Beauty queens mull significance of #MeToo, female empowerment on Women’s Month | Inquirer Entertainment

Beauty queens mull significance of #MeToo, female empowerment on Women’s Month

/ 12:03 AM March 17, 2020

Bb. Pilipinas queens (fromleft) Emma Mary Tiglao, Gazini Ganados, Aya Abesamis, Bea Patricia Magtanong, Resham Saeed and Leren Mae Bautista show the “equality” hand sign at the #EachForEqual women’s empowerment program. —ARMIN P. ADINA

In what is arguably the biggest victory for the women’s movement this year, Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein was meted a 23-year jail sentence for sexual assault and rape, showing the world how mighty the #MeToo campaign has become.

With the verdict handed down during International Women’s Month, it is but a fitting tribute to the struggle for women’s protection against sexual abuses and misogyny.


For the reigning Binibining Pilipinas queens, the #MeToo movement that sprung from the entertainment industry in the United States is a testament to how far the women’s struggle has come since the staging of the first Working Women’s Month in 1911.


“I also support the #MeToo movement because it gives women a certain voice and the power to protect ourselves,” Bb. Pilipinas Grand International Aya Abesamis told the Inquirer at the sidelines of the “#EachForEqual” women’s empowerment program at the activity center of Gateway Mall at Araneta City in Quezon City on March 8, Women’s Day.

All six reigning Bb. Pilipinas winners spoke at the event, and shared stories of empowerment they themselves experienced, and the women around them who have inspired them to become strong. The event was attended by mallgoers, composed mostly of women.

Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados said: “The #MeToo movement has made a strong impact on women’s struggles. Women have become more vocal, just like [Bb. Pilipinas Supranational Resham Saeed].”

Resham, who broke barriers in the Islamic community by being the first Muslim woman to represent the Philippines in the Miss Supranational pageant, acknowledged how far the women’s movement has come. But she said, “I still think we have a long way to go, especially here in the Philippines.”

She added: “We need to work together as women to really make our mark. I think there’s still so much more to accomplish. I can’t wait for all of us to do that together.”

Lawyer Bea Patricia Magtanong, who passed the bar exams weeks before she took home the Bb. Pilipinas International title in June last year, noted how her generation has become “a lot more conscious, a lot more tolerant, a lot more supportive of women’s rights.”


Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental Emma Mary Tiglao echoed her queen sisters’ sentiments, saying, “This generation is made up of very empowered women, who inspire people for their beliefs.”

Still, there are sectors in the women’s movement who look at pageants as a venue for female commodification. But the Bb. Pilipinas queens said pageants play a significant role in advancing the causes that the movement wants to push forward.

“Women can empower women. And I think pageants, having participants who come from different cultures, show us that we can do anything. We have the potential to be who we are, and we can stand up for ourselves,” Aya said.

Emma echoed American civil rights activist Maya Angelou’s famous quote, “Every time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for every woman.” She said her experience in the Miss Intercontinental stage with 79 other international delegates proved this to be true.

But Resham wants people to look beyond the queens’ crowns.

“The crown is nothing but the woman behind it. And we are the spine that holds the inspiration, pushes the agenda forward. If you don’t have a strong heart, and the drive to bring home your advocacy that represents something greater than yourself, then even the biggest stage could fail you,” she explained.

For Patricia, pageantry’s most important role is giving young girls role models to look up to.

“We serve as an inspiration for young girls. They see us looking confident and empowered, and that empowers them, as well. They dare to dream, they feel better about themselves, they see us succeeding. And it drives them to believe that they can do it, too,” she shared.

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The reigning queens, except Gazini, will relinquish their titles at the 2020 Bb. Pilipinas coronation ceremonies at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on May 31. INQ

TAGS: Bb. Pilipinas

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