Kali Navea-Huff, beauty queen mentor, on joining Miss Universe PH 2023: ‘Every woman should have a space to feel empowered’

Kali Navea-Huff, beauty queen mentor, also aims for the Miss Universe PH crown

/ 07:36 PM February 27, 2023
Miss Universe Philippines Pasig 2023 Kali Navea-Huff. Image: Rap Yu via Instagram/@kalihuff

Miss Universe Philippines Pasig 2023 Kali Navea-Huff. Image: Rap Yu via Instagram/@kalihuff

Kali Navea-Huff believes that being a former Q&A mentor for pageant camp Aces and Queens does not make her chances of winning the Miss Universe Philippines 2023 crown any bigger, but she intends to make this work in her favor.

In a YouTube vlog of MUPh 2021 semi-finalist Ayn Bernos on Saturday, Feb. 25, Huff, who will be representing Pasig City, said that despite her vast experience in mentoring other beauty queens, she still feels the pressure of acing the much-dreaded question-and-answer portion of the pageant.

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Huff said that the Q&A is a matter of a contestant’s ability to turn her communication skills into something that resonates with the judges and pageant fans.

“The other girls shining in Q&A does not dim mine because I have my experience, they have my experience. I find it so funny when people say, ‘Oh, you’re going to do amazing in Q&A.’ There’s still pressure, of course. I hope I do well,” she began.

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“But it doesn’t necessarily mean that if I have that experience, I would be the best. Because my experience is so different that it might resonate with the [some] judges but it might not resonate with others. There are many beautiful girls and it’s just about resonating with the people,” she explained.

Huff shared that one of the most notable beauty queens that she worked with was Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo.

‘Imperfect queens’

Also during the interview, Huff said that she wanted to represent “imperfect queens” and women who want to feel empowered in their respective spaces, and who can empower people to embrace their failures.

As someone who has worked in pageantry behind-the-scenes, the candidate said she wanted to be a role model, not of perfection, but of acceptance of the “imperfect.”

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A post shared by Kali Navea-Huff (@kalihuff)

“I’ve been in pageantry for three years so I’ve seen how people put the queens on a pedestal where they expect, and actually demand perfection from them at times,” she began. “And we love that. We love seeing the passion from fans. But it [can also be] dehumanizing for them. It’s failing to recognize that you can’t be perfect and represent Filipinos because we’re not perfect. Our country is not perfect. We’re still learning and growing, and I hope to be that imperfect queen.”

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Huff also admitted that joining MUPh was a decision that she realized “through time,” where she noted that she still wants to mentor aspiring queens even if she gets crowned.

“It was a discerning moment and it’s something that I’ve realized through time. I loved mentoring, not just Q&A. But letting them realize the power of their voice and know that they’re strong enough to use it and I feel so fulfilled doing that. And it’s something that I want to continue doing even if I win Miss Universe Philippines,” she said.

“I want to continue mentoring and using that platform not just for hundreds of girls, but millions of girls. And it wasn’t a specific moment. It was me realizing each and everyday that I have the capacity to do this,” she further said.

Huff added that witnessing the journeys of Miss Universe Philippines 2022 Celeste Cortesi and fellow candidate Pauline Amelinckx solidified her decision to join the national pageant.

A law student and an athlete in college, Huff advocates for awareness on gender-based violence.

This advocacy is what she wanted to bring the public’s attention to, even as she charms them with her knowledge in pageantry.

Despite this, Huff is humble enough to say that she is still learning the ropes insofar as fashion styling, pasarela or pageant walk, and maintaining a fitness routine is concerned.

“I’ve been empowered, I hope to be empowering. I realized that failure resonates with people the most, but I also want people to know that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay for people to be just surviving and healing, and that’s really what I want to share in my journey to all of you,” she said.

Cortesi, the reigning titleholder, will crown her successor at the MUPh 2023 coronation night, although the exact date and venue are yet to be announced. EDV

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