Missed Universe? Filipinos most supportive fans, also most toxic | Inquirer Opinion

Missed Universe? Filipinos most supportive fans, also most toxic

/ 05:01 AM January 19, 2023

On Jan. 15, 2023, the stars of the universe aligned for its new queen, R’Bonney Gabriel, a half-Filipina, half-American, hailing from Texas, USA. Pageant fans from the Philippines certainly felt proud that Filipino blood runs in the veins of the beauty queen. At the same time, the country was in tears when Celeste Cortesi failed to make it to the top 16, breaking hearts, despite her seemingly strong chance to take home the much-coveted crown.

As I watched the hosts announce the top 16 one by one via Facebook live, I noticed the comment section being bombarded by pageant fans—Filipino fans, as they expressed their frustrations when each announcement didn’t mention Ms. Philippines. Though not really a fan of beauty pageants, I certainly felt the tension, too, as I waited for Celeste to be called. Alas, it wasn’t ours this year, and like Ms. Catriona Gray mentioned, we still have next year.

Since our candidate didn’t make it and not knowing that Miss USA is half-Filipina, I discontinued watching. But in all honesty, I stopped viewing when I noticed that the comment section was being stacked with angry outbursts from fellow Filipinos uttering their displeasure at the results, saying that Celeste should have made it to the next round and that the results were “luto” (predetermined). Others expressed their discontentment with our candidate’s performance in the preliminaries, exclaiming that she lacked energy during the preliminaries, that the Darna outfit she wore was not our national costume, and that she should have focused more on her advocacy rather than her looks. Personally, I found her rather queenly, graceful, and confident during the preliminaries.

But then, Filipinos can be the most supportive fans in the world, and the most toxic, too. Well, especially now that social media has become our norm, Filipinos are only a click away from exclaiming their thoughts, without a second thought. We become the most supportive when fellow Filipinos make it to the international scene, yet at the same time, we become the most toxic, sharpening our red claws as we drag other people down.

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I think it’s brave when Celeste tried for the crown despite the pressures of the standards and achievements set by her predecessors. I’m proud of how she put herself right there on our screen, unprotected against potential bashers and naysayers. Bashers “protected” behind their screens unhesitatingly post their negative comments against others without knowing how a single word can affect their subject of ridicule. I would like to ask them: How will you feel if other people bash the way you look right now? The way you dress? The way you carry yourself? Can you do it yourself, those excellent suggestions of yours on how to be the next Miss Universe and win the fifth crown for us? Are you perfect? Don’t we all feel miserable when other people drag us down, as well? We might think that celebrities will not be affected by a mere comment coming from us, but remember that many of them gave up their lives due to comments left by netizens. Like Queen R’Bonney said, we all have something special, and when we plant those seeds to other people in our lives, we transform them and we use that as vehicles for change. May we always discard our bad seeds and to only plant seeds of kindness to others.

To our Queen Celeste, the stars may not have given you the crown that night, but please continue shining. The universe has a lot in store for you. Continue your advocacy in improving the lives of others. Please know that the Miss Universe pageant is not the only platform to make a difference, for you do not need a shiny new crown to have the voice to invoke change. If we can live every day inspiring others for the better, whether big or small, that is Miss Universe there.

Jeslen B. Tesoro,published author

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