London, England. The crowd inside the ExCeL Arena was very rapturous. Flags from all over the world were unfurled from the distinctive sky blue crossed Greek colors to the converging hues of the South African banner. It was Miss World 2014 and the pageant came back to its home city.
While each candidate was cheered from the audience side in various decibels, no one was cheered more loudly than our very own Miss Philippines Valerie Weigmann. Someone even said that it was the Aranetization of the ExCeL Arena, an obvious reference to the Araneta Stadium which is home to an annual gathering of loud and raucous Filipino pageant fans. But since it is about Miss World, it was more apropos to call it as the MOA-ization of the ExCeL Arena for after all Miss World Philippines’ home is the MOA Arena.
Whatever one may call it, it was very evident that the largest of cheers came from Filipino fans. They came in droves from the Philippines and from the rest of Europe where there is a sizable Filipino diaspora. Even the local candidate has to vacillate the title of being the crowd favorite.
However, the cheers were there but the odds were not. Valerie Weigmann came into the Miss World 2014 competition with virtually no chance whatsoever to win the crown. The reason? After 2002, no Miss World candidate has ever advanced to any stage of the competition if her immediate predecessor won the crown. Ironically, and sad to say, Valerie’s jinx was Megan Young’s 2013 victory. Despite this hard and painful truth, Valerie trudged on. She was left out in most of the challenges and competitions. Fans were aghast that her shapely body did not even made it to at least the Top 20 of the Beach Fashion contest. Her yellow belle of the ball Michael Cinco gown was ignored in the World Designer Award. Her statuesque figure did not made it to the shortlist of Top Model. There were some bright spots. Valerie never ran out of moxie. She was a fighter. She made it to the Top 10 of the Beauty with A Purpose Award which is the centerpiece of Miss World pageant. Valerie was also a contender in the People’s Choice vote. Day’s before the finals night, the big question was – will Valerie suffer the same fate of Yu Weiwei, Gabriela Ferrari, Erin Cummins, Larissa Marie Dalli, Kseniya Shipilova, Mei Yan Ling and many more?
As we all know by now, Valerie broke that curse. For the first time in a long time, a candidate whose immediate predecessor won the Miss World crown made it to the short list. When Valerie was called as one of the Top 25 there was an electrifying and deafening cheers in the Arena as if it was Manila and not London. It was a hurrah way louder than the cheers that Megan received in Bali when she was crowned Miss World.
Indeed, Valerie should be honored for her courage, determination and nerves of steel for not succumbing to the pressure of expectations. Her Top 25 finish was a feat in itself. While Megan’s success was zenith of Philippine glory at Miss World, Valerie’s achievement was a symbol of Filipino resilience. For it was Megan who said that despite the odds, the Filipinos keep on fighting.