“I feel I metamorphosed significantly after having journeyed this far…having proven my worth and capabilities, earnestly offered my advocacy, and emerged triumphant. What an awesome 180-degree turn and a complete life-changing experience!” - Excelsa De Jesus, Miss RP-Int’l 2018
East coast lone representative to the newly revitalized Miss Republic of the Philippines (now co-existing with male counterparts, hence, Mr. & Miss RP), eighteen-year-old dusky and statuesque Excelsa De Jesus of Bronx, New York effortlessly bested other overseas hopefuls during a hotly contested beauty pageant held at the Grand Ballroom of Sofitel Philippine Plaza on Wednesday, January 31, 2018.
A brief history of Miss Republic of the Philippines revealed its initial founding in 1969 under the stewardship of Ferdie Villar of Spotlights Promotions where winners represented the Philippines in the Miss World contest, the oldest international pageant organized by Eric Morley in 1951, now chaired by his wife, Julia, after his death in 2000.
Looking back, there were about 8 Miss RP delegates produced under Villar although prior to his franchise, the Philippines had already sent representatives in 1966, ‘67, and ’68 through the auspices of fashion organizations, the Editors Guild of the Philippines, and Beauty World, Ltd., respectively.
Miss World was regarded as the most elusive crown for the Philippines with Evangeline Pascual almost making it in 1973 when she finished First Runner-up to Marjorie Wallace of the USA while Pinky Amabuyoc ended up 4th Runner-up in 1968. It was only in 2013 when Megan Young finally brought home the bacon that ended the 44-year drought of the Philippines.
Unfortunately, the franchise was transferred to Mutya Ng Pilipinas (1977 to 1991), until it was transferred to Bb. Pilipinas Charities (1992 to 2010), then under Cory Quirino’s CQ Global Quest, Inc. (2011 -2016) and currently to Arnold Vegafria as its franchisee.
After undergoing various changes, Miss Republic of the Philippines has resurrected, reformatted, and surfaced in a brand new image with the fashionable and thriving entrepreneur Miss Lynette Padolina at the totem pole.
Contrastingly stamping its dissimilar mark from other popular beauty pageants, Mr. & Miss Republic of the Philippines is a “Scholarship Pageant” – a revolutionary approach to pageantry with emphasis on scholarship, an engaging concept to cultivate a positive image among Filipino youth through empowered education, nurtured culture, and global interaction.
The year’s official candidates of 16 males and 19 females were presented to the press on Thursday, January 25 at Hotel 101 in Pasay City while the morning of January 28 saw them tour Malacañan Palace and later gathered a huge assemblage of crowd at the Fisher Mall in Quezon City for their talent and advocacy presentation and swimwear competition.
Following a series of social appearances with corresponding competition-related activities, the moment of truth revealed the surfacing of New York’s bet as the winner. Aside from the Miss Republic of the Philippines-International title, Excelsa garnered the highest online votes that catapulted her status as the People’s Choice while simultaneously bagging the Best in Talent and Advocacy. The judges unanimously favored the well-focused and driven New Yorker.
The youngest daughter of Wilfredo De Jesus (a Physical Therapist and Pastor at the International Fellowship Church at College Point, NY) and Ana Gene “Diane” M. De Jesus (also a Physical Therapist and Homecare Provider), Excelsa (as her name connotes) excels academically and is profoundly equipped with a vocal talent that resonates with powerful grandiosity and dominant air of unspoiled excellence.
With a full force support from her family (with special mention of her brothers John Paul and Christian) the newly crowned beauty title holder trained strenuously unmindful of the inclement weather and the distance she had to endure (commuting alone from the Bronx to Jersey City) just to perfect her walk, turns, projection, and stage presentation and her sacrifice suitably paid off.
“She won’t settle for less. No amount of lure would hinder her plans. Nothing could dissuade her from what she had aimed for. Her well-motivated dedication and unrivaled perseverance to overcome her weaknesses were startling and praise-worthy. I am in awe of her endurance,” attested her New Jersey-based mentor and pageant coach.
To better be familiar with the newly crowned Miss Republic Of the Philippines-International, I set a phone interview with her last Monday night while she was taking her much-needed respite with her mom and dad in their family-owned Ricky’s Paradise Cove island resort in Port Barton, Palawan.
Asian Journal (AJ): How confident were you that your training was sufficient enough to merit a spot in the contest?
Excelsa De Jesus (EDJ): Very much! I was firmly confident in what I’ve learned and trained for. And not to brag, I guess I delivered a good performance.
AJ: Days before the pageant, what kept you tossing in bed?
EDJ: Actually, I was just a bit worried if I would be able to come up with a performance of an international level since that was my first ever pageant. I’m used to performing before a huge crowd but this time, it was different…I was competing.
AJ: During the entire duration of the contest, how would you assess yourself from among the rest of the candidates?
EDJ: At first I observed and analyzed each other’s weaknesses and strengths… and tried to evaluate mine. I was a bit tense and uneasy especially during our first meeting with the press…but I didn’t show any sign of discomfort or anxiety. I relentlessly built my self-reliance as the final day came closer.
AJ: During the process of announcing the winners, what was going on your mind?
EDJ: I don’t know… I wasn’t at all tense. I was extremely confident especially after having won special awards. It came like natural to me and I was just playing it cool. I guess my parents and my supporters were more in an edgy and jittery situation than me.
AJ: What did you think was your edge over the rest?
EDJ: That would be my perspective in life. I always have a positive outlook in any given situation. I knew it could be a life-changing experience that’s why I did and gave my best.
AJ: After achieving what you aimed for what is the next in your personal agenda?
EDJ: Nothing will change in what I have planned. I still have to pursue a career in music and keep on honing my vocal talent. Well, my title and crown will just strengthen my focus on my advocacy in helping educate less privileged children. I came to realize that no matter how driven I am but if these young souls are deprived of food and clothing, education is far from being accomplished.
AJ: If there’s but one thing that you regret having poorly delivered or should have executed perfectly, what could it be?
EDJ: Oh, that would be during the swimsuit portion. My pageant coach consistently reminded me to refrain from bouncing while walking which I perfected during training but still briskly treaded bouncily due to pressure. It was rather a little later when I came back to my senses and delivered the winning strut I was trained.
AJ: Summing it up, what did you benefit from the whole process?
EDJ: The rare experience, of course! It broadened my outlook in life from being able to intermingle with Filipinos from different parts of the globe.
AJ: Describe your journey in one word.
Lastly, Miss RP-Int’l. 2018 Excelsa De Jesus wants to take this opportunity to extend her profound gratitude to all who went out of their way to support her especially her family, friends in the media and the entertainment arena in NY, Dr. Romulo Alcalde Aromin Jr. and Miss Lynette Padolina of Mr. & Miss Republic of the Philippines, DJ Chinita Na Pogi of Kabisera Cafe, Jeanette Marco, and Joel Adriano.
Incidentally, prizes at stake were a scholarship grant worth P900,000.00; a cash prize of P100,000.00; travel opportunities abroad to attend the Philippine Independence Day Parade in NYC; wardrobe allowances equivalent to P100,000.00, and travel to key destinations in the Philippines to promote tourism and foster cultural awareness.