A HALF-INDIAN, half-Filipina beauty was crowned as this year’s Miss Cebu.

Incidentally, it was also the 20th birthday of Namrata Neesha Murjani, a biology student from the Cebu Doctors’ University, who wowed the judges with her gown, intelligence and community organization activities for the street children.

She bested 11 other beauties, including first runner-up Therese Christine Llamada, 19, who was the only one among the five finalists who did not take a breather in answering the final question.

It was probably the most difficult question raised in a Miss Cebu contest, as four of the five finalists had to pause for a few seconds before answering the final question:

If you were to become the third lady president of the Philippines, what would be your

agenda in the first 110 days?

“My first agenda will be for the street children. My family and I are practicing a lot of community activities,” was Murjani’s winning answer.

Murjani’s long-sleeved, aquamarine gown with a sexy illusion of a plunging neckline at the front was also adjudged the best gown of the night. She won a prize for that, as did designer Cary Santiago, who was named best designer.

During the first round of the question-and-answer part of the program, each of the contestants had to pick one of the questions prepared by a fellow contestant.

Tourism

Murjani got the question raised by Miss Friendship Jehanne Frances Dy: “What sector in the field of tourism would you like to improve and how?”

She didn’t answer the question immediately, but said that she wants to focus on the environment. She pointed out that the acronym for Mother Earth, ME, means that working for green tourism should start with the individual.

The mestiza contestant’s question was not easy as well and gave Miss Photogenic Marivee Ann Velasquez a challenging time. “If you travel in the future and discover that Miss Cebu 2013 is a transgender, what would you do in the present time?”

Velasquez said she would tell the transgender candidate to join a competition in the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender) community, but stressed she has nothing against them.

First runner-up Llamada did not have an extra second to think when she answered the final question, mentioning “preservation of nature” as her agenda for the first 100 days. She said that the Miss Cebu competition took her to adventure trips in Cebu’s “forests” that are not known to a lot of people.

She said Cebu’s beauty took her breath away.

Prizes

Despite fumbling on her final question, Maria Gigante, 19, was crowned second runner-up. She said she would promote Cebu through social media and traditional media if she were to become the third female president of the Philippines. She stuttered and paused, but tried to recover with a smile and some laughter.

Third runner-up is 21-year-old interior design student Patricia Ann Estuart, who said she would organize a seminar for her countrymen if she were the president. That way, she would change the Filipino mind-set of “non-ownership”.

Ely Rose Apple Angcon, 21, who wants to focus on gender equality in her first 100 days as president, completed Murjani’s court. She was also awarded Kapamilya Star of the Night.

All five ladies won a free trip to Hong Kong and the fourth through second runners-up took home P30,000 each. Llamada will take home P40,000 while Murjani is P50,000 richer and will also have a free trip to Las Vegas.

Runners-up should not take their positions lightly as a good number of ladies that did not take home the crown got international recognitions, like Rizzini Alexis Gomez, crowned Miss Tourism International 2012, and Vanessa Amman, the 2012 Miss World (Philippines) Second Princess.

Gomez was the first runner-up in Miss Cebu 2009 and Amman, second runner-up in Miss Cebu 2011.

Birthday

Win or lose, Murjani would have had a celebration anyway as her father, Dave, prepared a surprise party for her in a room he booked at the Waterfront Hotel, the same place where the competition was held.

In a light moment after being announced as the winner, the Sinulog beat was played.

While Sinulog dancers pranced on stage, Murjani gave the audience a glimpse of one of her talents, dancing.

In between contests, the audience was entertained by performers from Resorts World.

Last night might have been the night of the 12 contestants of Miss Cebu but Cebuano designers and artists were promoted as well. Each contestant wore ocean-themed gowns by famed Cebuano designers.

Earlier in the contest, four designers showcased a collection inspired by the paintings of Cebuano artists.