Of Stars and Beauty Queens

I was fresh out of college when Mama Nanie told me to accompany my cousin to an interview at Dole Philippines. I was supposed to be her coach and chaperon to the screening of  Mutya ng Dole 1993. I decided to dress up and look sharp, secretly planning to submit myself to the interview process. There were more than 50 ladies who showed up. I decided to give it a try, thinking that it would be a great avenue to enhance my ability to handle questions. I savored every moment believing that it was a chance of a lifetime.

A month after, Mama Nanie received a phone call about the interview results. Bad news: my cousin did not make it. Good news, she joyfully declared: I made it! I was shocked! All I wanted was to be interviewed by the managers, hoping that they will convince me to apply for a job instead of pursuing a slot in the pageant. Mama, sensing my apprehension, pushed me to go for it! Gipiyungan ko na lang gid kay palangga ko si Mama!

So there I was— Contestant #8. The smallest in the group. The odd girl in the midst of the 7 other contenders who were  titlists, beauty queens in their respective barangays and municipalities. Ang tapang ko!

And then the Big Night came. I walked in high heels. I moved like a pro. I swayed like a queen. I gained momentum for the Question and Answer Portion, my favorite part of the pageant. 17 years have passed but I will never forget how it was like…

Host    : Miss Banting, according to your bio-data, your favorite hobby is stargazing. Does it have anything to do with your height?

Joana : Stargazing as a hobby does not require any height requirement. All you need is a good pair of eyesight.

Host : What I mean is- don’t you wish upon the stars that you are a few inches taller?

Joana : Well, I don’t make my wishes and prayers known to the stars but to the One who made the stars. (At this point, the crowd was in uproar!I paused and I continued…) Besides, small is beautiful!

You saw me? Yes, I was THE smallest in my nursery class.

When the audience broke into a pandemonium after my answer, I felt like I was the tallest among the girls. Who would have thought that the girl whose nose was a laughing stock to her elementary classmates would end up joining a prestigious beauty pageant? Who would have thought that her perspective of beauty would be challenged? Who would have thought that she would end up as 1993 Mutya ng Dole 1st Runner-up?

Oo, ako yang nasa kaliwa na may clip sa buhok! I used to be insecure with my height and my nose. God engineered circumstances that challenged my concept of beauty.

Well, the Star Maker did! God, in his infinite grace and mercy, knew it from the start. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts!  I will always be grateful to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, far above we could ever ask or imagine!

Aside from being 1st Runner-up, Joana was also awarded as Miss Friendship. She received a total cash prize of P18,000 (only P2,000 away from the cash prize received by the Mutya). Over and above the cash reward, she gained a valuable experience that she will cherish for the rest of her life. Thank you, Mama Nanie, for pushing me to get out of my comfort zone. Thank you, Lord, for making me secure in you.

40 thoughts on “Of Stars and Beauty Queens

  1. Ikaw ang Miss Universe ng buhay ko.

    Indeed YOU are BEAUTIFUL in my eyes

    I love you so much!

  2. June says:

    Good item joana…it only shows that beauty is not only the outside physical appearance but the innermost side of the beholder…

    hehe, sakto ta ako english dah! hasta saying…lol

  3. ormanpogi says:

    wow! beauty ka pala ate!!! bongga ka day! love reading this!!!

  4. sheng says:

    I love the story, amazing! Hahaha, ang cute mo nga nung nursery ka, btw, I’d like to ask if you still have a copy or cd or mp3 of Joseph the Dreamer? can I have a copy? Thanks!

  5. ric dedicatoria says:

    this is one of my favorite prestIgious search that i ever seen when Sir Felmar Caneda ,asked me to review the production and some choreographic dance sequence, costume/ outfit designed for Mutya ng DOLE,para magamit sa Bb. Heneral Santos ’95-96 (i guess?) i saw the whole segment on this pageant dozen times reviewing the VHS tape hheheheheh..and yet one of my favorite part is the question and answer, friendship Joana, you stand tall and smarter sa tanong! grabe nakakakilabot ang sagot mo, very confedent, relax and witty dyud ka ever…ikaw na dyud ang gitakna nga pinakakinang na bituin na kumukutikutitap sa kalawakan na nangingibabaw ang sa gabi at araw.. hehehe love you my friend! bitaw oy… dito ako natuto mag-choreograph, sir felmar built me up, trained and taught me..salamat sa ‘yo at kay sir mai both of you inspired me a lot! mwahhhhhhhhhhhhh

  6. ric dedicatoria says:

    this is one of my favorite prestigious pageant that i ever seen, when Sir felmar Caneda asked me a favor to review the production,dance secquence and outfit , props ,costumes to the old VHS tape ” Mutya ng DOLE’ 93″. it was 1995, when sir mai and i were conceptualizing the Bb. heneral santos.i watched this a dozen times, not only to learn the choreography and the dance but to review again and again the QA portion, indeed! i was amazed this small woman name Joana Grace Banting, candidate # 8 ,pagdating sa question and answer portion , nakakakilabot ang sagot! Frindship Joana. ikaw na dyud ang gitakna na bituon nga pinakahayag sa kalawakan na kumukutikutitap sa gabi at araw.. hehehehh asa na lang mi ani puniton ni tita…last part bula dyes lang gihapon. heheh salamat kay sir felmar and to you friendship. both of you, inspired me a lot!,dito ako natutong mag- choreograph ever…mwah! you and sir felmar,build me up!how to stand above the rest and building my self-confidence.. heheheh humble but still the best baga my friend, i love you and you’ll always be my inspiration along the way.

    • Ug asa naman tong VHS tape? Ipadala nako kay ipaconvert ever nako ug i-upload dayon sa YOUTUBE para lingaw ever so much! I love you so much my friend! Who would have thought na magtatagpo ang landas natin ilang taon pagkatapos ng Muya ng Dole episode ng buhay ko. Salamat talaga sa words of affirmation and encouragement mo! Miss you much!

  7. nice A says:

    That’s the stunning beauty that is reflected outside from the beauty perceived inside. This is one of the campaigns I’m advocating for women.

  8. Darnel p. says:

    God created us perfectly..! If what God given to you be proud of it,dont be ashamed of what you have and what you are.
    Like you Ma’am,you have a fighting spirit
    to face any circumstances that comes in your life..
    You’re so gorgeous good luck and

  9. dimple says:


    you really are an inspiration Maam Joana..

    I am happy that I got the chance of working with you..

  10. Mj says:

    So proud to be her student. Cheers!

  11. emi englis says:

    Joanna your story was more than inspiring. Truly, beauty is in itself a divine concept. It crosses boundaries, exceeds human limits and breaks the surface of traditional conventions. I truly salute you for bringing the stereotype to a different dimension. And I thank you for reminding me, once again, that beauty is skin deep. . . . . that true beauty is created by our Divine Creator who gave us not only the stars but also the heavenly realms that is everything eternally beautiful.

    • Thank you for the affirmation, dearest Emi! Our God is a Beautiful God! He is amazing.
      Thank you, dearest Emi, for being God’s manifestation and channel of beauty and creativity.
      You inspire me in countless ways. I am so grateful to be your friend.
      Let us keep influencing our world!

  12. ROMARIE says:

    wow ma’am this story is really great. at first its really hilarious by the words you use and how you relate the story with us but when I paused, reflect and ponder its really moving.. i love it!!! in addition to that whatever title you have it’s very important to remain humble and gregarious. we are created in the image and likeness of God, we are all beautiFULL, full of love. more post!!! 🙂

    • Thank you, Miss Gensan– the ever glamorous Miss Romarie! You rock! What a joy it is to know a person of beauty and a person of substance like you. I pray that you will continue to use your beauty and your giftings for God’s glory and honor!

  13. jinky says:

    beautiful inside and out, ikaw yun, my friend!

  14. sophie says:

    Sus, i clearly remember gyud ani. imagine we walk from the house, lol. around a kilometer walk baya kay pagka gabi-i wala nay tricycle tapos enjoy man maglakaw sauna sa Cannery to watch activities like a search, free movies at the Gymnasium kay daghang tawo mulakaw. but for this Tatay, told us that time we gotta hurry kay si Gigi bata ni Tita Nanie is a contestant. So there we are one of the many who stand, cheered for Gigi (that’s how we fondly call you). Cheers can be deafening when you answered…WOW! it’s really a wow factor!…

  15. mommy sheila says:

    Your beauty pageant experience is a very good inspiration to many girls/women out there. Beauty pageants also remind of my effort to process my daughter’s insecurity because of her brown complexion. God has given her natural morena beauty, but she was always noticed for being brown or morena, instead of being simply noticed as beautiful. This made her feel insecure of her skin color. I showed her beauty queens/contestants (on pictures and those shown on TV) who are of dark/black complexion to affirm her that she doesn’t have to have fair skin to be beautiful.

    Thanks, Joana my dear, for sharing your own experience online – I can use this to help my daughter become the confident person that I want her to be.

  16. rinella paderes says:

    yeah,remember ko ni sya nga story nimo sa akoa when we’re in Sangreha.bitaw,very inspiring na experiences nimo.daghan jud ko na learn from you jo and i really thank God for your life.isa ka sa mga tao nga nakapaduol sa ako sa Ginoo.Continue to be a blessing to others.

  17. Ruel Bantawig-Garces says:

    Hi Friend, now I know kung bakit magkasundo tayo, we both were beauty queen in the past hehehehe …but now prince and princes of CHRIST. I just want you to know, when I saw you then the first time I attended the worship service. I prayed to have you as my spiritual best friend, God did not fail me He gave me ” Mosler Paul & Joana Grace”. Thank you… thank you…. for allowing me to share my life with you guys…. God bless my friend and you’re always be Miss Universe in all decades.

  18. jobelyn cadungog says:

    I’m so lucky that I am one of your students in English1..

  19. Mae says:

    wow!!!You are Good Inside and Out…..I Like you So Much Mam….Thank You For Motivating Me As Your Working Student Before.

    Do yOu Remember This?

    Dearest MAe,

    All Things are Possible With God! He is Able 2 Bring You to greater Heights
    and Wider Perspectives,Be Excited to grow and become better,Let God rule Your Life
    Let Jesus be the Lord of your Life by obeying him everyday.I Am Glad that GOD Brought u to
    my life..

    Shine On!
    Mom Joana,

    Si-navE Ko tylaga Yan Sa CP KO…Jejeje
    Thank You So MuCh MA’am..Mwaah!

  20. Vinna Pagbonocan Boholst says:

    I love that story nay..

    It was so great!!

    Honestly, I become more confident because of you.
    You’re such an inspiration.

    Always be a blessing nay..:)

  21. Michael says:

    Galing mo talaga Ma’am Joana! I salute you!

  22. kaycee vhee m. melloria says:

    wow! ma’am. . you’re so beautiful. i really like it. . . hope i would be given a chance to see you on stage in person.

  23. merry grace says:

    dili jud ko kapoyon ulit2 basa og paminaw ani na story mam..
    makatawa ko na mainspire..
    ive heard dis story since i was in first year sa Ireneo till i graduated in high school upto college sa rmmc..
    at every leadership training tinitingnan ko talaga ang program if nasa speakers c maam banting na ngayon ay lapore na, hoping that i could again listen to maam sharing this inspiring story..:0
    walang nagbago sa feeling after mabasa ko mula sa reaction ko when i first heard this wayback 2006 sa school-based leadership training..:0
    you are a blessing mam..thanks a lot..:)
    Take care..

  24. so cute ni ma’am. 🙂
    brain and beauty.

    God is really good. 🙂

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