When you say the word pageant, you think of beautiful, statuesque women parading around on swimsuits or slinky evening gowns with perfectly coiffed hair and a pearly white smile.
The Search for W.I.N.N.E.R.S doesn’t celebrate beauty in the same way as the typical pageants.
The Search for W.I.N.N.E.R.S is unique, it celebrates beauty and strength from within.
I am not usually a fan of pageants. I don’t like the pomp and pageantry much. However, I can truly say I am a huge fan of this one as I come away from it feeling inspired, and more often than not teary eyed from the stories I hear and the extreme happiness I witness. It is a pageant that makes a HUGE difference.
For the third year in a row, the Mandaue Chamber, in partnership with the Mandaue City government, scour the barangays throughout the city for women who can be considered as community role models. This project celebrates women who fight poverty on a daily basis by becoming micro-entrepreneurs. Instead of succumbing to hopelessness, these women created their own little businesses in order to support their families. Through their hard work, perseverance and focus, their little businesses managed to house, clothe, educate and feed their children. Not only that, these women managed to grow their little businesses, slowly but surely, as they siphon all their initially small earnings back into their businesses.
All the contestants that are chosen deserve to be honored for what they have accomplished given how little they had to begin with. This is the chance to celebrate the unspoken heroes who rely on their own sweat, blood and tears to raise themselves from poverty instead of relying on handouts. They are hidden like gems throughout the city.
One representative per barangay is chosen by the Mandaue Chamber board and all 20 women start their month-long journey of growth and learning.
In this year’s batch of contestants: there was a self-taught mechanic who took over the business when her husband fell ill; there are sari-sari store owners who started with a small selection of goods for sale and slowly increased their lineup of goods as their capital grew; there was a home-made jewelry makers who sold P30.00 to P100.00 items from out of her living room; there were ‘puso’-makers who make the uniquely Cebuano ready to eat rice dish by the thousands to distribute to their clients.
In order to help them along with their businesses, the contestants are given training on how to make a business plan and how to use and open bank accounts. The women are also brought to the offices of all their sponsors where they receive plant tours, seminars on how to grow their businesses or receive specific training like cooking.
The journey doesn’t stop there. All of these women devoted their lives to their businesses to make their family’s lives better. As a result, they don’t spare any thought for themselves. To give these women a much deserved treat, the organizers allocated a day just for them. The women are given a day at the spa for pampering and brought to the mall to “shop” for a complete outfit, from head to toe, for free.
On pageant day, the women take the ramp by storm with a confidence that was heartwarming to see. Their life stories are presented on video as they are modelling on stage one by one so that the audience will know what their lives are like day-to-day.
The top 10 women are chosen based on their submitted life stories, their business plans formulated from the trainings and other interactions between the contestants and the judges through the course of the entire month. The winners are chosen based on the question and answer portion in addition to their previously earned score.
This is why the Search for W.I.N.N.E.R.S. is not just like any pageant. This pageant celebrates the working woman who refuses to give in to despair that comes with poverty and serves as an inspiration for all women who find themselves in a similar situation. In this world where news of corruption, disasters and crime outnumber good news, watching this pageant was like a breath of fresh air.
This pageant changes lives, and I’m not just talking about the contestants. I’m talking about anyone who can draw inspiration and hope from watching these remarkable women… that includes me.
Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Search for W.I.N.N.E.R.S.!
Congratulations also to the organizers of this worthy project! Looking forward to watching it again next year!