Lovely July where the days  are sultry, steaming, sweltering. The city is heaving like a tired beast. Time to shed expectations, along with commute, cellular phones, calendars as our wants seem to diminish: off to a shady nook a cold drink or why not: watch beauty  pageants new and abound!

What makes a perfect beauty pageant?

There is no correct or incorrect answer to that question — only an honest or dishonest one.

Because you can’t deny its reality: it is about values, beliefs, love, money, integrity, generosity and pride.

They are all there. It could be an enjoyable way to find out more about everybody’s participation in the beauty contest and confront ethical dilemmas in a concrete, rather than abstract form.

This question exposes issues that warrant deep, solitary reflections, but is particularly stimulating when explained among those involved who will need to examine and interpret past beauty pageants, project themselves into hypothetical situation, even face difficult moral situations and make painful choices.

It can be an avenue for individual growth and to deepen relationships among other aspirants. It is also a quick way to know strangers, if not find pleasant amusement amongst themselves.

It will be surprising how effective the question catalyzes unusual and rewarding discussion.

Last Sunday, a passing interaction with colleagues led to an intoxicating tete-a-tete. A dull evening with reporters and photographers was transformed into an exciting encounter, where there was a discussion of the relevance of beauty contests. Newshen Lydia V. Solis posed the question: “why not give ourselves permission to voice dangerous  questions  [during the [press cons] that we’ve never been quite willing to ask? Provocative thoughts by an inner voice, are soon forgotten, because we pull back from bringing up questions that seem awkward or intrusive, yet these are the very ones that will open paths to understanding and intimacy with media people who genuinely want to hear what the candidates have to say…interviewees are usually far from being offended and are eager to talk about the important things in their minds.”

The suggestion gave way to even more interesting topics among us.

From one’s own experience, I’ve discovered that with the emotional tone and color of a  person’s reply in a beauty contest, the candidate may communicate even more than the works themselves, and only by probing and listening to explained responses can we pursue interesting thoughts.

We have crowned, judged beauty pageants more than a couple of times.  Some of the contestants are articulate and answering questions was actually a test of grace under pressure.

There is that unique beauty pageant when an extraordinary producer, with a great staff,  that toiled quietly and unobtrusively their enthusiastic supporters beyond the family, the hundreds who had graciously bestowed their support for this ABS CBN Foundation International using Facebook and Twitter, which proved a measure of what moves the masses.

All of these combined  in a spectrum of issues (away from the problems of the aging credo for women, in a shallow youth obsessed culture) made the enchanted evening at the Glendale High School Auditorium. The  crowd swelled and yelled, the elder ladies were visually jazzed, looking so glam as they sweat glitters—gowned and coiffed, blushed, contoured and artfully cantilevered bosoms.

The curtains were raised to a breathless audience. They made you cry and laugh and care about being old and loving the old. The pageant was a wonderful paean to older women, aging women and the women who cared for them. It showed that women are not alone, that elder women in a wide variety of circumstances, will fill unique ways of challenging the passing years. And in this era,  where  beauty  pageants  are for both young and old alike, it stood out.

It was pageant made them tell their tales and speak to the heart. He made them sing lugubrious songs, do monologues and dance that made you think about letting go of youth, that defines that way older people view reality and letting go.

Beauty contests could be frivolous, never subtle or simple, but are here to stay.

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