Breaking Mental Health Barriers
What’s something you practice in your everyday life that you believe to be beneficial in terms of self-actualization? Do you recommend other people to try this as well? How?
I practice gratitude everyday. It’s very simple — I wake up and I say a few things I am grateful for.
For me, it’s so beneficial because I do have a history with anxiety, and ever since practicing gratitude,
it has helped me stay grounded and it literally takes away my fears and worries and I end up focusing more on the positives in my life. Practicing gratitude is so powerful because it has the ability to change your life and the more you practice gratitude, the happier you become, and this is something I hope I can influence everyone to cultivate in their daily life as well.
BEAUTY IN BALANCE
Who, what, or where do you draw inspiration from?
I have many inspirations, but my parents are truly my main inspiration. My mum and dad have sacrificed so much to give me and my siblings the endless opportunities we have today and thinking about this makes me want to work so much harder so I can pay them back.
Have they always been your main source or is this a recent connection?
Yes, my parents have always been my main inspiration. When I was in school, I always showed up being kind, respectful, and with manners because that’s what they taught me growing up. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my parents. I am a reflection of all the values and principles they instilled in me and I know they’re proud of me.
What would wearing the crown truly mean to you and your beliefs?
I am a value-based person – my values pave the way for me to live a meaningful life, filled with passion and purpose.
Having a crown is not just an accessory or something to flaunt – it’s so much more: it is being a spokesperson, an ambassador for Miss World Philippines organization and a representative of the Philippines. All of this means that I now have a greater responsibility and I would have an even bigger audience. An audience who sees me as a role model, an inspiration and aspiration. I intend to show up to the world filled with genuine kindness, humility, and passion for what I stand for in hopes of inspiring young girls to chase their dreams and to believe they can achieve everything they set their mind to.
CLEAR YOUR HEAD WITH A QUEEN
What do you think the general masses don’t really see or realize about pageants, specifically Miss World?
Apart from all the glitz and glam in pageantry, it also provides an incredible platform for beauty queens like me to raise awareness on various issues around the world. Miss World Philippines specifically allows this, as their core value is “beauty with a purpose”.
By creating awareness on current issues, we are able to open discussions and impact the lives of many people and also hope to empower individuals to join in on the train of change. Being a beauty queen is not as easy as one might think, especially with negative comments from haters constantly being received.
But despite this, we do what we do out of passion and love because many of us are so incredibly determined in creating long-lasting positive change with the different causes we advocate for.
What are the things you stand for that made you want to join/compete?
As a mental health survivor, I knew I had a responsibility to use my voice to bring about more awareness on the stigma that surrounds mental health.
I wanted to join Miss World Philippines because this organisation uniquely offers me an incredible platform to shed light on Mental Health awareness.
The stigma surrounding mental health not just in the Philippines, but also all over the world, is still so widespread. The silver lining in the Covid Pandemic emerging is that more and more people are now realising that Mental Health awareness is being acknowledged and yet, there is still so much to be done to debunk all the misconceptions and stigma surrounding this.
Therefore, I joined Miss World Philippines in order to have a wider reach with this Advocacy and help educate more people on Mental Health Awareness.
If you were to win MissWorldPhilippines2021, what advocacy or social issue would you like to focus on during your reign?
It would be an absolute dream to be crowned Miss World Philippines 2021 and advocate for mental health awareness on a global stage to impact more people and educate more people internationally.
One of my goals as a mental health advocate is to hold events and presentations in schools (elementary through college) and discuss the importance of mental health to students.
Further on in the future, I hope to help add the subject of mental health and the prevention measures in the school curriculums here in the Philippines.
Because it begs the question, “how are kids meant to learn if they are not educated?” Most people are affected by mental health challenges at school and in their youths, so teaching this in school is a must for me.
What importance do you think this holds for the growth of our society?
We define stigma as, “when someone sees you in a negative way due to your mental illness” and then, there’s discrimination, where someone treats you in a negative way due to your mental illness.
When we educate people on what mental health truly is and we debunk misconceptions surrounding this, we get to live in a more compassionate, understanding, and accepting world. People can finally seek help and openly discuss how they feel without judgement and fear and people thinking they’re crazy.
I believe the pandemic has really highlighted that mental health is important. More than ever, Filipinos are open to learning more about mental health and this is a step towards the right direction for mental health awareness and education.
After winning both Miss Teen International 2017 & Miss Manila last 2018, would you say that the world of pageantry still surprises and/or excites you?
Apart from being a beauty queen, I am also a pageant fan! I love most things about pageantry.
Being a candidate for Miss World Philippines is phenomenal and exciting and nothing absolutely compares to it. It still surprises me how incredibly supportive Filipinos are and I can truly feel the love and support from every single one who supports me.
The Filipino pageant fans are some of the greatest supporters out there and I can only imagine it when it’s on an international stage, too!
How do they differ from your ongoing journey in the Miss World Philippines 2021 preparations?
Miss World Philippines, Miss Manila, and Miss Teen International all differ in their own ways. I can discuss the differences in how I felt when I competed. When I competed in Miss Teen International, this was my first ever proper pageant and I competed without prior experience. So, everything was truly a huge fun. With Miss Manila, I was so unaware how big pageantry was in the Philippines that it really felt like I was competing in the Olympics. Hahaha. But, of course, as previously discussed with my reasons for joining Miss World Philippines, there’s a bigger purpose in joining than just for myself. But, with all my previous pageant experiences, they were essential for me because they gave me all the knowledge I needed in order to compete in Miss World Philippines in a more impactful way.
What pushed you to use your social media platforms to speak freely about mental health matters?
Social media has so much value and power in impacting and influencing people.
After going through my own moments of lows in the past, it made me realise that I wasn’t consuming enough information regarding depression, anxiety, and other mental health topics that were essential for me to heal.
Eventually, I knew there were people feeling the same: clueless where to find information and overwhelmed with fear.
So, I decided to open up and share my experiences in hopes of letting other people know that they’re not alone because I knew someone out there is feeling alone and scared, and what
I’m sharing could save their life.
I wanted to share my vulnerability to others to say, “hey I’m here, I’m going through this, too and you’re not alone. We can get through this together instead of doing it alone. We got this!”
And now I feel like I’m creating a small community of strong people by opening up about my struggles.
Are there any memorable responses from this practice of yours that gave you the confidence to keep doing it?
When I opened up about my depression, I received a lot of messages from strangers thanking me and sending messages saying, “thank you” and “you have no idea how much I needed this right now”.
All the responses were memorable to me, but the impact I gave to others, and knowing that they weren’t alone in this silent battle truly stuck with me the most, and those things, to me, will last forever.
ROYAL ADVOCATE OF SELF-CARE
What’s the biggest takeaway you can say in being vocal about mental health especially during the pandemic?
My biggest takeaway is that no voice is ever too little to create change.
I may not have the biggest reach on social media, but I know I am making a difference, and if I can impact just one person by feeling heard or if I educated them on these topics, they can impact the lives of others around them too and create a ripple effect of change!
For me, this is a form of success and I won’t stop creating more awareness even if I am no longer in pageantry.
With the rise of anxieties brought forth by said pandemic, how crucial do you think it is to discuss things like cabin fever and healthy coping mechanisms?
The pandemic brought about more talks about the importance of mental health here in the Philippines and highlighting the issues of Cabin fever and coping mechanisms.
The discussions held around this are crucial, as they provide an opportunity to have open discussions about mental health and also, the importance of healthy habits that are associated with healthier well-being, in order for us to readjust the focus from “cure” for mental health illnesses to focus it on “prevention”.
We shouldn’t get to the point of feeling extremely low or suicidal for us to realise that we need help.
We train our bodies and immune system to be strong so we avoid getting hurt physically, and we should see mental health as the same – to be trained to avoid illnesses.
At the end of the day, there really is no health without mental health.
For those not as educated in mental health, what’s one simple advice or saying that you’d like to express for them to see it in a better light?
Oftentimes, mental health illnesses are considered Invisible Disabilities.
You cannot look at someone and know if they’re suffering mentally or not.
So, to shed light on this, please know that 1 in 5 people could be dealing with depression, anxiety or other forms of mental illnesses and be kind!
You never know who needs the kindness you have to offer.
It could save someone’s life.
As you’ve mentioned in one of your interviews before, you agree that Miss World is all about “Beauty With a Purpose”, in regards to that, what purpose are you currently in pursuit of and why did you choose Miss World/Miss World Philippines as a medium for its execution?
Education of what specifically?
It’s fair to say that pageantry, especially Ms. World Philippines, is also an avenue for women like me to reach other pursuits. I have a history in acting and it has always been a dream of mine to act in a role such as Lara Croft or Michelle Rodriguez in “Fast and Furious”. This thought has always lingered in my mind.
I feel like I have a badass in me that must be unleashed through the camera lenses (hahaha) and I can really see it happening post Miss World Philippines.
If there’s one thing everyone should be educated about — or at the very least, aware of — what do you believe it should be & why?
Of course, I’d educate as many people as I can on mental health. Although I’ve discussed this a lot in this interview, I probably won’t stop until it’s destigmatized.
But, why mental health? It is for people to seek treatment without being perceived as “crazy” or “unstable” all because of how society looks at mental illness.
I stand so deeply on this because lives were lost fighting this silent battle and all they wanted was to seek help, but it’s so scary to do that with all the discrimination and stigma.
And that’s why I do what I do.