Two outstanding surprises surfaced during yesterday’s announcement of the 29 candidates for Mutya ng Dabaw 2019, apart from the aspirants’ initial explanation of their advocacy for women empowerment. One candidate admitted she was a victim of domestic violence, while the other confessed she was a proud member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.
Originally allotted for 30 slots, Jhanneal Bianca Ramirez, a medical student, backed out the day before the revelation of the official candidates for the pageant.
According to Dan Salvaña Jr., Mutya ng Dabaw 2018 event director, Ramirez had to back out after the dean of her school did not allow her to join the competition.
Entering the final list of 29 are We’am Ahmed, Irha Mel Alfeche, Regine Anillo, Danielle Abigail Apostol, Lovely Mae Aquino, Trixie Marie Cabiles, Candy Ruth Cameros, Louise Ann Canalija, Vanessa Coustley, Julia Nicole Culaste, Christine Angelica Dacera, Darlene Paula Dichoso, Irish Ebuen, Dulce Amor Lumictin, Shann Khelsie Madanlo, Athena Therese Melocoton, Eula Cristine Napuli, Ybonne Ortega, Mary Coleen Pangan, Ashly May Potolin, Rhesam Mae Quindoy, Reynalie Jane Remulta, Jan Marine Rendon, Apryl Nicole Roque, Charmaine Bless Shotwell, Clydel June Tabacolde, Lady Lou Tabudlong, Alea Tibayan and Jeriza Uy.
During the question and portion, Roque was teary-eyed when asked about the existing city ordinance that is very important for her. She answered the city’s existing Women’s Development Code.
She revealed during the interview that she had a physical trauma from her two ex-boyfriends, and her parents did know about it.
Roque, a flight attendant, said that the women’s ordinance should further be implemented, as many women continue to suffer maltreatment, both verbal and physical abuse in the city.
“We should be aware take good care of ourselves. We should not allow men to look down upon us. We should speak out for ourselves whenever we get to experience maltreatment,” she said.
Canalija, came out publicly as a lesbian, after saying that the Anti-Discrimination Act for LGBT should be one of the ordinances that the city should pass.
She was part top 15 during the 2015 pageant, however, she was not yet vocal about her sexuality at the time.
Canalija, who was also Mutya ng Toril 2018 Social Media Choice Awardee, admitted that she had hesitations of joining the pageant. She feared that she would be judged and criticized once the public will discover her gender preference.
She now believes that her coming out will not be a hindrance of winning the title.
“I believe that your sexual preferences should not be the basis in joining the Mutya (Ng Davao). The Mutya’s intention is to serve the city, by being the ambassador of the city,” Canalija said. Salvaña also agreed, also saying that a lesbian is not a violation of the guidelines.
“I think it’s OK, because if you read the guidelines, she if born female,” he said.
Salvaña said that he had been hearing from the previous Mutya pageants, that there are also candidates who also come out. However, he said that Canalija is notably the first candidate to speak out during the elimination round.
He said that as long as the candidates would be able to fulfill her roles and responsibilities, being a lesbian will not be a problem.
The selection of the top 15 will be on February 20, Wednesday, at the Abreeza Mall, while the coronation will be on March 2, Saturday, at the Rizal Memorial College Gazz Arena.