LONDON -- COVID-19 restrictive measures in the England ended last July 19. Formal limits on social contact, big gatherings, wearing of masks, and all other lockdown restrictions except for a few, were lifted.
With the road to normality in England, some of the very first Filipino events to resume are beauty pageants.
Undeniably, the Filipino diasporas in Europe have a penchant for beauty pageants. But they are no ordinary events because they are designed for charitable causes, particularly to help fellow Filipinos back in the Philippines, especially during the pandemic.
Last August 7, Mrs. Philippines Maharlika UK 2021 was held in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The event was organized by the Yorkshire Maharlika Filipino Club (YMFC), a non-profit community organization composed of a team of volunteers.
For YMFC founding chairwoman Lolita Boddy, the return of events like this are much needed. It was not only meant to showcase the beauty and talent of Filipino women, but also to lend a helping hand.
"In search for Maharlika ambassadors, each candidate has a very important role to fulfill and that is to fundraise for our project that will benefit the poorest communities in the Philippines," said Boddy, who has been involved in the Filipino community in Yorkshire for 26 years.
"By choosing kindness, compassion and service to others, we can be the lighthouse to somebody’s storm," she added.
The pageant was able to raise £8,500 amid the national COVID-19 lockdown. The amount was already handed over to the beneficiary of the project: 11 boats for the unprivileged fisherman's community in Calero, Malolos, Bulacan.
This year, another 15 boats will be donated to complete the goal of 26 boats for the same community.
'NO AGE LIMIT FOR YOUR DREAM'
In Lancaster, England, another beauty pageant for a cause resumed on July 29 and 30, after being postponed due to the lockdowns.
Mrs. Philippines Eurasia 2021 Ceajae Liddle and Mrs. Pearl Philippines EuroAsia 2021 Daisy Esguerra were crowned grand winners in the two divisions.
For Esguerra, a 51-year-old former flight attendant-turned-pawn broker, there is no age limit to reach for one's dream.
"I just want to show to everyone that at 51 years old, you can still join a pageant, It's not too late for women my age to achieve their dream. Also, this is a beauty contest for charity, which is to help unfortunate people, disabled children, and people in need," said Esguerra, who is also a mother of one.
A beauty pageant enthusiast and winner of various contests in her late teens and early 20s, Esguerra said being crowned in her 50s is a dream come true.
She said anything can happen if one perseveres, even during the most difficult of times.
"It's like a magnet for me. Whenever there is a pageant, I'm there. I'm very proud because I can feel now how it's like to be like a Mrs. Universe. Filipino are very passionate about beauty pageants, and why not? We deserve it," she said.
As a working mother and wife of a nurse, Esguerra also learned during the pandemic that life is short and people like herself should do what they aspire for, and always try to lend a helping hand.
Hence, her venture into the pageant also helped her community in Cavite.
"Challenge yourself, be brave enough to achieve your goal and everything else will follow," said Esguerra, who is from East London.