Do we really need beauty contests in our Filipino community in Hong Kong?
This was the thought-provoking question posted recently by Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre on his Facebook account.
Labatt de la Torre went public with his view a few days after attending the 18th anniversary celebration of Bangar Association of Hong Kong on July 3, during which he evidently got irritated by the parade of skimpily clad beauty contestants.
In his speech, Labatt de la Torre said beauty contests should be held decently, “without the men ogling and salivating”, and without “degrading the image of Filipino women”.
He said Filipino community organizations should be discouraged from organizing such contests, and that at the very least, those who hold them should not allow contestants to splurge on costumes.
On FB, he asked more scathing questions: “Do we need to show flesh to entertain?,” he asked. “Do we want our OFWs to ruin their budgets in order to win in beauty contests? “. “Are there no alternative means of raising funds for an organization?”
“Do we need to degrade the image of Filipinas in Hong Kong?”
His FB post drew mixed reactions from community leaders, who, however, mostly agreed that it could take time before OFW organizations are weaned away from the practice
One of those who gave wholehearted support for Labatt’s call was Bishop
Gerry Vallo of Jesus the Living God church, who said it was “time to redeem Filipinas’ integrity.”
Bishop Vallo said there were a lot of ways to meet an organization’s needs than to resort to holding beauty contests to raise funds.
But one organizer said beauty contests are “part of our culture” and may not probably be stopped. Blanche Abasa also said she has seen how joining such a contest has boosted an OFW’s self-confidence. However, she is open to suggestions on alternative activities that could provide the same benefits to OFWs.
Bangar president Marites Nuval also took Labatt de la Torre’s suggestion in a positive light. While she has not given up on her plan to hold another beauty contest two years from now, she said she will make sure this one will be more wholesome, and that there there will be “no more daring production numbers”
Leo Selomenio, chair of the umbrella group, Global Alliance, to which Bangar is affiliated, is also not sold on the idea of giving up beauty pageants. She said such contests help promote Philippine culture and could uplift, instead of degrade, women, if they are made to wear wholesome outfits. like Filipiniana or festival costumes.
Standing firmly behind de la Torre’s call is The SUN, which has made it a policy for years not to give publicity to beauty contests.
“This was after we documented cases of OFWs getting mired in debt, either because they were contestants or organizers. We have also seen many such contests being used as a mere excuse for showing off flesh or flaunting gowns paid for with hard-earned money,” said The SUN editor Daisy CL Mandap.
“If the excuse is it gives the contestant good feelings, I personally feel learning new skills or helping fellow OFWs in need should be far more uplifting”. – with a report from Marites Palma