Mutya pageant goes to Aurora

FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo
Updated July 29, 2009 12:00 AM

This year's Mutya ng Pilipinas search's pre-pageant and grand finals (on Aug. 9) will be held in Aurora Province with its scenic spots as backdrop. The theme is Aurora: The Beauty Adventure in the Pacific.

Aside from being a rich source of showbiz potentials, the Mutya has also become a fertile breeding ground for international beauty queens. Kirby Ann Basken, 2006 Mutya ng Pilipinas-Asia Pacific International, is a good example. Born to a Norwegian father and a Filipino mother, Kirby represented the Filipino community in Scandinavia in the Mutya 2006 search, winning the title and three special awards: Best in Long Gown, Calayan Best Skin and Miss Philippine International Hairdressers Association (PIHA). She competed in that year's Miss Intercontinental Beauty Pageant in the Bahamas and emerged one of the Top 12.

Then, she represented Norway in the 2007 Miss Universe contest in Mexico City, competing with two other candidates of Filipino lineage, Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Anna Theresa Licaros and Miss Germany Angelina Glass.

The growing roster of delegates from Filipino communities around the world further enhances the tourism initiative of Aurora Gov. Bella Angara-Castillo. Four of those representing Overseas Filipino communities in this year's search are Rene McHugh, Mutya-East Coast USA; Samantha East, Mutya-Eastern Canada; Nadine Grace Halvorsen, Mutya-Norway; and Rashel Piazza, Mutya-North California.

According to Funfare's "beauty expert" Felix Manuel (currently working as a nurse in New York), he is part of the team that groomed Rene (full name: Rene Rosario Aquino McHugh) who is a recent graduate from Woodbridge High School. The 5'7"/34-24-34 stunner is into track-and-field and was the captain of her school's cheering squad. She was last year's runner-up in the Miss Teen Philippines-USA contest, one of USA's Top Five Prettiest 2008, Most Promising Model 2008 and is the reigning Miss Philippines-USA Tourism.

(Felix said that Rene would like to thank the following for making her dream a reality: Engineer Danilo Pagsambugan, Manny Agbanlog of Filipino Times and Global Pinoy magazine, photographer Dominique James and Garden State Travel & Tours president Vid Figuerras.)

Incidentally, one of the judges in this year's search is Malgorzata Rozniecka who was Miss Model of the World 2000 (crowned in Istanbul) and Miss International 2001 (in Tokyo).