Pageantry has been a long-standing tradition in which women vie for a title. Some might think it’s a mindless sport that pits women against each other, but it’s a cause that’s a lot bigger than just parading in sparkly gowns. It is about empowering women to take a stand on societal concerns.
Mrs. Cebu-Philippines, a local pageantry organization, is dedicated to producing world-class Cebuana beauty queens. The organization’s goal is to hone exceptional Cebuano women through the standards of the National Pageant System. It helps bring Philippine delegates to different affiliated international pageants, uplifting not just the province but the country as a whole.
For Mary Jade Cabanada Luna, being a contender for Mrs. Cebu-Philippines was an unexpected journey. When she won the title in 2022, she didn’t expect it, as she admitted spending her younger years joining pageants only because she was asked to. This time, she was convinced by Allen Batiller, an eminent “Beauty Queen Maker,” to take a chance and represent the province.
Mary Jade was exposed to pageantry at the young age of three when she won Miss Moalboal. At the time, she didn’t see its significance, and she was discouraged in eighth grade by an adviser who told her that being boyish had no place in pageants.
Circling back to the present, Mary Jade strengthened her resolve in believing in herself and not letting the derivative words of others rob her light. Believing in one’s self is one of the true marks of a beauty queen. People will always have something to say, and they often do just about anything to ensure your downfall. Mary Jade learned that the world can try to knock you down all it wants, but if you hold your head high, your crown will never fall.
Now, as the title holder for Mrs. Cebu-Philippines 2022, she’s taking a stand on issues related to her primary profession as a clinical psychology practitioner. Mary Jade is an external quality assurance coordinator, a college instructor at Cebu Doctors’ University, and a clinical psychology practitioner at Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.
Mary Jade shared that one of her advocacies is to destigmatize mental health issues. Mental health issues often fall on deaf ears in Philippine culture. Resiliency is lauded as a prime characteristic, even in our worst days, which is a daunting thought. Mary Jade wants to proliferate the notion that asking for psychological help is okay, and that not being okay mentally doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.
“Mental health should be given importance in society today,” Mary Jade said. “As a Mrs. Cebu-Philippines title holder for 2022 and a clinical psychology practitioner, it is my absolute goal to provide appropriate interventions to those who need it.”
She also expressed that providing psychological support to children with special needs is a substantial undertaking she wishes to work on. “These children are especially vulnerable and need all the support they can get.”
Mary Jade proves how a beauty queen must have a heart that yearns to help others. She is an impeccable example that shows how pageantry goes beyond elaborately picked costumes and performances. It is about taking a stand to make the world a better place for all. S