Ingrid Santamaria had already joined another national pageant before she threw her hat in the 2022 Miss World Philippines competition, where she eventually captured the Reina Hispanoamericana Filipinas crown. And yet she still considers herself to be a “shy and timid girl.” So in aiming for an international beauty title, she knew she had her work cut out for her.
“Well, we did have to get ready knowing what the pageant wants to find in their queens in our mind. So [I’m] just a lot more ‘palaban’ (feisty). It’s time for me to come out of my shell, and I’m ready to do that,” the concert pianist told the Inquirer on Friday, March 10, in an online interview from the airport where she was set to fly to Bolivia for the 2022 Reina Hispanoamericana competition.
The three-decade-old pageant is Latin territory, dominated by fierce contenders from South American countries where beauty contests are also huge like in the Philippines. The country sent Asia’s first entry in 2017, Teresita Ssen “Winwyn” Marquez, whose showbiz background helped her stand out and trounce the competition to bring home the crown.
Her immediate Filipino successor, also a showbiz denizen, failed the first cut, while the succeeding representatives settled for runner-up spots. In a pageant-crazy country where fans demand nothing more than a crown, the pressure is high for Santamaria. And she is aware of it.
“I’ve been training really hard ever since I did win my crown,” said Santamaria, who clinched the Reina Hispanoamericana Filipinas title in June last year. With the global tilt originally set to take place in October 2022, she had four months to train for the big league, far longer that Marquez had to prepare.
But the organizers announced just before the pageant schedule that it had been postponed because of the political and civil unrest in the host country Bolivia. No new date was given at the time. In December, they said the contest would push through in February 2023, but that also did not happen. It has now been moved to March.
Having her competition delayed twice, and for a reason so critical, Santamaria almost threw in the towel. “What’s happening there is almost like a war. Millions of people were out on the streets for one month, they didn’t have work. It’s really better to consider safety first,” she shared.
“Why would they force a pageant if it was unsafe for the girls to go? And it was something that I accepted. If it’s not gonna happen now, it might not happen before I turn my crown over,” Santamaria confessed.
And yet she continued her training despite having that gnawing feeling that all her work may just go to waste. “Just having that extra time allowed me to polish every single aspect that I needed to polish to be able to compete. And I’m really excited for you guys to see what I have up my sleeve,” Santamaria said.
She will be up against 29 other delegates for the crown currently held by Mexican queen Andrea Bazarte. The 2022 Reina Hispanoamericana coronation program will be held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on March 25 (March 26 in Manila