Monday, February 18, 2008

�Mutya ng Pilipinas� Beauty Awes Malaysians

MANILA, Philippines - A funny thing happened to 2007 Mutya ng Pilipinas Anna Marie Morelos when she went to Malaysia last December to compete in the first Miss Tourism Metropolitan pageant.

The 18-year-old nursing student was surprised to be greeted by a crowd taking photos of her as if she was a celebrity.

Apparently, they had mistaken Morelos for Malaysian superstar Pasha Shandra, who was also arriving on the same day.

�At first I didn�t understand [why] they also wanted to have their pictures taken with me. Still, I gamely posed with them,� Morelos told Inquirer Entertainment.

�I only realized they were waiting for another person when they showed me her photograph,� Morelos said. �Kamukha ko nga siya!�

No superstar

She had to explain to the people that she was not Shandra.

A few hours after that amusing airport scene, Morelos arrived at the hotel and was assigned a room with fellow contestants from Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

The pageant calendar spanned three weeks. Since coronation night was on Dec. 31, Morelos had to spend her first Christmas away from her family and where the holiday season is not traditionally celebrated.
But this was not the only sacrifice she had to make.

Before flying to Kuala Lumpur, Morelos crammed her hospital training hours so that she�ll be ready if she needs to extend her stay overseas.

All these paid off when the 5�7� Filipina beauty landed in the Top 5, ending the Philippine�s 2007 pageant season with a bang. Her victory likewise redeemed the country from dismal results in the previous four major international pageants.

�When my name was called in the Top 10, I told myself, �okey na to�,� Morelos recalled. �During intermission, I texted Mama and told her I made it to the semifinals.�

Winning answer

She also related to Inquirer Entertainment that she was not too excited when her name was called. �I was happy, but it felt different knowing that your family is not there to see you being called on stage,� she explained.

In the interview segment, a judge asked Morelos where she would prefer to go on a holiday trip. Replying that she�d like to explore fascinating sights in Southeast Asia, Morelos expounded that the experience would in turn help her promote the Philippines as one of the world�s most exciting tourist destinations.

The answer helped her clinch the fourth runner-up slot, which she didn�t expect.

Sorina Neacsu of Romania won the title.

�I had no idea who would win,� Morelos confessed. �I thought every girl had an edge and a distinct beauty. So I thought, �mapapansin pa kaya ako?�.� She also did not receive any �subsidiary awards� in the preliminaries.
However, she noted how appreciative the Malaysians were of her own qualities. �They really admire Filipinos. They think we�re smart and intelligent. It made me proud � And the Filipino bellmen in the hotel kept shouting, �Go Philippines!� whenever they saw me. So that boosted my confidence and self-esteem,� Morelos said.

The whole experience has also given her the impetus to consider joining other competitions in the future.
But that would have to wait. She wants to finish her studies as an incoming senior nursing major at Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela City.

What a gorgeous nurse she�d make.

Source: Armin Adina, PDI

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