Hers is a modernised version of a Filipino warrior. Glittering in gold, her garments, shield and sword draw inspiration from the different parts of her country including her ancestors, some of which are Muslims — the fiercest defenders of freedom and invasion.
The Philippines is almost of the same size as Oman if all the land masses are put together but unlike the Sultanate, the country was divided into more than seven thousand islands creating a wide array of culture and tradition. It has over 100 languages and dialects and every island created its own identity. In the last 1000 years, it has gone through countless battles and invasions and it became a colony of Spain, the Americans, and for a time, by Japan.
The Philippine Independence Day is celebrated every June 12 but in Oman, the celebration took place much later on June 28 at Al Falaj Hotel in Ruwi organised by the Filipino Community Social Club (Filcosoc – Oman.)
Charie Palisoc was a warrior princess for her cultural attire. When she brandished her sword in the air, she was visually communicating that the celebration is much deserved for many had died to attain what the Philippines now enjoy — its independence. One contestant was dressed in a sarimanok-inspired garment with the sarimanok being a colourful mythical creature that brings good fortune and another in a traditional Filipiniana — a gown comprised of four pieces and quite popular because of its high-shoulder pads.
While Narciso Castaneda, Philippine Ambassador to Oman was not in attendance, Consul Bernadette A. Mendoza delivered his message saying that the event was “to remind us that we are Filipinos and we have a country that is sovereign, and independent multi-cultural yet united.”
He added that by “reviving the beauty pageant, we are keeping the Filipino community connected with the culture of our country.”
Engineer Roland S. Leaño, Filcosoc Chairman, shared that while Filipinos are, “in this foreign land, the land of friendly people, OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) do not stop being Filipinos.”
“OFWs of today contributes to the success and advancement of our country and while we are not in the Philippines, we maintain our being Filipino,” echoing Castaneda’s statement.
He added, “Freedom means a lot to our people. The freedom we are highlighting is the freedom to be ourselves and express ourselves. The participation of our candidates and performers is a manifestation that we are truly free.”
Why beauty pageant? Leaño said that “women of today are empowered to advance different causes. While it is the highlight of the celebration, we are also acknowledging the importance of preserving our culture so taking this opportunity to educate our children about the beauty of our traditions.”
Obsession with beauty pageants
The Philippines is obsessed with beauty pageants. Of the country’s favourite pastimes — it definitely is in the top three right after Manny Pacquiao’s boxing matches and before basketball.
Beauty queens were afforded certain influence in the community and with four Miss Universes in the beauty pageant’s entire run, these women had championed different advocacies and on the process helped millions not only for children to have the proper education but also on other social issues like health particularly AIDS, climate change among others.
The passion for beauty pageants and the change that it can do to the community has not been missed even by Filipinos in Oman. While Filcosoc could have done other programmes, this year, they find it relevant and relatable, something that hundreds of Filipinos who attended the event definitely enjoyed.
Charie Palisoc is one of the five ladies who made it into the finals night of the event and took home this year’s title of Miss OFW Oman 2019. As the winner, her role is to help Filcosoc in advancing its agenda — create better awareness in the Filipino community in Oman about programmes and events as well as act as its ambassadors in some events.
The competition was hard-fought with almost every aspect judged and critiqued. They have to go through countless costume changes — from casual attires to cultural dress to formal wears — the judging criteria changes.
The question and answer portion for the final three was even tougher and while Kristine Jane Pronto and Levi Aquino were both stunners, the winner Charie proved that she was the perfect package — able to not only maintain her poise and composure but also answer the question and deliver it flawlessly.
“As Miss OFW 2019, I will empower each individual of the Filipino community and encourage them to participate in all the activities geared towards helping them. I will use my voice and become an instrument in communicating that as a people, we also exist,” Palisoc said.
She added that as the winner, she will endeavour to “promote the Filipino culture and use her social media platform to showcase the best of what we have and what we can do as a people.”
The event also included giving of awards to distinguished member of the community as well as raffle draws giving away prizes as spectacular as four days and three nights stay in Armenia among others.