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Filcom groups, POLO pull out support from beauty contests

01 December 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap

There has been a renewed campaign to discourage Filipino community organizations in Hong Kong from holding beauty contests, in the wake of the scandal over leaked photographs from a racy pageant held in a Wanchai bar on Nov. 18.

The photos showed 10 contestants in the “Miss Hot Babes 2018” competition wearing flimsy red negligees, and with hardly anything covering their bodies underneath. Other pictures showed them doing provocative poses in their skimpy outfits, while a group of men, many of them Caucasians, watched.
Leo Selomenio

Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre
Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre was the first to take action, tracking down the show’s organizer, and getting her to see him at his office on Nov. 25. She issued a public apology on Facebook the next day.

Global Alliance chair Leo Selomenio initially issued a scathing commentary on the racy show, then called his group to a meeting to discuss their next step. On Nov. 28, Labatt dela Torre announced on Facebook that Selomenio’s group, made up of two big federations and several affiliate organizations, had agreed to stop organizing beauty contests.

Dela Torre said he was “grateful and quite happy” over the decision, and said that Selomenio’s massive organizing skills will be better put to use for events showcasing the skills and talents of Filipinas, like singing contests.

He ended his post with a warning against others thinking of organizing similar events and those ‘helping’, dirty old men who are there merely to ogle and to satisfy their sexual desires, to think twice before bringing the community into disrepute.”

Selomenio’s stance surprised many in the community, as it was her group’s propensity for holding beauty contests that landed her a plum role in the highly acclaimed Philippine indie movie, “Sunday Beauty Queen,” which put a spotlight on this OFW ritual.

But in an interview with The SUN, Selomenio said she was bothered that organizers of the Wanchai event had gone to the extent of parading the contestants half-naked, and in full view of many ogling foreign men.

What disturbed him even more, he said, was seeing the secretary of one of his affiliate organizations, Survivors Association, emceeing the show. He said he immediately sought an explanation from this member in a group chat, but was ignored. That made him decide, with concurrence from his officers, to expel the affiliate group.

Selomenio’s outrage was clear in his Facebook post, where he said it was the contestants’ choice “na babuyin ang inyong mga sarili.”

He added, “It’s not an art of photography anymore, its pornography. Kung kayo very proud na ipakita sa mundo ang mga katawan ninyo then good for you. But for thousands of OFWs here in Hong Kong, we strongly oppose those indecent exposure of your body and soul.”

In the interview, Selomenio admitted getting bothered by his fellow OFWs getting mired in debt because of beauty contests. While his group did not impose a “quota” – or a minimum amount of entrance tickets – for the contestants to sell, he said most other groups do this as a matter of course.

He said the going rate now for quotas is $1,500 per candidate, who must also set aside another $1,500 for a hair and makeup stylist, a further $2,500 for a personal videographer, and a few thousands more for the gown and the other outfits they are required to wear during the pageant.

He rued that what started out as just a fun way of raising easy funds for many groups has now degenerated into a money-making venture for organizers, often at the expense of women desperate to gain recognition.

His decision was largely supported by members of his alliance, but he also had detractors who accused him of high-handedness and hypocrisy.

Selomenio just shrugs off this criticism, saying he does not have the power to wage an all-out campaign against all beauty contests.

“Hindi ko naman sinasabi na stop na ang lahat ng mga beauty contest dahil wala naman akong karapatan na sabihin iyon. Kaya nga ako nagtataka kung bakit galit na galit sila sa akin, kasi nasa sa kanila na iyon kung gusto nilang ituloy. Basta yung aming grupo, stop na talaga.”

But what Labatt dela Torre called as Selomenio’s brave and heroic stance appears to be fast gaining adherents. At least one other big OFW organization, Mindanao Federation,  has pledged support for banning beauty fests, while a group of Christian pastors is said to be in the process of issuing a public statement calling out those who organize such contests.

Even the Consulate is reportedly mulling a way to express disapproval, though in a more subtle way. Sources say that when officers or staff are invited to a Filcom event in future, organizers will be asked if a beauty contest is included in the program. If it is, they will decline the invitation.

Mahaba pa ang tatahakin para makita ng mga kababaihan kung paano silang nasasamantala, at ito ang sinasamantala ng mga organizers ng ganitong patimpalak. Sampal ito sa prestihiyo at dignindad ng mga kababaihan. Naniniwala akong mas may kakayahan pang kayang patunayan ang mga kababaihang sumali rito na di hamak na higit pa sa kung paanong magpakita ng katawan upang mang-akit lamang. May mga utak silang pwede pang hubugin sa mas produktibong gawain. Skills na pwedeng higit pang sanayin. Pero higit sa lahat, ang katotohanan sa event na ito ay sadsad ang pagkatao ng kung sino man ang nagpatimpalak nito. I strongly condemn whoever sponsored this.

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