Bald beauty, among Ms. Earth Philippines-USA contestants

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Nov 02 2013 03:50 PM | Updated as of Nov 02 2013 11:50 PM

REDWOOD CITY, California – The search for Miss Earth Philippines-USA is underway and beautiful young women from different parts of America and even from other parts of the world are set to compete on November 2 at 5 p.m. at the San Ramon Performing Arts Center in San Ramon, California.

The winner will get to represent Filipino-Americans in the Miss Philippines Earth pageant to be held in December.

Some of the contestants said what drew them to the pageant is its focus on caring and preserving the environment.

"I want to tackle on preserving the rainforest, since a lot of it is being taken down," contestant Hanna Tolentino, a 16-year old from Denver said.

"I want to focus on the whole environment, particularly recycling and sustainability," Carmen Baena, a 20-year old from Sydney, Australia added.

21-year old Estephanie Laxamana from South San Francisco, California stated, "Recycling and promoting awareness on helping our environment — that’s a very beautiful undertaking."

Another contestant, Angelica Galindez, wants to redefine beauty.

The 19-year old, who was born and raised in San Francisco is completely bald and does not plan on wearing any wig during the pageant.

Like any other young girl, she said she considered her long hair her crowning glory. But when she was 15, an aunt noticed she was balding.

She was diagnosed with alopecia areata, a type of hair loss that happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, which is where hair growth begins.

For years, she had to get injections to her head and had to take steroids.

"One day, I finally got the courage to say, ''I'm done!'. And then I got a wig. But that started to irritate my head. So I came home one day from high school and said, 'Just shave it off'.”

Galindez has the rarest form of alopecia. She is among the 10% of people with this condition that may never regrow hair.

“When I turned 15, it was just my head. And after that, I started gradually losing my eyebrows, my eyelashes — my whole body hair,” she shared.

She admitted being bullied in high school for her looks. Kids called her sick, a cancer patient. She pointed out, "At first, I was ashamed. But I went through all that pain and it's made me grow."

What's ironic is that Galindez, who is now based in Utah, works as a hairstylist. She said she wants to serve as an inspiration, not just to her clients, but to other young girls, especially those afflicted with alopecia.

Galindez sends them this message: "You can just be yourself, in whatever shape or form."