Mutya ng Davao: More than just a beauty contest

Every March, the city celebrates its birth; and each time, a new Mutya is chosen – one who embodies independence, intelligence, strength, and power – the true qualities of a Dabawenya.

Former Davao City Mayor Elias B. Lopez, the founder of the Mutya ng Dabaw pageant, said in 1991 that the concept of Mutya is far from being a beauty contest, but rather a “search for the symbol of our hopes and aspirations as Dabawenyos, represented by the beauty and character of our ideal woman.”

“The focus is not just about the woman, but more on what the woman represents,” Lopez had said.

The first official Mutya ng Davao was crowned in 1969. She was Rachel Arkoncell.

Arckoncell was succeeded by equally deserving Mutyas: Elsa Roldan (1970), Jeanette Ledesma Lon (1971), Maureen Elizabeth Hilario (1972), Lyn Yuviengco Aguirre (1973), Clavel Albay (1974), Jocelyn Joyce (1975), Lorna Mape (1976), Marissa Salvador Abella (1977), Maria Edna Go (1978), Anabelle Cervantes (1979), Abegail Garcia (1981), Felinda Sanchez (1982), Susan Co Ong (1983), Sharmene Escamilla (1985), Conchitina Tesoro (1986), Trezita Acosta (1987), Trizza Ambet Gapultos (1987) and Veronica Tolentino (1989).

In 1990, Erlinda Mejia, who later on became a popular TV anchor in Davao, was crowned Mutya. She then ventured into indie film-making, writing the screenplay of the short film “Camera” for the 2009 Mindanao Film Festival. She joined Mutya ng Pilipinas in 1996 and was crowned Mutya ng Pilipinas Intercontinental, finishing first runner-up.

At the height of the Gulf crisis in 1991, the city did not crown a Mutya for two reasons: having a costly search would not be fitting at times of economic crisis, and; the search was scrutinized for allegedly corrupting and exploiting women.

In 1992, Sharon Limbaga won the crown, followed by Mary Jean Biol (1993), Ma. Lualhati Malata (1994), Jovelyn Pongase (1995), Sharon Escarella (1996), Llwelyn Muriel Austria (1997), Carol Kent Ramos (1998), Joan Magtibay (1999) and Leah May Luna (2000).

The search for the Mutya ng Davao continued uninterrupted over the years.

More Mutya were crowned, such as Paula Ann Selgas (2001), Mary Carmel Osmena (2002), Joan Mae Soco (2003), Aieelen Cainglet (2004), Jovine Narajos (2005), Johanne Bernice Guirgen (2006), Clarice Escala (2007), Mary Jean Lastimosa (2008), Resci Angeli Rizada (2009) and Janelle Tee (2010).

Completing the list of queens were Irene Lascuňa (2011), Marianne Mae Te (2012), Fila Guia Hidalgo (2013), Franchesca Enriquez (2014), Kris Abegail Guanzon (2015), Allyza Molly Teodoro (2016) and Reina Kobayashi (2017).

Today, the search for Mutya ng Davao remains to be a unique beauty contest, mainly because of the absence of swimsuit portion in accordance with the Women Development Code of Davao City – which protects women from being a sexual commodity or for manipulation and utilization for one’s sexual desire. CIO