Catching up with Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados

The 24-year-old beauty queen joined Miss Universe Singapore Mohana Prabha in an exclusive meet-and-greet in Chino Hills

A GROUP of lucky Filipinos and pageant fans in Southern California got to meet Miss Universe Philippines 2019 Gazini Ganados this week before the beauty queen headed back to the motherland after competing in the Miss Universe pageant last month. 

Along with Miss Universe Singapore 2019 Mohana Prabha, the 24-year-old Ganados, who hails from Dapitan City in the Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines, met fans at a special meet-and-greet hosted by People’s Care and Tryst Med Aesthetics and Laser Center in Chino Hills, California on Wednesday, January 8.

Miss Universe 2019 contestants Gazini Ganados of the Philippines (front) and Mohana Prabha of Singapore (back) greet fans ahead of a meet-and-greet event at The Shoppes at Chino Hills on Wednesday, January 8. | AJPress photos by Klarize Medenilla

“It’s been really, really wonderful and I can’t wait to come back,” Ganados, whose biological father is Palestinian, excitedly told the Asian Journal. She added that among her favorite parts of her American trip included hitting the outlet malls, meeting with her Filipino American fans and becoming friends with fellow pageant contestants, like Prabha. 

As previously reported by the Asian Journal, Ganados, a graduate of the University of San Jose-Recoletos and holds degrees in tourism management and health care services, finished in the top 20 of the Miss Universe competition held on Dec. 8, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Though she didn’t win the top prize, Ganados was crowned the National Costume winner, wearing a decadent silver Cary Santiago design inspired by the Philippine Eagle. 

“It was a big, big honor to model [Santiago’s] design, and I was so grateful to win the Best National Costume award. It was such a gorgeous piece,” remarked Ganados, who won the title of Miss Universe Philippines 2019 after winning the Binibining Pilipinas 2019 competition this past June.

It was Prabha’s first time visiting the United States, and for the 24-year-old graduate of biomedical science, getting to know all the contestants and forging friendships was the highlight of her trip.

Fans got the chance to chat and take photos with the two beauty queens before they headed back to their respective home countries. | AJPress photo by Klarize Medenilla

“Meeting all the girls was very exciting because it’s really cool to have individuals from 90 different nations all in one place and to also know that we’re all here to help each other out. There was never any negativity around us and no backstabbing among the girls,” said Prabha, who completed her pageant training in the Philippines and was crowned Miss Universe Singapore in October 2019.

Ganados and Prabha are particularly close as they flew from Manila to Atlanta for the Miss Universe pageant, even becoming roommates during the competition. 

Miss Universe Philippines creative director Jonas Gaffud is also a consultant for the Miss Universe Singapore Organization and organized pre- and post-Miss Universe pageant events for the two beauty queens.

Though one of the most highly coveted jobs in the world, the day-to-day life of being a beauty queen can be anything but glamorous. The amount of preparation that goes into preparing for arguably the most prestigious beauty pageant in the world is immense, but both Ganados and Prabha said that keeping one’s mental health in check is crucial.

“When you’re competing out there, you’re not just competing with other girls — you’re competing with yourself,” shared Ganados, who is also an advocate for quality elder care. “You may ask yourself if you’re enough or if you’re worth it and you cannot help but compare yourself to others. And of course, there are people who’ll try to tell you what to do and how to do certain things, but you know yourself better than anyone else. You’ve got to trust yourself.”

As representatives for their respective countries, both Ganados and Prabha know the hard work it takes to achieve Miss Universe status. The world of beauty pageantry can be a difficult one to navigate, but as long as you know yourself and understand that winning the top prize isn’t the most important thing, you will be OK.

“Accept yourself first before [you] seek anything else because it’s easy to destroy yourself in a minute,” Prabha said. “So in order to advance, you’ve got to love yourself and appreciate the flaws as much as the strengths. We all have flaws, and it’s important to embrace all parts of ourselves.”

Ganados added that anyone who aspires to become a beauty queen must have the confidence to “take up space,” mirroring the sentiments of Miss Universe 2019 winner Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa.

“As women, we can second-guess ourselves so much and we often don’t trust ourselves, even women who may be at the forefront of their careers. So you have to make space for yourself, and there is enough space for you in this world,” Ganados said, proudly dubbing 2020 the year that “women dominate the world!” 

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