After being crowned Miss Universe-Philippines 2021, Beatrice Luigi Gomez was recently awarded another title. She is now Naval Reserve Sergeant at the Naval Reserve Center-Eastern Visayas (NRCen-EV).
“Pasok siya sa lahat ng parameters,” says NRCen-EV Commander James Francis Lugtu in a phone interview. The promotion from being Corporal to Sergeant was made possible through a special order citing the 26-year-old beauty queen’s “exemplary accomplishments” since joining the naval force in January.
The naval force is still unable to draft specific duties and responsibilities for Gomez as of yet since the Cebuana, the first openly queer Miss Universe Philippines winner, has to fulfill her obligations first for the title. According to Lugtu, however, once she can already perform her tasks in the navy, she will be given a designation aligned with her expertise.
“Yung qualities ng isang sundalo, nakita ko sa kanya. For me, she performs like a regular military soldier,” said Lugtu. “She is very dedicated. She is very passionate. That time she was already preparing for the pageant, she still showed up for field trainings.”
Lugtu was surprised when he was first told that Gomez won Binibining Cebu 2020. “Nagsasandok [lang siya] ng lugaw sa isa sa aming mga feeding programs,” he recalls. “Walang arte. Kung ano yung ginagawa ng mga kasama niya, ginagawa niya rin.”
Assisting in feeding programs is only one of the responsibilities of a naval reservist which also include participation in military expansion for conventional and unconventional warfare, anti-guerrilla operations, combat support, service support, and disaster rescue and relief.
The Cebuana has already completed the Basic Citizen’s Military Training. This meant attending classroom lectures and field demonstrations that test physical endurance in mountains or forest-like environments.
Calisthenics is also a major part of the naval reservist curriculum, along with the Field Training Exercises in reception, map reading and navigation, battle formation, raid and ambush, battle formation, hand signal and marksmanship. Lugtu says he was always impressed at how Gomez performs under pressure, as seen during close-order drills—in marching, maneuvering, and formal handling of arms.
While watching Gomez’s performance online during the Miss Universe Philippines pageant night, Lugtu spotted some military techniques in how the Cebuana carried herself. “I would not like to take all the credit but the military training has helped her. Nakita ko she is very composed. Nung tinanong siya, parang kausap lang niya ang emcee (KC Montero) na casual. Nung tinawag na siya yung panalo, nakita ko na normal sa kanya na mananalo. I saw her confidence, which I am very sure na nakuha niya sa training as Philippine navy reservist. It played a crucial role because our training also includes character development and patriotism—pinakita ni Bea lahat yun sa pageant.”
Gomez’s manager Sven Chua describes his ward as “the silent force”, often overshadowed by other contestants who have a larger fan base and who has stronger online presence in the months leading to pageant night.
But Lugtu knew the crown was meant for the Cebuana. “Para sabihi’ng unexpected winner siya, hindi. We already expected it. She is straightforward, wala nang paligoy-ligoy. It’s an attitude of a military—to accomplish a mission. Her mission that night was to win, and she did. She accomplished her mission.”
All photos from Naval Reserve Center-Eastern Visayas