Sunday, July 3, 2011

*255. MARINA LICUP CONCENGSO, Miss Angeles 1936

MARINA IN MY MIND. Miss Angeles 1936, Marisa L. Concengso, chosen on the occasion of the Commonwealth Independence Day celebration.

The list of celebrated Angeleña beauties in modern pageant history is long and enviable: Melanie Marquez (Miss International 1978), Violeta Naluz, Marilen Espino, Abbygale Arenas (Bb. Pilipinas winners), Maricel Morales (Mutya ng Pilipinas 1995), Darlene Carbungco, Laura Dunlap and Genebelle Raagas (Miss Philippines-Earth winners). But even before the advent of modern pageants, early “ligligan leguan” (beauty contests) have consistently affirmed the allure of Angeleñas.

The popular beauty searches conducted by the Philippine Free Press to boost its circulation yielded a charmer from Culiat, Beatriz Gutierrez, who, in 1909 was one of those featured in a book commemorating the fairest of the land. Then in 1926, Socorro Henson, daughter of Jose Henson and Encarnacion Borcenas, captured the 1926 Manila Carnival crown—the first Kapampangan to win a national title.

It was only in 1933, however, that the first official Miss Angeles title was bestowed on Maria Augustina Pilar Nepomuceno (b. 1911/ d. 1995), daughter of Gonzalo Nepomuceno and Gertrudes Ayson. She was the town’s delegate to the Miss Pampanga search held during the much-publicized 1933 Pampanga Carnival and Exposition at the Capitol grounds in San Fernando.

Three years later, to drum up interest for the coming Commonwealth Independence Day, a local committee decided to conduct a search for Miss Angeles. They found her in Lourdes Sur—and so it was that Marina Concengso y Licup was crowned in June as Miss Angeles of 1936.

Marina was born on 18 July 1918, the daughter of Eduardo Congcengso of Malabon and Beatriz Licup of Angeles. The Chinese mestiza beauty practically grew up in the sitio near the Angeles train station, where her fair looks went unnoticed. As the criteria for the Miss Angeles search was based on beauty alone, Marina easily got the judges’ nod.

Based on hazy recollections, a poet laureate named Angel did the crowning honors, paying her tribute with a poem he composed and recited during her coronation night. There were no consorts or even a royal court of honor to speak of, but she was paraded around Culiat, riding a topdown car decorated with a festive arch. It was an exhilarating moment for an 18 year old, but after the hoopla died down, Marina went back to her normal life in Lourdes Sur.

At age 21, she married a prominent Fernandino, Ramon Herrera, in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, where her groom’s uncle was assigned as a health officer. They had two daughters, and one of them, Marietta Herrera Gaddi, is the current dean of the College of Nursing of Holy Angel University. Marina and Ramon’s marriage lasted for just 6 short years. Ramon died in 1945, while Marina—who never remarried—passed away in 1985.

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