Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bilbiling Mandaluyong 2014

I've been wanting to watch the annual Bilbiling Mandaluyong beauty pageant since I interviewed Leslie Ann Canlas, the title holder back in 2011. I planned to attend the following year, but I got swamped with work and ended up having this last-minute sole searching adventure. As a result, I found it doubly hard to get up from bed that afternoon. Good thing, I spotted this tweet and got reminded of my dream to watch this beauty pageant live. What's more, I found fellow willing audience in my former colleagues when I posted my inquiry about the event whereabouts! Yay!

We were told that the venue can get too crowded, so we aimed to be first in line. At 05:20pm, the gym was rather empty and we had the luxury to choose our seats. Since the bleachers were divided into baranggays, we, as mere outsiders, were hoping we won't get thrown out or something. The show was supposed to start at 07:00pm, but the judges started arriving around 08:40pm! 

With my friends and fellow early birds Ivy and Chad (before the event marshalls confiscated the balloons and tarps)

When the candidates started rocking the stage at 09:00pm, I found my energy again and clapped away. It was such an awesome feeling to see 27 plus size Pinays in midriff-baring tops (not because they're going to step on the timbangan ng bayan) with proud smiles in their faces. Seriously, I felt my tears well up!

The crowd's reaction was wild and deafening. At first, I was determined to know if it were cheers or jeers. From my vantage point, it was easy to tell. But halfway the program, I reminded myself that I went the distance to enjoy the moment, to support fellow body love advocates, NOT to allow the laughs get into me. But somehow it did. We're still far from becoming an accepting, non-judgmental nation! 

Still, I can't ignore the possibility that events like this may serve as springboard for social change. We can't expect other people to accept and laud people like us right away, but exposure to belly rolls, stretch marks, cellulites and other "flaws" could go a long way. And I intend to patiently sit and watch for this to come into fruition. 

The talent portion would have to be my second favorite! Sadly, there were candidates who conformed to the notions about us (ex. making lechon references in their dance number, having low-energy performance). But it was a delight to see a candidate who shook her booty very well for her own take of gimme gimme, candidates who can give showgirls a run for their money for the amount of lifting and flying executed and a candidate with sing-and-dance power when everyone else grooved to the music. You can't blame me here; fat women are known to be amazing singers. Look at Adele, Radha, Janice Javier, Frenchie Dy and so many others!

Speaking of amazing singers, I'd have to say THIS is my favorite part! Hearing my childhood hero sing my favorite song back in the days! It was so surreal I can't hold my camphone still. 

I must admit I was kinda disappointed with the long gown competition. I was hoping there will be 27 different designs that will somehow give us a reflection of each candidate's personality or 27 ways to flaunt those curves. But they all ended up wearing the same design (or so it appears to me) in different colors. Plus, there was this candidate who, during her turn to ramp, flashed an apple out of her gown. Yeah, another lechon reference. If she were trying to be hilarious, sorry, but I don't find it an uplifting representation of us. I mean, people calling us names is a reflection of who they are, but reinforcing or allowing them to call us names during a body-positive event is another. Or perhaps I'm being sensitive about it. Sorry if I didn't get the humor.

It was a relief that the question-and-answer portion attempted to extract bits and pieces from the candidates' personal lives, views and journey to acceptance. I felt - and I still do -proud and happy that these girls know their worth and they found a good venue to shout it out to the world. 

And the winners are...

Congratulations to all the winners! In fact, there were so many special awards and cool prizes, I didn't get to track them all. But I recall that, if the Top 5 winners, get to lose weight just in time for the next year's coronation, they'll receive extra P50,000 in cash. And the organizers take pride in offering this even before the Biggest Loser did. Last year's beauty queens and their weight loss story didn't get airtime, so I can only guess it wasn't part of the programme.

Sorry, but this slim-down prize contradicts to their objective to celebrate curves. Body mass index (BMI) doesn't equate to fitness and neither is wellness restricted to physical aspect alone. In my humble opinion, being happy with oneself is more important than being conscious about the figures. Besides, being happy leads to finding out what's best for your body and how to achieve it. Thank you! *waves right hand like a beauty queen*

In case you missed this event, I shall leave you with this clip that sums up the beauty contest. Feel free to share what you think. 


  1. We really do have along way to go. I saw how the media treated this pageant and I wasn't happy about it. When will they learn that plus sized women are not mascots to makexfun at? I wish women and girls like me had a true pageant that actually celebrates who we are without the lechon references and snarky comments.

    1. True. For now, I'd like to celebrate small joys like how this pageant allows plus size Pinays to show their talent and personalities. I'm sure there will come a time when we don't have to hear mockery and explain ourselves.

      You think pageants like this would be better if fellow plus size men and women are the attendees? Yung not open for public?

  2. i'm not a fan of these kind of beauty pageants. by kind I mean the unconventional definition of beauty (body type or gender). sometimes cheering and jeering are being interchanged. I give credit and respect to the candidates, I also can't help but feel bad when the crowd typecasts them or gets too judgmental. instead of celebrating who they are, they are being laugh at by what they are.

    1. I've always been intrigued how this pageant goes since I've always been hopeful it's a body-positive event. You are right, the candidates deserve a warm applause for their efforts and dedication. Yun lang, may judgmental pa rin talaga. Thanks for the visit!

  3. a big round of applause to these beautiful ladies! i envy their confidence. they deserve so much more respect.

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  5. i would like to ask po kung pano sumali, cause im really interested po kasi. thank you po