Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ilocos Norte unites for gender equality thru first Miss Gay pageant

Miss Ilocoslovakla 2016.From left: Handy Lao, Gov. Marcos, comedian Raiven Diva, Miss Ilocoslovakla 2016 Romel Pascual of Laoag City, and RB Ablan. (Reu A. Flores)





John Michael Mugas
PGIN-CMO

Laoag City—In a stunning showcase of the beauty and talent of the Ilocano gay community, the first gay-themed pageant dubbed as Miss Ilocoslovakla 2016 organized by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte gathered hundreds of Ilocanos on February 14 in front of the Provincial Capitol.

The pageant intensified the support of the provincial government to gender empowerment and promoted the acceptance of the diverse gender identities in the province.

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos addresses the spectators during Ilocoslovakla February 14, 2016 in front of the Capitol in Laoag City. (Reu A. Flores)
Ilocos Norte Governor Maria Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos, in her short speech during the event, beamed that Ilocos Norte openly embraces every one regardless of their gender.

She added that Ilocos Norte has become a province brimming with so much pride, joy and love brought by the Ilocano gay community.

Before the pageant’s coronation night, the 30 competing candidates, who represented the gay communities of their municipalities and cities and Ilocano gay groups across the world, went through a rigorous screening process on February 2 and the pre-pageant on February 12 where they showcased their respective talents.

Grant Matias, 22, of Laoag City noted how the event unified Ilocanos from the various towns, saying that “aside from being entertaining, I feel proud to see every one converge in support for a common cause.”

Held as the Valentine’s Day offering of the provincial government, the pageant encouraged every Ilocano to respect the plight and identities of the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community thereby achieving greater unity in the province.

As it trailed on the usual beauty contest pattern with its resort and sportswear portion as well as the evening wear and festival costume competitions, Miss Ilocoslovakla 2016 is a less conventional pageant with its whimsical twists.

With this, the unique wit and ingenuity of the Ilocano gay community was fused in the pageant as it took a brilliant spin-off to the famous line of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach through its official tagline “Confidently Beautiful with a Twist.”

The contestants also paid homage to Ms. Marcos as they performed in their production number donning fancy red dresses, akin to her outfit in the cover of the Philippine Tattler Magazine’s October 2015 issue. 

One of the event’s highlights was the evening gown competition wherein the contestants were given pieces of garment and used them to create their makeshift dresses on the spot.

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos (right) and businessman Handy Lao (left) crown Miss Ilocoslovakla 2016 Romel Pascual of Laoag City on February 14 in front of the Capitol. (Reu A. Flores)

As some of the contestants were rising fashion designers, the evening gown segment revealed their creativity and exceptional skills in dressmaking.

The question and answer portion, however, drew the biggest cheers from the audience as the top 13 candidates, who were trimmed down from 30, had to deliver their answers after taking in Ilocano delicacies like basi (sugarcane wine), dinardaraan (blood stew) and longganisa (native sausages).

After a night full of excitement and hilarity, the i-Vaklers, as the candidates were referred to, who emerged as winners were Romel Pascual of Laoag City (Miss Ilocoslovakla 2016), Alvin Pascual of South America (first runner-up); John Paul Albano of Burgos (second runner-up); Shiva Saliganan of Paoay (third runner-up); and Enrico Francisco of the Middle East (fourth runner-up).

Other special awards were given to Angel Pascua of South America (Unkabogable Manang Imee look) and Jaylourd Dancel of Dingras (Best Performer).

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos crowns the Miss Ilocoslovakla 2016 Romel Pascual of Laoag City on February 14 in front of the Capitol. (Reu A. Flores)
Meanwhile, the chairman of the board of judges Roque “RB” Ablan praised the provincial government for organizing an event that features what makes the Ilocano gay community outstanding.

“Maganda yung show kasi very interesting and entertaining and we can see that the gays of Ilocos Norte have a lot to offer in terms of talents, sa ganda na rin,” he added.

Other judges were GMA artist Raven Diva, Professor Julius Manzano of Mariano Marcos State University; newly crowned Miss Laoag 2016 Celine Martin; event stylist and artist Kit Mandac; respected educator Jazzy B. Pascual of Ilocos Norte College of Arts and Trades; and beauty queen Loida Dalere.






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