There is definitely a price to pay if you would like to make it in the world of beauty pageants. And though there is such a thing as luck, there is no shortcuts to success.

This perhaps sums up what happened to this newly-crowned Miss Summer World 2018. The new pride of London and the Philippines competed at one of Europe’s prestigious beauty pageants.

Early beginnings

Kacey originally hails from Catbalogan, Samar in the Philippines. She was born to a Filipino-Chinese father and a Spanish-Japanese mother. This explains her exotic look that makes her stand out in the crowd. She moved to the United Kingdom to pursue her dreams of becoming a lawyer. She recalls her early fascination in the beauty pageant world. She would watch the beauty pageant shows at her local gymnasium. She knew from an early age that she would want to become a beauty queen herself.

“I looked up to these women on stage – their grace, elegance and that exuding appeal was just tantalising, almost mesmerising. I was in utter awe and admiration. I couldn’t wait to grow up to become like them.”

In the Philippines, festivities will not be complete without a beauty contest. From barangay fiestas to basketball tournaments, there will always be a beauty pageant.

The journey to the realisation of the dream

Ingrained with the beauty queen dream in her head, Kacey had been very active as a child. She would perform on stage in just about any competition in school or any other extra-curricular activity that involves performing arts. Joining contests, she’d get a taste of victory and of course lose on some occasions. Either way, Kacey is grateful that she has a very supportive family who supported her all the way.

One thing Kacey and her parents agreed on is that her studies should never be compromised. Her family was strict when it comes to education as they made sure that earning her undergraduate degree was prioritised over everything else. Kacey did not disappoint her parents as she was a consistent honour student, graduating from the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree.

She travelled to London to pursue a career as a lawyer. She finished law school from BPP University and eventually worked in an immigration firm. The very first pageant that Kacey joined was in 2017, when she came across of Miss Swimsuit UK.

“I remember that I was on my lunch break when the Miss Swimsuit UK Instagram page just popped out in my feed. I was really surprised because I have never heard about it. I had a quick browse and I really liked what the pageant stood for,” she recalled.

Kacey applied and instantly received a reply from the Miss Swimsuit UK CEO who was really interested in having her for the London Heat contest. At first she was hesitant to compete because it has been a while since she joined a beauty contest. While contemplating whether she would compete or not, her two-year relationship with her boyfriend came to an end. 

The paradigm shift

The decision to finally join the Miss Swimsuit UK, London Heat wasn’t easy. She made a choice to pursue her pageant dream and take a sabbatical with law. She reckons that law will always be her fall back and she wanted to do the pageant while she is young and still capable of doing so.

In her preparation for the first pageant, she joined the Royalty’s UK beauty camp which trains aspiring beauty queens. Her training was intense, focusing on things such as how to do the catwalk..to personality development,…conquering the Q & A, up to the hair and make-up as well. Her preparation all paid off as she won the London Heat and later on became 2nd runner-up at the National Level of Miss Swimsuit UK.

This contest opened up doors for her in the modelling world as well. Ever since she won, she had been sent to compete for the Best Global Model of the Year in Portugal that same year. Kacey was one of the finalists and garnered a special award.

Stubborn with her dream

These pageants had helped Kacey develop her self-confidence and overcome her stage fright. More importantly, it has given her the opportunity to form a special bond among the women she competed against and appreciate cultural differences. Kacey believes that beauty pageants provide a platform for women to express their advocacies and influence public opinion. Her main advocacies are focused on women empowerment and human rights.

Although Kacey had been joining similar pageants in the past, she would still feel nervous whenever she competes, especially when she is representing the Philippines.

This time around Kacey was determined and focused on winning what could be her last pageant, the Miss Summer World 2018.

“Inaabangan pala talaga nila ang Pilipinas. From the day I arrived in Albania, they already knew so much about me. I felt that I had to live up to their expectations on Filipina beauty queens. The pressure was on, but I focused and reminded myself to enjoy every moment that I was there!”

The competition has given Kacey a renewed sense of self-fulfilment. Winning it came during the most challenging time of her life as she was on the edge of giving up after two attempts in trying for international competitions.

“There were people who doubted me, questioned me – to the point that I was not even sure about myself anymore. Mabait talaga si Lord. Now, part of my mission and purpose as Miss Summer World is to inspire other people – that regardless of the circumstances in your life, you should never give up on your dreams!  At times it will be hard and doors will be closed but remember to always get back on your feet and fight.”

What’s next?

Miss Summer World is a prestigious beauty pageant that selects its next ambassador for the organisation. It supports women in their dreams to become the person they want to be. Its previous winners were from Greece and Holland, making Kacey the first Asian and Filipino to win the competition.

To be a beauty queen is both an honour and a responsibility. As a Queen, they can be someone who can motivate and inspire other people. On the other hand, there will be people who may think that being a beauty queen can be superficial. Kacey is determined to prove this stereotype wrong.

“It should not come as a surprise that women at this day and age can all be beautiful, intelligent, successful, opinionated and fearless. The women who can make heads turn, who are comfortable in their skin, who can speak up on her own voices and above all, who can discern choices and who are not apologetic to follow their own dreams.”

The fascination of Filipinos to beauty pageants may be because of the hope and inspiration it provides to women. It encourages them to dream. These women are not just beautiful faces. They are well accomplished women in their own right.

“I wish to carry on the legacy of beauty, grace, and elegance that have been demonstrated by the past Miss Philippines title holders. The Philippines has become a powerhouse country because of its continuous winning streaks in different competitions but I would like to make a name of my own. I would want to be remembered as a Queen who is strong, nurturing, and compassionate and above all, the most unforgettable one.”

The world has not become superficial just because we allow ourselves to appreciate beauty. These beauty queens have their own contribution, from representing the country in international competitions to becoming great influencers. They are a manifestation of strong women who are limitless in their ability to achieve what they worked hard for. We should celebrate these Filipinos who are beyond beautiful in every single way.

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