With mere days away from the highly-anticipated Miss Universe 2019 coronation night in Atlanta, Georgia, Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados is rising above and speaking up, raring and ready to take on the crown.
“I was quiet for a reason,” reveals Gazini Ganados just a day shy of the Miss Universe 2019 closed door interviews, one that is not only bound in hush-hush secrecy, but of anticipation and nerves as well. However, there is nary a hint of reluctance from her, as evidenced by the confidence that laced her melodic lilt. “Well, I was quiet because I was doing everything I could to maximize the time that I had since the competition was fast approaching. Now that I’m already here, I know that I did all my best.”
This conversation is taking place approximately 13,995 km apart, with close to a time difference of 13 hours in Atlanta, Georgia, where the Miss Universe pageant is being held this year. Despite the gaping void in between, the dialogue between our Bb. Pilipinas Universe is charming, confident, and charismatic. Despite coming from a full day of activities, she is in high spirits, obviously relishing the moment that is enveloping her as we speak. “I have to really put my best foot forward, my A-game since we only have 10 days of activities,” she says. “What I really made sure was that I completed all my communication skills so that I can express myself better in a more confident way.”
More than a necessary strategy, this acute sense of self-awareness is a level-headed response to her critics picking on what was singled out as her weakness in the competition. Since her unexpected and highly emotional win in Binibining Pilipinas, even breaking ahead of early favorites, Gazini Ganados has used her time wisely, slowly and surely shaping her perceived flaws into stacked up strengths.
With barely any fanfare to her name, the stunning beauty from Talisay, Cebu has flown under the radar, building her barracks and arsenal for the pressure-laden pre-pageant and pageant proper activities. While there is always a lot to expect from our beauty queens, especially since it has essentially become a national concern over the past decade, with the Philippines racking up a consistent streak by placing in the finals, the pressure has multiplied exponentially for Gazini as she trails the well-loved heels of Catriona Gray, as well as of other Filipina queens before her. Yes, she acknowledges the pressure, but as it usually goes, she doesn’t let it consume her. “Pressure will always be there, but I know for a fact that I have a goal to achieve. It is the one pushing me to do better, lift myself higher, and push for the causes that I support. Pressure is not a bad thing, but it has its benefits as well,” she affirms. “Whatever the outcome may be, I’ve already created such wonderful relationships with my Miss Universe sisters. You know, it’s nice to know that you have a friend in every country that you go to. That’s what I‘m going to treasure forever.”
Before you dismiss this as a mere cliché, it will be completely remiss and unfounded of you if you do not actually see her disposition thus far. Through snippets of stories and slices of life on her social media platforms, Gazini Ganados is resplendent and ravishing, but she is also most importantly, refreshed. There is no sign of the competition wearing down on her as she glides from one activity to the next. In fact, there is an unmistakable glow about her, one that goes beyond a mere surface level of her enviable morena glow. “Make no mistake about it, there will be days when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, feeling sad and emotional, but what I usually do is I meditate with affirmations like: I am enough, I did my best. I keep myself positive, because worrying will not lead you to any success. I just try to cultivate that sense of thinking. It’s like a law of attraction: What you think is what will happen in the future. So, I always try to be optimistic all the time,” she explains. By doing so, she gets to be fully present in the memories and moments made at Miss Universe, one that she will carry even long after the sash is strewn across her body.
“I’m so happy to wear the sash of the Philippines in the international arena like Miss Universe, especially since I always dreamt of being Miss Universe Philippines. Before, my grandmother just used to watch in TV and I can’t believe that I’m representing the Philippines in this huge, huge platform that I am a part of,” gushes Gazini Ganados. Despite living her dream of dreams, the Filipina hopeful has a lot to owe to the world of pageants, one that has been hounded by misconceptions and misguided assumptions. “Growing up, I always just wanted to be a model, and through that career, it has evolved into being a beauty queen. It has brought me so much purpose and responsibility, and discipline. So, I’m really thankful for the things that I have learned all throughout,” she shares. “I guess the biggest misconception about pageant queens that I learned in the process is that we’re all just to be beautiful faces. It’s not just that—we’re here to create a cause not just for ourselves, but for our countries. We’re making a difference, and one step at a time, we’re trying to voice out the things that we know is right and what we stand for.” Standing passionate and proud of her causes, such as elderly care, sustainable development, and ending the stigma of HIV/AIDS, Gazini is making sure her efforts are not for lip service, but one that is backed up with concrete and tangible endeavors to forward the causes, even when the universe may not necessarily agree with all that she has to say. “It is important to reach out for the things that you fight for, not just necessarily your advocacy, but your passions. When you’re so passionate about something, you feel like you want to do it out of joy, out of love, not because you want to do it to show off you have an advocacy or a voice. That’s why we should use our voices wisely and choose our battles when necessary.”
A mere days away from the crowning moment, the fate of Gazini Ganados rests entirely on the universe. Sure, she definitely still has a hand at it, especially since we are a hairline away from the preliminaries and final night, but as it stands, she has done all that she could to represent not only that country that drapes over her shoulders, but most importantly, herself—the woman that has stood there unassumingly with nothing but a warm and earnest smile, and an arm raised to wave hello.
“Sobrang masaya maging Pilipino,” she says winding down this conversation, and perhaps her day in Atlanta, Georgia, “dahil no matter what you do in life, you know that someone out there is supporting you in the dreams you want to achieve, and nothing is greater than having that system regardless what your goal is.” Go take that crown, Gazini—with the rest of the competition yet to conquer, know that it isn’t just a fragment of the nation cheering you on, but rather an entire proud country waving the flag that you are ever so gracefully raising for all the universe to see.