Cebu beauties vie for a crown

CEBU - The City of Cebu's Tourism Commission appraised dozens of beautiful girls, all potential candidates to vie for the crown of Miss Cebu 2014. It is a truly beauty and brains tilt, as the search does not involve a swimsuit competition.

The pageant serves to showcase Cebu talents, tourist attractions and services, investment opportunities, heritage and culture. It has been set for Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m., at the grand ballroom of the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel.

Twelve finalists have been chosen and constitute a bevy of lovelies, presented during a special event held at the ballroom of the Cebu City Marriott Hotel. Present was Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, along with Phineas Alburo, formerly with the Department of Tourism, and now head of the Cebu City Tourism Commission (CCTC).

Jaja Chiongbian Rama, CCTC commissioner, is chair of the Miss Cebu 2014 project. She gave the rationale of the contest. Words of welcome came from Charlene Go in behalf of the Marriott Hotel, of which she is the public relations manager.

They reminded us that the forthcoming pageant will mark the 30th anniversary of the beauty tilt. "Wear your pearls," said Nelia Neri, who was part of the CCTC way back in 1984, and spearheaded the first contest.

"It was at the Magellan Hotel," she recalled, adding that it moved the next year to the Cebu Plaza Hotel. Presently, the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel provides a much larger venue to accommodate an overflowing crowd of attendees.

Program emcees at the presentation were Miss Cebu 2013 Namrata Neesha Murjani who is of Indian descent, and Rachel Chloe Palang, first runner-up in 2012. The dozen stunning (and tall) beauties had previously drawn numbers which will identify them until pageant day.

Meet them: Rhodora Marie Alayon, Crystal Star Aberasturi, Hannah Gore, Alyn Ilya Ingking, Margret Manolop, Kirstie Barbas, Marilis Morales, Diane Muego, Grace Anne Yap, Eva Patalinjug, Natasha Manuel and Pearl Hortelano.

Questions and opinions

The girls gave their names, and reasons for joining the contest. They also said something about themselves, their studies and/or professions, their families, and their general outlook in life.

Questions and opinions were tossed for each one to comment or express views on, with the result that it was quite an animated exchange among them and with members of the press present. Seems like the pageant will be more than just a display of feminine pulchritude.

Jaja Rama has a ready assistant in vice chair Philip Rodriguez, one of Cebu's top couturiers, and a member of CCTC. He is in charge of the pageant's production committee, with special concern for sponsors and prizes.

For one thing, the pageant will be choreographed by Junjet Primor, an ace in these matters, and an engineer by profession. Another thing is the list of designers for the concluding evening gown sequence.

They are: Cary Santiago, Albert Arriba, Oj Hofer, Marichu Tan, Jun Escario, Harley Ruedas, Philip Tampus, Wendell Quisido, Arcy Gayatin, Ditas Rodriguez, Ren Manabat and Dino Lloren.

The more informal clothes during the earlier sequences will be by Rei Escario, Mique Yapching, Hadji, Rey Villegas, Peewee Senining, Brian Aloquin, Barbie Alvez, Yvonne Quisumbing, Protacio Empaces and Edwin Ao.

Much involved is the Hon. James Cuenco, Cebu City Councilor and in charge of the city's committee on Tourism, Local and International Relations, Arts and Culture.

Just as active, if not more, are the CCTC commissioners like Petite Garcia and Tetta Ba-ad, in charge of the girls' training seminars and personality development; Joan Young Tiu, in charge of tickets; Joseph Davidson Gaisano, Enrilen Benedicto, Marissa Fernan, Alice Queblatin and Hans Hauri, general manager of the Marco Polo Hotel and until recently president of the Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu.

Doing their share, and present on this occasion as well as other activities of the coming weeks, are CCTC executive director Cinbeth Orellano, and Tourism Operations officer Anna Jordana Quisumbing.

They are efficiently assisted by Rogelio Alayre, Martina Cubero, Niño Richie Matilos, Armando Valiente and Joel Libor.

In the coming weeks, the Magnificent 12 will be seen in various events like Bonifacio Day, the birth anniversary of Serging Osmeña on Dec. 4, the launch of Pasko sa Sugbu, and the observance of National Hero Jose Rizal's martyrdom on Dec. 30.

These events are coordinated by the Cebu City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission (CHAC), of which the chair is Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella. CHAC and CCTC are in the same heritage building that houses the city's museum and library.

Thus, in their own way, the staff of CHAC is also involved in the Miss Cebu 2014 project. They include Sharon Jakosalem, Trifon Sode, Orlando Albutra, Fatma Pangarunggan, Nelia Buhawe, Leo Nolasco, Jeff Legaspi and Joenivil Puerto.