Fiona Patricia S. Escandor reveals what makes Miss Tourism International Rizzini Gomez glow
THE room lit up when she walked in, her beauty queen’s aura drawing awe from an excitable stylist who needed to say out loud: “Lahi ra gyud ang glow basta naa na’y international title (What difference having an international title makes to one’s aura)!”
Despite her ascent in the global stage, reigning Miss Tourism International Rizzini Alexis Gomez remains grounded, the same engaging lady who would go out of her way to ask you how you’re doing.
Crowned on New Year’s Eve in Malaysia, the five-foot-nine Rizzini, a registered nurse, got off to a flying start to 2013.
As part of her duties as reigning Miss Tourism International and Mutya Ng Pilipinas Tourism 2012, she will be traveling extensively all over Southeast Asia and the entire country
First thing on her calendar is tomorrow’s Sinulog Grand Parade, where she plays a major role.
“Just the other week, I shared to my dad, ‘How I wish I can dance in the Sinulog, whatever part. It will be my panata (pledge) to the Señor Santo Niño, and also to give thanks to him for all my blessings,” said the 22-year-old Rizzini.
Her prayers were answered, as the beauty queen received an invitation from the Sinulog Foundation to not only take part in the parade, but to stand as Queen Juana in the finale, a role reserved for prominent figures in Cebu.
The daughter of ex-professional basketball player Ruel Gomez spent her childhood in Manila, but they transferred to Cebu during her teens.
“Back then, we would come to Cebu only for summer vacation and Sinulog,” she said, gathering her earliest memories of the festival.
“And during Sinulog, I remember we used to stay in that area behind CIC Main, have a picnic there and then catch the fireworks at night,” she added, referring to the open grounds of Cebu Business Park, adjacent to the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion campus.
After moving her family to Cebu, Rizzini’s dad, a former stalwart of the Alaska Aces in the Philippine Basketball Association, was appointed coach of the University of Cebu varsity team. Not surprisingly, the lovely Rizzini became the team’s muse.
At one league ceremony, little did Rizzini know that fashion designer and model handler Danny Booc was on the lookout and spotted her, then a 15-year-old stunner, radiating potential.
“I was untrained and I was just standing there. Then out of nowhere, Danny just started telling me what to do,” Rizzini recalled. “He told me to put my hands on my hips, and he started coaching me.”
Shortly after her stint as a muse in the Cesafi league, Rizzini joined Ozar Modeling Agency under Danny’s mentorship and participated in a string of pageants.
Rizzini was hailed Miss Mandaue in 2008, named first runner-up of Miss Cebu in 2009, and became Aliwan Festival Queen in 2010. Her first national title was the Mutya Ng Pilipinas Tourism in 2012.
Throughout her three-week stay in Malaysia, Rizzini proudly wore apparel created by some of Cebu’s top designers: Edwin Alba, Dexter Alazas, Danny Booc, Dino Lloren, Cary Santiago and Phillip Tampus. At the coronation night, she bagged the best in evening gown award, donning a Phillip Tampus creation.
“I really thought it would be anyone,” she said. “All candidates were on the same footing. Everyone was beautiful, smart and talented. And when they called ‘Miss Philippines,’ it was like my heart skipped a beat!”
The following day, Jan. 1, Rizzini felt like she was dreaming. A flurry of activities followed her coronation: a New Year’s Eve countdown, a photo shoot with her court, a dinner party with the pageant’s executives—the night went by like a blur.
“Did that really happen?” Rizzini asked herself the moment she woke up the next morning. Seeing the crown and sash on her bedside table settled her doubts.
In chasing a dream, Rizzini draws inspiration from her parents, who taught her the value of hard work.
“I have always been a big believer in success through education,” she said. “As a
student, I was focused on my studies and I also love reading books.”
Rizzini graduated with honors from the University of Cebu and took a hiatus from the limelight to prepare for the nursing board exams in 2011.
Growing up in a tight-knit family, Rizzini revealed that being away from loved ones was the biggest hurdle in her quest for the crown. Only her younger brother Kim was with her on coronation night in Kuala Lumpur. Her dad was in Cebu, while her mom and other brother were in New York.
“My parents watched through live streaming, and they kept calling each other because it (live feed) kept freezing and disconnecting,” Rizzini said.
Her family missed the question and answer portion, where she was asked: “What is the most important festival in the Philippines and what makes it unique?” The question couldn’t have been more timely.
“It (online connection) got back just when they were about to announce the winner and then got cut again. When the feed finally returned, I was already wearing the crown—and my parents had no idea what was happening,” Rizzini said, amused.
Rizzini’s rise wasn’t without pitfalls, though, like not making the cut in pageants she had initially tried out for. But just as a gem becomes polished with friction, Rizzini reached her full potential by going through trials.
“My parents have taught me that if you have a dream, face it and hope for the best.
Always keep your feet on the ground and never forget to pray,” she said.
And in a tone so hopeful and with an expression so radiant, Rizzini added: “Faith always saves you.”