LONDON - When she failed to secure a title in the Philippines, Zandra Flores didn't give up on her dreams of becoming an international beauty queen, and now her determination is finally paying off.
The British-Filipina is set to represent the United Kingdom at this year's Miss Supranational pageant, after securing the title at a national search in July, making her the first Filipina to hold that crown in Britain.
“I feel very honored, especially because I’m being recognized abroad as a Filipina. And to be one of those Filipinas with a crown is a big privilege already,” she told ABS-CBN Europe at a gown fitting at the Aftershock boutique in London, who are providing her dresses for the competition.
She added: “I feel like I’m just a very lucky girl right now. Probably it’s my time to shine. I feel happy, but still quite surreal.”
Flores is a product of sheer determination. Before clinching the Miss Supranational UK crown, she fought long and hard in numerous pageants both in the UK and the Philippines, including Miss Earth Philippines 2012, Binibining Pilipinas 2013, and Miss Universe Great Britain 2014.
But even though she didn’t win any of those titles, she never gave up on her dreams.
“I did try my best to represent the Philippines,” she said, “and now I got lucky to represent the UK. If you have a dream, continue doing it, work hard. It doesn't mean that if you failed once, you’re not going to win it next time. Just see failure as a learning curve.”
Born in Pangasinan, the 25-year-old beauty queen moved to the UK in her early teens in 2000 to join her parents who are both working as nurses in the country.
She has since completed a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences and is currently taking up a master’s in the hope of pursuing a career in medicine. She is also a commercial model, singer and actress.
Between her studies and other commitments, she also found time to pursue her dream of becoming an international beauty queen.
“I’m so happy and excited after all those she’s been through all the way to this pageant, and I think this is her time. We are still here to support her,” said her mother, Susan, who accompanies her daughter at beauty pageants.
Support has also poured in from the British and Filipino communities in Europe.
“Filipino people are amongst the friendliest people in the world, and she is just a beautiful looking girl, but she’s a very nice person as well. And she suits fashion designer clothes. It’s a pleasure to dress her,” said Alan Enfield, a seasoned fashion adviser and pageant judge who is helping the British Filipina on the lead up the pageant.
Flores is now busy preparing for the competition. She plans to return to the Philippines in September to embark on a month-long training with local pageant coaches, Kagandahang Flores Group, which helped title holders in the past and has been among her avid supporters from the beginning.
She is also hoping to get tips from 2013 Miss Supranational winner Mutya Datul, whom she previously met during her time at Philippine pageants.
“I’m just going to do this pageant like an experience. I’m just going to be happy and make loads of friends and I think that’s what’s important,” she said.
“If you treat it as high-pressure, you’re not going to enjoy it, which I have learned that I shouldn’t have done before. I was so pressured and told myself I was going to do this and that, but we should do it the other way around. We should have fun. Just be happy with whatever comes our way, and just do our best.”
Miss Supranational 2014 will be held on December 5 in Krynica Zdrój, Poland.