My mom, my Miss Universe

It is Miss Universe season once again! The most beautiful ladies around the world have come to my home city – Manila,  Philippines – for a celebration of beauty,  wit and grace.

And as usual, people have their own picks on who will win the coveted crown. In fact,  social media is abuzz with words of admiration and words of hate for some contestants, even if they are of the same nationality. Well, you cannot please everyone after all. As a beauty queen, despite the harsh words and  the constant bashing,  you still have to act and look queenly,  regal and confident. And that is a difficult thing. There will be times when you wanted to cry,  when you wanted to confront these haters,  when you wanted them to stop. But that is a sign of weakness and queens are never weak. I completely admire these women of diverse personalities,  different nationalities,  and varying colors for having the strength and regality to face thousands of people and yet manage to look confident. But there are other women out there who have the same grace and bearing as these beauty queens,  just without the title & the sash. They are queens in their own right and they are everywhere although they are not given enough appreciation.

I know one very dearly. She was the first person I ever laid eyes on. She was there to hear my very first words. She was there with me from my very first steps until I made larger ones as years passed by. She is my mother and my queen. Like most teenagers then,  I have always been afraid of my mother. In fact,  I used to think she never loved me. She was very strict.  She never let me go out with friends at times. She always pushed me to be the best, to get the highest grade. It was too much pressure. I did not realize then that all the things she pushed me to work for,  all the times she did not allow me to go out,  it was for the better. I owe her my life and everything I had and will ever have. Without her,  I am nothing. Without her love,  I am incomplete. It was a struggle to work and to raise three kids at the same time especially during these challenging times. But she was able to balance all of that. And like all beauty queens,  she has been judged by others for being a tiger mom and for fighting for me when I eas bullied back in grade school. The teachers back then at Dominican School Manila were talking behind her back and calling her names in front of me. I would never forget their mocking faces and  their filthy, foul and corrupt mouths. How could they ever do that?  I wanted to cry back then but my mom never did despite all the negativity.  She stood tall.  She was confident and strong as she guided and helped me overcome the trauma of those dark years. Until this day,  I will forever be grateful to her – for my life and for helping me start anew.

As Pia Wurtzbach crowns her successor next week,  my mom will remain a queen as she is. Hers is not a title that need to be passed. Hers is not a crown made of exquisite jewels and gems. Hers is not a name that will be remembered by many. But she is my mom. My one and only queen. My Miss Universe. Hers is a crown made with love,  embossed with care and forged by trials. Hers is a name that will be forgotten by many but will forever be etched in my heart.

To my mom,  Nenita Penarubia Danga-Quindoza,  you are a queen like no other. You are the real Miss Universe. I love you.

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