Julee Ann Marie Bourgoin: ‘Beauty could be a blessing, an asset, and a curse…’

As beauty authorities often say: “A beautiful woman has the most probability to explore every possibility but failure sets in the absence of an excellent head on her shoulders.”
Realistically, beauty isn’t all that a woman needs to be able to confront what challenges her, or strive on her own when relying mainly on her dazzling physicality. It cannot constantly be an asset either if she lacks the proper intellectual tool….for beauty could be both subjective and a depreciating asset since it fades.  It only settles down to one thing: that beauty and brains are relatively indispensable.
The Filipinas have been consistently dominating the international beauty pageant scenes whereby firmly establishing their strong hold and capable supremacy in these multi-ethnic beauty competitions. Although the said pageants are more than just physical appearance laced with a purpose-sort-of-ensnaring-slogan, still, self confidence and smartness play the winning keys to grabbing the crown… and Philippine delegates to the field have justifiably played it in an equal footing.
Cagayan de Oro City, a first class highly urbanized metropolis in southern Philippines and capital of Misamis Oriental, has consistently contributed its own homegrown beauties to local and international beauty pageants foremost of which are: Miss Global 2nd Runner-up Catherine Almirante, 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurztbach, Miss Earth 2015 semi-finalist Beatrice Alvarez, and lately, its Mutya ng Pilipinas bet last year, Julee Ann Marie Bourgoin.
The only child to Cebuana Judith Nemenzo and Canadian-American Alan John Bourgoin (French: Bu-gwa), Julee was born in Bantayan Island in Cebu (under the zodiac sign Aquarius) supremely endowed with the best genes from both parents. Already demonstrating indications of being a potential beauty queen even during her young age, Julee had her initial taste of pageantry when her parents entered her in a baby contest but profoundly within her, all she dreamt was to be a Marine Biologist…after repeatedly watching The Little Mermaid and being acclimatized to swimming and playing along the beaches of her hometown.
But fate had it that she was to tread the path which would lead her where crowns and scepters are worn. In 2006 when she was barely Grade 1, she bagged the most coveted title of Little Miss Mambajao (her town in Camiguin) followed by Miss Teen Summer during the town fiesta when she was 14. Beauty pageants became second nature after her studies: when she was 17 and in second year college, Julee was crowned Miss Mambajao and in the same year she was honored as Miss Intramurals First-Runner-up.
Her 17th summer gave her more opportunities to broaden her horizon in beauty competitions. In 2002, she reigned as Mutya ng Buahanan (Lanzones / Lansium domesticum), a prestigious title that entails the obligatory promotion of the island’s world renowned sweet tropical fruit that Camiguin has been widely identified with.
In April of 2003, the already developed beauty with a lofty height and spindleshank frame became Cagayan de Oro’s delegate to the annual Miss PRISAA (Private Schools Athletic Association) in Tagum City, Davao where she brought home the First Runner-up title.
Julee’s unswerving visibility on the ramp and pageant stage plus her developed skills in public relations, composite projection, and self-confidence easily earned the nod of local pageant organizers to make her the region’s representative to the national selection of Mutya Ng Pilipinas. Although primarily, the tourism executives from Cagayan de Oro City urged her parents’ approval of her candidacy to the Miss CDO contest but Miss Jean P. Ceasar, an influential pageant coordinator, became instrumental in her joining the national search. It was Dennis Almazan who polished her deportment and related pageantry details before embracing her first ever major competition.
Confidently armed with dedicated focus and unyielding fortitude, Julee, together with thirty equally gorgeous girls (nine as overseas delegates) enthusiastically engaged in a neck-to-neck battle of beauty and brains within the five-week duration of the 47th edition of the contest that culminated on August 2, 2015 at the Resorts World Manila.
An early standout, it wasn’t startling when Julee was included in the Top 10 and after the grueling Q & A (Question and Answer) portion, she remained standing with the rest of the best during the Top Five selection…only to feel a bit (yes, a bit…that was she said) when she ended up First Runner-up.
“Where did you think you fail or where were you short of?” I curiously queried, and she replied with an instantaneously all set answer.
“I guess, despite my brief but substantial response, the judges weren’t satisfied or completely convinced with how I answered the question: What is the one word that you can give to describe the Philippines?” Julee replied in a voice devoid of any tone of regret.
“Amazing!” She blurted out. “That was the word that first came to my mind. But after having given my rationale, I thought of ‘Family’ but it was rather late. The latter could have had a much stronger bearing since I was about to say that the Philippines is home to me and my family is my home.”
“But in all fairness to the major winner, Leren Mae Magnaye Bautista, she came home from the international competition with the title, Miss Tourism Queen International 2015…it was indubitably a justifiable victory,” she said.
Normally, once being a member of the Royal Court of Beauties, the prestige that goes with the title becomes a sufficient passport to effortlessly invest in a profitable career or snatch a promotion but it was different in Julee’s case. Innately independent and adventurous, she anxiously craved for a more challenging setting…something that is challenging while capably bringing out the best in her. At that time, she found Camiguin quiet and easy… Manila, rather arrestingly different but not enough to pin her down…and the lure of New York became an ultimate option.
Notwithstanding her parents’ persuasive appeal to stay, Julee left the Philippines with an imperturbable heart strappingly armed with a magnificent obsession and a firm decision to succeed in an alien land with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree she earned from the Liceo de Cagayan University (2014) neatly stashed under her sleeves.
Through her mom’s friend whose sister lives in Queens, New York, Julee easily got a roof over her head with a new surrounding that looked already familiar.
In a matter of just two months coupled with occasional homesickness and day-to-day undemanding adjustments, Julee feels like a true-blooded New Yorker. Strangely enough, she feels like having lived here during her past life as every nook and cranny invite familiarity.
Currently employed waiting tables in the Upper Eastside in Manhattan with another similar job waiting to start with anytime this week, Julee has only eyes keenly focused on working, saving, and broadening her knowledge through taking another course with the most in-demand employment.
“I might also consider my friends’ prodding of exploring the modeling scene although I feel I’m a bit heavy at the moment. After shedding off a few pounds and a little more training why not? After all, it was this field that actually made who I am… after having modeled in print and ramp back home,” she said.
Unbeknownst to many, even among her co-candidates, the reluctant beauty queen suffered from AIS (Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis) and had undergone a corrective surgery of her spine in 2012 (three years before Mutya Ng Pilipinas) that normalized her posture and free from possible serious medical condition. The cause was unknown since there wasn’t from any side of her family that suffered from such case and it was ruled out to be due to her wrong postural habit brought about by her height and strenuous activities.
Incidentally, what has she to say about being beautiful.
“Beauty, per se, is actually something that pleases the eyes and excites the soul. It brings an ethereal kind of feeling that brightens and enlightens everything. But not everything beautiful could be a blessing…yes, oftentimes, beauty could be an asset but there were cases  when that same blessing could turn into a curse. Hopefully, the beauty that I was blessed with will be an asset and far from being a curse,” the gorgeous-looking beauty elucidates in well-chosen words in a graceful attempt to prove her point.
Young, beautiful, intellectually capacitated, and gutsy, Julee Ann Marie Bourgoin isn’t in a rush to get into a serious commitment.
“Not in the near future… no, not yet,” she instantly reacted when queried about her lovelife. “I want to enjoy my life as a free soul. I want to travel and explore the world. I have huge dreams I wanted to realize and take pleasure in due time. I’ve just started to establish my life…that will come even sans concentration. I have a wide open world with limitless possibilities and options,” she concluded.
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