She grew up believing she wasn’t beautiful, being called “tikbalang” (Filipino centaur) and “plywood.” But Janicel Lubina is now proudly wearing a crown and is set to represent the country in an international beauty pageant later this year.
“When I was in elementary, I was always bullied for being tall and lanky. My classmates called me ‘tikbalang.’ I was flat-chested when I was in high school, so I was branded ‘plywood’ by my school mates,” Janicel shared with Inquirer after her proclamation as 2013 Miss Bikini Philippines recently.
“I resented being tall and dark-skinned, I felt I wasn’t beautiful,” the 18-year-old Palawan native confessed. “I grew up in a community where they considered fair-skinned ladies beautiful, like goddesses!”
But her outlook changed when Venus Raj was proclaimed fourth runner-up in the 2010 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas.
“Maganda rin pala ang maitim, maganda rin pala ako (Being brown-skinned, like I am, is beautiful after all),” she recalled telling herself.
She was also inspired by Venus’ life story who, like her, was raised in a farm and grew up in poverty.
This newfound confidence led to her participation in the 2012 Mutya ng Palawan pageant, which she won, and later the Miss Scuba Philippines, which brought her to Bali, Indonesia, for the Miss Scuba International pageant where she made it to the Top 5.
Setting foot in Manila also reinforced her appreciation for her appearance, getting compliments for her height and dark complexion.
The towering beauty—she’s 5 feet and 8 1/2 inches tall—plans to take up Secondary Education major in English “to hone my communication skills.”
She also hopes to follow in the footsteps of her idol Venus and represent the country in the Miss Universe pageant someday.
For now, Janicel is busy preparing for the Miss Bikini International pageant in China this November.
The Miss Bikini Philippines coronation night will be aired Friday night at 10:30 on Studio 23.