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It’s amazing how pageants have become such a mainstream thing nowadays. Watching people get glued to their screens, cheering for their pambato candidates is very reminiscent of the glory days of Manny Pacquiao, when the whole Philippines would stop whatever they were doing to watch his fights before he dove into (questionable) politics. But only a few people know how hard it is to actually join one of those competitions and what really goes on behind the pageant curtains. Luckily, host and pageant-winning beauty, Clarise Perez is glad to give us a tour through her life. Enjoy this intimate glimpse, gentlemen!

It would seem like a lot of our other models also join pageants in their free time. What makes joining so appealing to you girls?

It really helps with our self-esteem. You see, I was very introverted before I started participating in pageants. At least for me, joining pageants helps me get to know myself more and come to terms with my strengths and weaknesses so I know what to work on to get better.

How long have you been participating in pageants?

While I’ve been joining ever since I was a teenager, joining national pageants is on a whole other level from what I was used to before. I used to win teen pageants all the time, but when I started joining national pageants, I would only make it to the finals.

What would you say was different about it?

The contestants for one. The women who joined the national pageants were all ladies in their own right. They didn’t seem like they could be unnerved by anything and could handle any situation with poise and elegance. They were all trained by their own camps (see: agencies in beauty pageants) and it’s really hard for me to compete with that.

What sort of training have you undergone?

Most of what I know is self-taught. I did learn how to walk for ramps at school and I sometimes receive advice from my makeup artists, ha ha!

You said you were introverted, what exactly about pageants helped you overcome your shyness?

I think it was the people I became friends with during the contests. At first, I would be really shy when they came up to talk to me but after a while, it would turn out that getting to know them was the right choice because they were really fun and interesting people. Now, getting to know new people at pageants has become one of my favorite parts of joining!

So does that mean you’ve become Miss Congeniality now?

Ha ha! I don’t know about that, but I have started being more willing to talk to people but it still takes a bit for me to really open up to them.

So what can we actually talk to you about so that you’ll open up to us?

I think talking about politics right now is extremely stressful so I tend to stray away from those kinds of topics. You can talk to me about books and music and other people’s love lives, ha ha!

Oh, so you’re that kind of girl!

No, ha ha! I just enjoy hearing and reading about romantic stuff. I love young adult lit because reading about young love and “the chase” makes me relive the first time I fell in love.

That’s sweet! So besides participating in pageants and doing modelling, what are you up to these days?

During the summer, I have this annual hosting gig at Camaya Coast in Mariveles, Bataan. I go there every weekend to host festivals and keep people entertained while they are on their vacations.

And you said you were introverted!

I am! But you can’t really say no to free vacations! I don’t really go for the pay, but rather for the chance to unwind and at the same time work on how to be more comfortable around people.

Sorry, but can we ask what actually makes you uncomfortable with crowds? You seem to handle yourself well.

I have a lot of insecurities. I wasn’t even sure I could go through with our shoot today. My upper body isn’t as well-endowed as most girls, but I’ve learned how to embrace those parts of me.

That’s awesome! Hope you can host us at one of your festivals one day!

Yeah! I’m there from January to April every weekend. I make sure all the people have fun and enjoy their stay at the beach.

Partying at the beach does seem like fun, but doesn’t that cause a lot of damage to the environment?

Sometimes the party-goers really don’t care about where they throw their trash and how messed up the bay becomes. I would usually tell them by reminding them to pick up after themselves and keep in mind that we are just visitors. The place needs to be respected. 

So let’s say that you win Miss Tourism and we asked you something like, “Tourism is a big part of what keeps Bataan’s economy alive and flourishing, but it’s at the expense of the province’s environment. What compromise would you suggest so that the province could still cater to tourists, but still be able to protect the integrity of Bataan’s ecosystem?

Well, if I become this year’s Miss Tourism Philippines, I would promote eco-tourism. Promoting eco-tourism and instilling the mindset of responsible traveling throughout the whole province would really help maintain its natural beauty. Also, any infrastructures like theme parks and resorts should not harm the coral reefs and/or pollute the ocean because taking care of the wildlife is also important to taking care of the ecosystem. Thank you, ha ha!

Producer Mary Rose A. Hogaza  Photographer Shaira Luna  Stylist Debra Bernales  Makeup Cats Del Rosario for Shu Uemura  Hair Gian Carlo Sipaco  Lingeries from Velvet Rose, 5F Shangrila Plaza Mall  Chokers from TSchokers (@ts.chokers)

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