Ilene de Vera’s crowning moment

Mutya ng Pilipinas-Asia Pacific International 2017 Ilene Astrid de Vera (third from left) with her court during the coronation night at Resorts World Manila. (INQUIRER LIBRE)

“THERE was a lot of pressure. But when I arrived in Manila, I told myself that I will not go home without a crown.”

This was what newly crowned Mutya ng Pilipinas-Asia Pacific International Ilene Astrid de Vera told Cebu Daily News via Facebook chat Saturday morning, just hours after she won the title.

The 21-year-old marketing officer and fashion model brought pride to Cebu when she bested 29 other candidates during the pageant’s coronation night held at Resorts World Manila Friday night.

She will represent the country in the global competition to be held in October this year.

“I feel very happy to have won the crown for Cebu. I honestly didn’t expect to win because there were far better candidates than me. I also didn’t want to get my hopes up. I only knew I was joining the pageant one week before it would start so there wasn’t any preparation done on my end,” she said.

It was also a sweet victory for her after enduring some time away from home to stay in Manila for the duration of the pageant, which she considered the hardest part of the competition.

A Mass Communication graduate of the University of the Philippines Cebu, Ilene proved she is more than good looks when she aced the pageant’s much-awaited question and answer portion.

Johnny Litton, chairman of the board of judges, asked her what title she would choose if her life were to be made into a film and who would she like to portray her.

Ilene quickly answered, while holding back her tears, that the movie of her life will have the title “A Single Mom’s Daughter” and that she herself would portray the lead role.

“I was raised by a single mother and I saw her struggles in raising me and my sister. Our family doesn’t have that much, financially so she taught me and my sister to work hard. She trained us to be very independent and humble, no matter what we achieve in life. Last night, all I wanted was to make her proud,” she said.

Early on in the pageant, Ilene had already been one of the favorites.

She won the Darling of the Press award and was second runner-up during the long gown competition.

Before the pageant’s winners were announced Saturday night, she was given the Resorts World Manila special award.

Her court consists of Mutya ng Pilipinas-Tourism International Jannie Loudette Alipo-on of Navotas, Mutya ng Pilipinas-Top Model of the World Hannah Khayle Iglesia of Isabela and Mutya ng Pilipinas-Overseas Filipino Communities Savannah Mari Gankiewicz of Hawaii.

The first runner up is Angela Carla Sandigan of Pateros and Sofia Sibug of Albay is the second runner-up.

The newly crowned queen will have to buckle down soon to prepare for her journey to the Miss Asia Pacific International title.

“I’ll be spending my time in Manila to prepare for it. Also, I will be working with the Mutya ng Pilipinas Organization for the whole year. I’m just very excited for everything that’s happening in my life right now,” said Ilene.

Far from the shy girl who once doubted herself, Ilene is sending out a message to everyone who dares to pursue their dreams and that is to persevere.

“My advice to my fellow dreamers out there is to always set your eyes on your goals.

Never let doubt kill you. And never give up. You might encounter hardships and mistakes along the way but they will all lead you to your success,” she said.

TAGS: Ilene de Vera, Mutya ng Pilipinas
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