Updated: Oct 28, 2020
By: AnnaMarie Wong
Ms. Philippines is an annual beauty pageant held by District 3 of the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue. It was started to showcase the beauty of the undergraduate Filipina women in the community and their love for their Filipino culture.
This major event was hosted on January 25 by Rutgers-Newark Filipino Student Association in the Newark Symphony Hall. This year’s theme was centered around the national flower of the Philippines: the Sampaguita, which carries deep meanings of love, fidelity and devotion. The evening showcased dedicated contestants who displayed how the flower’s values which blossomed into the Filipina women they are today.
The Student Appreciation and Recognition of Adelphi Pinoys (SARAP) always gets involved in the Ms. Philippines pageant because we are a part of an organization called FIND, INC. under District 3, which consists of many Filipino clubs on college campuses in New York City, Long Island and Northern New Jersey.
SARAP was represented by Nisha Patel, a sophomore nursing major aspiring to become a pediatric nurse. She said her Filipino-Indian American roots provide a unique perspective to life that she values daily. Her goals are to one day participate in International Alert’s mission to end violence in the Philippines, especially issues relating to animosity toward Filipino-Muslims.
Patel said her passions include dancing, weightlifting and rock climbing. You can find her on campus giving tours as an admissions ambassador, studying in the library with friends or “being first in line for a school event promising free food.”
“I would like to thank my family, friends and SARAP for believing in me throughout this process,” she said. “I hope to not only prove how powerful Filipino women are, but to inspire everyone to advocate for the beliefs that they stand for.”
The pageant consisted of three parts: evening gown walk, culture and talent. After each contestant presented their performance, the top five candidates had to answer a question given by the panel of judges. Patel did her walk to an empowering Lizzo song called “Water Me” wearing a beautiful rose gold gown.
Patel’s cultural skit was about the unfair treatment of Filipino-Muslims compared to the treatment of Filipino-Catholics, which is the “norm,” with a focus on how both can be brought together with the understanding that they are the same because they are Filipino.
Patel’s talent portion showcased a variety of dancing skills such as a Filipino cultural dance based on a festival in the Philippines called Maskara, a lovely Indian cultural dance, and finally a bit of her hip-hop dancing skills.
This pageant took weeks to prepare over winter break. Patel and SARAP members spent a lot of time in the Performing Arts Center coming up with dance routines and perfecting the walk and costume changes. While Patel did not make the top five, she still did an amazing job in showcasing her cultural roots and for representing Adelphi and SARAP in the best way possible.
Nicole Magpantay, a junior computer science major who attended the event, said, “I felt like a proud mom watching Nisha throughout the whole pageant. I love seeing our members showcase their talents on stage and witnessing how they’re becoming more confident will make a huge difference for them.”