After PUI status, struggling Binibining Pilipinas candidate now sells fishballs

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2020 03:24 PM

Mentors Catriona Gray, Nicole Cordoves impressed by authentic stories of candidates


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MANILA -- The quest for the next Binibining Pilipinas queens continues with several pageant hopefuls baring compelling in-your-guts accounts of their struggle as candidates. 

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and Miss Grand International 2016 first runner-up Nicole Cordoves have been tasked by the Bb. Pilipinas Charities to motivate the candidates in a series of workshops, beginning with #iambinibini, a personal video account of their life stories. 

One of the biggest revelations come from Candidate 19 from Balagtas, Bulacan, Kimberly Ann Tiquestiques, who shared her experience as a COVID-19 person under investigation or PUI at the start the pandemic lockdown last March 2020. 

Experiencing body pain on March 19, Tiquestiques submitted herself for examination to the Bulacan municipal health officer. She was put on isolation as PUI from late March to April 15. It was suspected that she may have contracted the virus from her frequent travels from home to Cubao, Quezon City base of Bb. Pilipinas. 

“Sabi ko, bakit ako pa? Parang mali ito! Pero thankful ako andun ang suporta ng pamilya at mga kaibigan ko,” she said. 

It was a big blow financially for Tiquestiques who helps support her family with her part-time job as model. “Ang daming nagastos nung quarantine ko. Naubos ang naitabi kong savings,” she said. 

Tiquestiques, a Tourism graduate, is not ashamed to disclose that she is now selling street food to earn money. “Naisip ko mag-tindera ako. Nagtitinda ako ng fishballs at kikiam. Binalikan ko 'yung pagtitinda ko nung high school ako. Kailangan ko talaga ng income para makatulong sa pamilya. Kailangang malagpasan natin ‘to!” she said.

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Both Gray and Cordoves are impressed by Tiquestiques' matter-of-fact account of her journey as a beauty contest candidate. 

“You gave us lessons in going through your challenges," Gray commented after Tiquestiques presented her video. “It wasn’t heavy listening to, it was uplifting. At times, we throw away words like confident, empowered, inspired but it’s totally okay to tell your story. You don’t have to say it’s empowering or I’m glad it’s over because in reality, sometimes we don’t have a happy ending. We are still a work in progress.” 

“Walang script na binabasa, walang gimik, “ Cordoves told ABS-CBN News. “Tiquestiques is a talented storyteller, she used her hugot sa life to turn it into something so effortlessly inspiring.” 

Cordoves likewise cited the raw but inspiring accounts of Binibini candidate from Sultan Kudarat, Honey Perrenas, a vegetable farmer who was allegedly abandoned by her father; and Lovely Mercado from Isabela, a volunteer teacher who helps run her family’s sari-sari stores.

Both Gray and Cordoves are urging the candidates to share their true life experiences from the heart, setting aside memorized or formulaic narratives. 

Cordoves also shared her sense of fulfillment in being part of the Bb. Pilipinas legacy. “It’s a huge validation for me a teacher. I am honored that they recognize our efforts to pass on our valuable experience in the pageant. It’s also fulfilling to work with Cat who’s my friend. I used to be her mentor and now we’re partners! She surpassed expectations!”

The uncertainty of the future of beauty pageants in the last five months of the pandemic have admittedly taken a toll on the morale of candidates but Cordoves is happy to note that the 40 Bb. Pilipinas candidates are officially still intact. 

“We shall soon focus our mentoring on the contestants’ advocacies. Nakaka-motivate pa rin sa amin ni Cat to see the girls still making an effort. We also want to encourage them to get their minds off things,” she said. 

The Binibining Pilipinas Charities has yet to set a date for the pageant coronation for the new titlists of Bb. Pilipinas International, Grand International, Globe and Intercontinental.