Sunday, February 12, 2012


THE FIRST MISS MABALACAT. Pacita Guzman Sese, daughter of the town treasurer, was the the first official Miss Mabalacat and the town bet to the search for the 1933 Queen of the Pampanga Carnival.

Beauty pageants, it seems, have always been our country's favorite national past time. The holding of the first Manila Carnival in 1908 gave Pampanga a chance to show off her 'pekamalagung dalagas' and in 1926, the first Kapampangan Carnival Queen was crowned: Socorro Henson of Angeles. That same year, the national Philippine Free Press proclaimed Rosario H. Panganiban of Macabebe as its own Miss Philippines.

In contemporary times, four Kapampangan beauties have been crowned as Binibining Pilipinas: Myrna Panlilio (San Fernando, 1964), Melanie Marquez (Angeles, 1979), Abbygale Williamson Arenas (Angeles City, 1998) and Carla Gay Balingit (Mexico, 2003)

Mabalacat misses have also contributed to our regional pride by figuring prominently in national and international pageants. The first Mabalaqueña to wear the Miss Mabalacat sash was Pacita Sese, daughter of peacetime town treasurer Andres Sese and Justina Guzman. A graduate of Instituto de Mujeres, Pacita competed for the provincial Miss Pampanga title alongside other town beauties like Luz Sarmiento (Bacolor), Lina Espiritu (Apalit), Belen Gueco (Magalang), Maria Guinto (Masantol) and eventual winner, Corazon Hizon (San Fernando). Pacita later became Mrs. Mauro Feliciano.

The very first Mabalaqueña to figure in a national pageant was Digna Soliman Ramos, who won 1st Runner-Up honors in the Bb. Pilipinas '77, won by Anna Lorraine Kier. Today, she is married to Dr. Mario Romero and lives in Angeles. In 1991, dusky Seniaflor Sanchez, former 1989 Miss Mabalacat, barged into the semifinals at the same prestigious pageant.

The biggest feat ever by a local girl has got to be Marilyn Gozun Maristela of Camatchiles, who won as Mutya ng Pampanga 1996 and the right to represent the province in the Mutya ng Pilipinas 1996 quest. The reigning queen then was fellow Kapampangan Maricel Morales (niece of Mayor Marino Morales ) and many felt that it was unlikely that another Pampanguena would win the crown 2 years in a row. A dark horse at the start of the contest, she won the nod of the judges in the early rounds, earning Best in Gown honors. Ultimately, she edged out finalists Erlinda Mejia, Teresita Legacion, Elaine Miles and Sheryl Santarin for the Mutya ng Pilipinas 1996 title. Marilyn's next acclaim was at the international Miss Asia-Pacific Beauty Pageant 1996 where she placed 2nd to Costa Rica's Gabriella Aguilar.

Just 2 years after Marilyn's triumph, another Mabalacat resident won the same Mutya crown in the person of Rochelle Ong. A former Miss UST, she represented the National Capital Region in the finals. She went on to compete in the Miss Asia-Pacific 1998 Quest finals held at the Clark Expo grounds, won by Costa Rica's Kisha Alvarado.

It was another feather in Miss Mabalacat's cap when 1999 winner Gizelle Viray, was sent to Canada and copped 2nd runner up honors in a Philippine-Canadian beauty pageant held in August 14 won by Cristina Fandino.

In 2004, Miss Teen Philippines was revived and Kimberly Kate Guevarra, fresh from her Miss Mabalacat triumph, joined the contest and finished in the top 12. Two years later, 14 year old Juliann Angeles Savard of Mabiga captured the 2006 Miss Teen Philippines title in a nationally-televised finals to the delight of her kabalens. Juliann was the youngest of 4 Central Luzon delegates to qualify for the teen-oriented contest that drew 40 contestants. In 2011, Juliann, now an Ateneo graduate, became one of the official delegates of the first Miss World Philippines. She also won a slot as a VJ for the music channel MYX.

Town fiestas were occasions for Miss Mabalacat coronations. First to be crowned was Gracia Hipolito who was elected during the 1950 fiesta. More 1950s Misses Mabalacat winners include Lourdes Guadamor (1955), Candida Galang (now Briones, 195?), Armaflor Quizon (1960). In more recent times, the search for Miss Mabalacat has become a regular fiesta highlight. The winner automatically becomes the town representative to the Mutya ning Kapampangan (Miss Pampanga), held as a centerpiece event of the annual Aldo Ning Kapampangan.

Four Misses Mabiga have won the title in 4 successive years (2002 to 2005), establishing the barangay as the home of the most beautiful Mabalaqueñas. After several runners-up placements, Kimberly Wijangco successfully won the crown for Mabalacat in 2011. It was a significant win as Kimberly was a last minute replacement to the reigning Miss Mabalacat (Aurora Donna Garon) who was abroad and could not go home in time for the pageant. Kimberly was actually Miss Mabalacat 2008, but the Mutya was scrapped that year due to political squabblings.

In 2012, in anticipation of the town's city hood, the first Miss Mabalacat City--Toni Rose T. Reyes of Poblacion--was elected. Whether as a town fiesta queen or as a national beauty titlist, the muses of Mabalacat are truly beacons of Filipina beauty, ready to shine for the pride of their town and people.

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