Johanna Yulo: Breaking stereotype

Making MUPH a platform to stand vs VAWC
Johanna Yulo, Davao Region’s representative to the prestigious 2024 Miss Universe Philippines competition,  paid a courtesy visit to Davao Oriental Governor Niño Uy on Wednesday, April 3, at the Provincial Capitol.
Johanna Yulo, Davao Region’s representative to the prestigious 2024 Miss Universe Philippines competition, paid a courtesy visit to Davao Oriental Governor Niño Uy on Wednesday, April 3, at the Provincial Capitol. Photo by Provincial Government of Davao Oriental

Breaking stereotypes is becoming increasingly common, exemplified by individuals like Johanna Concepcion Puyod Yulo. 

At 39 years old, she defied expectations by participating in the Miss Universe Philippines 2024 pageant as the representative of the Davao Region.

Yulo stands as a testament to resilience and determination. Having endured the shadows of domestic violence, Johanna sees her participation on the Miss Universe Philippines stage as a profound opportunity for healing and renewal simultaneously.

Not only does Yulo challenge the conventional standards of beauty pageants, but she also champions her advocacy against violence against women and children (VAWC) in the Davao Region, serving as a catalyst for change.

“Aside from being a voice of the voiceless, I would want to give a good influence on those women and children victims of violence. At the same time, be an inspirational peer to these victims that there are always ways to at least recover,” she said.

Her decision to participate in Miss Universe Philippines reflects her deep-seated belief in inclusivity and empowerment, transcending societal norms and embracing motherhood as a source of strength rather than a limitation.  

A 39-year-old Dabawenya, Johanna Yulo, is representing Davao Province in the Miss Universe Philippines 2024 pageant.
A 39-year-old Dabawenya, Johanna Yulo, is representing Davao Province in the Miss Universe Philippines 2024 pageant.Photo by Miss Universe Philippines

“When I learned that the competition had become inclusive and open to all, it felt like breaking barriers for me. Being thirty-nine years old and embracing motherhood concurrently, that's what truly motivated me to participate in Miss Universe. It felt like a gift, an invitation. It's an opportunity that has presented itself to me and to my fellow mothers who dream of joining Miss Universe,” she added. 

Following the lifting of requirements in the MUPH directive in 2023 permitting the inclusion of applicants who are married or have given birth. Thereby enabling national partners to broaden the eligibility criteria in their search for delegates to the forthcoming international competition. 

Yulo views this platform as inclusive, welcoming women of all ages and sizes to share their stories with the world. She believes it's an opportunity for every woman to leave a mark, showcasing the beauty and confidence of Filipinas everywhere.

“Empowerment and the confidence to fully accept oneself, imperfections and all, are essential. If you don't embrace your imperfections, how can you confidently face thousands of people? I, too, have imperfections like stretch marks from giving birth, but these imperfections are also blessings. It's up to us how we choose to accept them,” Johanna noted. 

Yulo is not also safe from bashing, but despite this, she views it as part of the process. For her, at the end of the day, one should recognize that their job is just a job and not take it too seriously, relying on the conditioning of their mind to strengthen their mindset with the support of those around them.

Yulo emphasizes that her children offer positive reinforcement, serving as motivation, while her parents act as pillars of strength throughout the journey. Additionally, she values the prayers of her siblings, considering them reminders of the gifts and blessings in her life. Yulo stresses the importance of not perceiving challenges as competitions, as this mindset can create unnecessary pressure. Instead, she advocates for maintaining grace under pressure.

As the first single mother from the Davao Region to participate in MUPH Johanna's courageous stride ignites conversations and challenges stereotypes. Despite these, she wholeheartedly accepts herself and her imperfections, which enables her to confidently face the scrutiny of the world with grace and resilience. 

Beyond the glitz and glamour, she remains steadfast in her dedication to fostering positive change. Yulo urges women not to lose hope, emphasizing the significance of seeking support during challenging times.

“As someone who has survived and is now serving as a living inspiration, I also aim to impart knowledge and make contributions to our younger generations, particularly to women who are true victims of multiple violence, abuses, and generational trauma. With this platform that has been given to me, I will be able to share and contribute at least what I have learned to them. How I coped and how I stood up again will serve as a guide for them,” she added. AJA, Elle Mari Dela Cuesta, DNSC Intern

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