheer for them," she explained.
In another email to Ms. Tiro that she shared with this reporter, Ms. Cusipag stated: "Like I said, the kids have their way of having fun, it may not be acceptable to us adults and we can always interpret it differently as we come from a traditional background."
The discussion could have ended on that note except that Ms. Cusipag raised other issues, namely, immersion in Canadian culture which essentially means "Canadian experience" and views about sex.
"Sorry you feel that way, you are still in the 18th century," she remarked to Ms. Tiro, her words oozing with sarcasm.
"Obviously you have not adjusted yourself in the Canadian way," she continued. "I can also understand that you came from UAE which was more conservative so this rowdy behaviour that you perceived in this pageant becomes unacceptable."
Ms. Tiro personally felt uncomfortable, and complained about it, when one of the candidates was asked about sex. The young lady was clearly piqued but she managed to muster enough courage to blurt out an answer. In the meantime, the audience exploded in a combination of hooting, clapping, yelling and whistling.
Ms. Cusipag responded to Ms. Tiro's complaint. She said: "About the sex questions. These kids are so familiar with it now. Just notice that the government is trying to integrate sex education in the elementary level of the schooling here. What is that telling you? These kids were born here, their rowdy behaviour is their way of making fun as long as they are not hurting and not doing it in a demeaning way."

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