IN deciding to "cancel" the annual Miss Cebu beauty pageant, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña didn't cite the usual objections to beauty pageants.

He didn't say it tends to "objectify" women, put undue pressure on them to look beautiful, focus on physical appearance (ugly women never win) and ignore other qualities.

Tomas cited only these reasons: waste of money and it's being "elitist."

The city tourism office and Sinulog organizers should be able to present a cost-against-benefit study to the mayor. The yearly P200,000 to P300,000 the city spends on Miss Cebu is measly for world-wide promotion. In its 32-year existence, Miss Cebu titlists won 10 national and two world titles and Miss Cebu alumnae won 13 national and three world titles.

Miss Cebu's brand has leaped from the Sinulog stage to international limelight. Tomas wants Cebu City to be #1 livable and affluent city? A cultural component of that includes the beauty pageant.

A pity that Tomas doesn't see the returns from the project, which he lumps with other "wasteful" cash-outs by his predecessor. And Miss Cebu has been there since 1984, which includes his past terms as mayor.

Miss Cebu as a brand sells the province and its cities. It may be co-presented by the local governments in the islands and their respective tourism bureaus.

Let go

Or Cebu City may let it go to the private sector. Elsewhere, pageant franchise is usually owned by a non-government group or individual to raise money for charities.

As to the mayor's notion that it is elitist and is only for the rich, Tomas needs only to look at the skills required in sports that a beauty pageant also demands: "the same goal-setting, can-do attitude and performing under pressure."

Like sports, Miss Cebu boosts community spirit and draws everyone, the rich and the poor, as competitors or as fans and audience.

(paseares@gmail.com)