Fiona Patricia S. Escandor recounts the fairytale run of Neesha Murjani to the Miss Cebu 2013 crown
HER parents weren’t expecting her for another three days. But on the eve of the feast of the Santo Niño in 1993, an expectant Judy Murjani was rushed to the hospital. Her husband Dave, who was at the procession that time, followed straight away, overwhelmed by the turn of events.
It was a pleasant surprise nonetheless, and at 7 p.m. on the third Sunday of January that year, Namrata Neesha Lucero Murjani was born.
It’s easy to believe that everything has been laid out for the lady born on Sinulog day, because on the eve of her 20th birthday, Neesha was crowned Miss Cebu 2013.
While she couldln’t have asked for a bigger birthday present, Neesha had to remind herself that her path to the Jan. 16 coronation never was a smooth one.
Her first pageant hardly landed her on the headlines, and she even recalled how her classmates used to bully her because she was overweight and is dark-skinned.
“I have dreamed of becoming a beauty queen ever since people told me I can’t be one,” she said. “People called me names. It reached the point that I would cry everyday and I wondered why I was born when people would just treat me like that.”
But her family’s support, especially her mom’s, has been a huge help, she said.
“I knew that if I took it (the negativity) seriously, I would only end up pitying myself more,” she said, “My mom also taught me to be positive always, to be a fighter, to stand up for what I believe in, and to follow my dreams.”
From being the one always asked to take the photos—because her peers didn’t want her to “ruin” the shot—Neesha has become the darling of photographers, thanks to her goddesses’ physique and features.
Her transformation didn’t happen overnight, though. In her first pageant, Miss Mandaue 2012, Neesha didn’t reach the top five because she failed to nail down the question and answer segment.
“I took that as a challenge, and saw it (public speaking) as something I can improve on,” Neesha said.
She studied tutorials online and participated in Toastmasters activities. Her friends were just as supportive. Whenever they‘d meet up, they would quiz the aspiring beauty queen on random issues.
On Miss Cebu coronation night, Neesha was exuding grace and confidence. Clad in an aquamarine Cary Santiago gown, she braved the runway and even danced along with guest performers during the production number.
It wasn’t an overt sense of composure that prompted her to dance, however.
“When I’m nervous, I usually just dance it out,” Neesha later admitted, saying she was nervous the entire time.
In the final round, Neesha was faced with the question: “If you were to become the third lady president, what would be your agenda in the first 110 days?”
“At first, I was confused,” Neesha shared. “But I realized, in those 110 days it’s not practical to have a big project, so I chose to do what I already do everyday. I chose a project for the street children because it’s something that I’ve already been practicing with my family.”
A biology major at Cebu Doctors’ University, Neesha also added that she dreams of becoming a doctor to underprivileged children in communities deprived of health care.
The pre-pageant activities, such as meeting with community leaders, also played a part in pushing her to her dream of helping others. Neesha cited the city’s projects for senior citizens as one which inspired her.
“The past three months have been great,” she said. “I learned a lot from the seminars we attended and I was able to create friendships with my fellow candidates. In the future I can look back and say how fortunate I was to be part of it.”
“If it’s your dream to be part of Miss Cebu, or any pageant for that matter, then go for it,” Neesha said. Taking cue from her own experience, she added: “And don’t let anyone hold you back.”