The night of revelry last December 18, 2015 is not your usual Christmas party. Although there’s an abundance of sumptuous feast prepared by the volunteers, and the juiciest lechon, the night was made more special through a showcase of pageantry and volunteerism. Yes, the night sparkled as distinguished guests, sponsors, people living with HIV (PLHIV), affected families, significant others, Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PAFPI) Board of Trustees, officers, and staff come together to celebrate the 18 years of unwavering commitment to the HIV and AIDS advocacy.
“This is the third year that we hold Miss PAFPI as part of our anniversary and Christmas party celebration. The pageant was conceptualized and organized by our staff and volunteers. They really made this happen,” tells Joshua Formentera, PAFPI President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our volunteers are fond of pageants, for obvious reasons, but it is also a way for them to overcome self-stigma since most of our participants or contestants are PLHIVs themselves,” he happily shares.
He further explains that with the theme ‘Moving For a Better PAFPI 2016’, the pageant for a cause also aims to unify the volunteers and advocates to help curb the alarming number of HIV in the Philippines.
“The night is also a celebration to unite the HIV advocates to have a new vigor that could help them intensify their campaigns on spreading HIV awareness and education, hence curbing the spread of HIV.” Formentera further explains that the pageant also boost the morale of the contestant’s and audience that there is a good life waiting for them after knowing of their HIV status.
Eight contestants representing the Philippines, Nicaragua, USA, Trinidad & Tobago, Taiwan, Colombia, Spain and Egypt all paraded in their glamorous and highly creative national costume. And just like any other pageant, there’s also the casual wear, long gown and of course, the much awaited question and answer portion.
“The contestants really exerted much effort in their national costume. We have a contestant who is an interior design student and he was really creative in using the local materials to create one interesting ensemble. Other contestants shelled out their own money to rent gorgeous gowns, while others were helped out by their sponsors,” Formentera proudly shares.
The special awards were also given for the Face of the Night and the contestant who fared well on the catwalk, which further intensified the anticipation for the Miss PAFPI 2015. And Alas! Miss Colombia was called for the second runner up spot, Miss Spain for the first, and Miss Egypt as Miss PAFPI 2015. And just like other pageantry, the Miss PAFPI 2015 crowning and walk was met with excitement, cheers and high spirits despite the light drizzle of rain.
“The rain did not dampen the spirits of our contestants and the guests really stayed put,” Formentera happily shares. He also wishes to extend his gratitude to the judges Dr. Reynaldo H. Imperial, Professor Laufred I. Hernandez, Professor Tj Smith, Ms. Heizel Mainar, and HIV advocate and activist Mr. Robert Bulger.
“Thank you to our Board of Trustee Carlo Alcala who flew all the way from Zamboanga City to join them in the celebration. At maraming salamat sa lahat ng volunteers and our vibrant masters of ceremony na sina Chin Gipolio and Jayson Quirante. The night was truly special, indeed.”