Wynonah Buot for the win
Willowy, winsome and witty. Newly-crowned Miss Cebu 2015 Wynonah Van Joy Buot was destined to wear the crown. But before anyone can harp on about her win being written in the stars, the proud graduate of the University of the Philippines Cebu College makes it clear that it was a victory borne out of self-belief and hard work.
Here, know more about the young lady who will represent Cebu this year—and possibly beyond. Because as much as she revealed on that momentous night of the pageant, so much more we learned in this conversation we had the following day after she was proclaimed as the city’s ambassadress.
You won Miss UP in 2012. Did you join any other contest before Miss Cebu?
No. Miss Cebu is my first major pageant.
Describe that night after the pageant.
Sleep didn’t come easy. I turned in at 2 a.m. and got up at 5 a.m. for our TV guesting. I arrived in the nick of time, just when they finished with the shoot. (laughs)
Has it sunk in yet that you are the new Miss Cebu?
No. I was just telling my mom that I still don’t feel that I won the crown as Miss Cebu 2015.
What did your sister (Ciarra Joyce Agustin Buot) tell you about her own experience in the Miss Cebu pageant that motivated you to join?
She said that Miss Cebu really offers a lot of opportunities for you. All the people you’ll meet, the trainings you’ll have, the experience… that’s what really matters.
You mentioned before that you are not into beauty pageants. What changed your mind?
My sister, she joined Miss Cebu in 2010… so people keep asking me why I wouldn’t join. They would tell me about having the potential because I was tall and smart, blah, blah, blah.
And I was like… it’s not really included in my priorities. Actually, I was asked to join in the past two years, and I kept declining, until I thought… yeah, why don’t I try, since I already graduated, and with honors pa jud? I really had nothing to lose.
Anything else apart from school that delayed your foray into beauty pageants?
The pageant scene is too complicated for me. It’s not something that I see myself getting comfortable with. Plus there are so many so-called restrictions—you have to keep your poise all the time, carry yourself well even though you’re already tired. That’s not really my thing.
But you are already a fashion model. What’s the challenge here?
Most challenging is shifting from modelling to pageant mode. I had to change the way I walked, my facial expressions. Usually, when modelling, you’re supposed to have this snobbish expression, while in beauty pageants, you have to keep a smile all the time, and I’m not so used to it. (laughs)
You had this preconceived notion about beauty pageants before joining Miss Cebu. Is there anything that you’ve learned?
It’s not easy joining beauty pageants. I used to think that all it took was to dress well, put on some makeup, wear the clothes of the designers, and then you’ll just breeze through the question-and-answer part. But when I actually joined the pageant, I realized that it isn’t like that at all. You really have to prepare yourself physically, mentally, emotionally. And it’s not easy. It’s a balancing act… coming out on stage looking and feeling completely ready to face the world.
Let’s talk about your answers during the pageant. In the casual interview, you likened yourself to a rose—beautiful despite its imperfection. You mentioned the good about it. Can you tell us now about the thorns?
That question really shocked me. I really prepared myself for the difficult subjects. I studied the BRT, the ASEAN Integration, the environment, the Papal visit, and then when I got that question, I was like… What?!? (laughs) On the spur of the moment, I thought of a rose, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to talk about the thorns. I grounded my answer on the word “beauty.” That’s where I extracted my answer from.
I mentioned all those virtues and capped it with “catalyst for change.” I ended it there because I thought it was so flowery already, and so far from the rose. Now everyone’s calling me Wynonah Rose.
Now that you’ve had more time to think about your answer, who else would you bring to that dinner with the Pope?
I want to have my family there. They are the closest people to me so I want them to meet the Pope and listen to his stories of faith. I’ll also bring the bad politicians para makonsensya sila sa ilang gipangbuhat sa katilingban.
Among the special awards, what is the most special for you?
Every single one is very special to me.
Did you think that the awards gave you an “edge” over the others?
That’s the thing with having people who keep me grounded. They tell me to not think that just because I already won the awards during the pre-pageant and the coronation night, they judges would automatically give me the crown. Miss Cebu will always look at what’s in here (points at head) and not because you won a special award. You really have to keep your focus.
After your reign, will you be joining bigger pageants like the Bb. Pilipinas?
I was told by a some makeup artists and handlers that they’re eyeing me to represent Cebu next year. They asked if I was willing, and I said that I think I am. So, we’ll see. I’m not closing the door on that. It’s a privilege to represent your city because not everyone gets chosen to represent Cebu.
This stint has really opened opportunities for you. But had you not joined Miss Cebu, what would you be doing now?
Originally, after I graduated, I wanted to pursue a Law degree at the University of San Carlos. Or I would have gone to Australia to take my Master’s Degree. So I joined Miss Cebu while I was working, but I had to leave because the schedule of Miss Cebu is so rigid and I couldn’t handle both. If I didn’t join, I would have continued working or would be fixing my papers to fly to Australia. I’m really focused on my education.
Let’s talk about your advocacy.
Nowadays, we’re really met with a lot of natural calamities and I noticed that Cebu is very proactive at extending help to different areas, and that’s a good thing. However, some people are not aware that Cebu is on the move so it’s important for us to engage in information dissemination. People don’t really use the media as a convenient tool to address this problem… to mobilize yourself, tap your friends na if nay relief operations, to go and help. Dili man pwede na maghuwat ra ta or just sympathize. You have to empathize and do something.
If your advocacy is the environment, is joining Miss Earth on the horizon?
I have my heart on Bb. Pilipinas. It’s not that I have anything against Miss Earth. It’s just that if I’m going to push myself to the limit, I would go where I would really see my worth, if I manage to win it, that is. Dako siya na pride for me if I win the Bb. Pilipinas.
You spent several years overseas. Can you tell us about the experience?
I was born here in Cebu but my family moved to Saudi Arabia when I was five. So I practically grew up there and rarely came home. Saudi Arabia’s culture is very different. It’s very conservative and restrictive especially for women. We’re not allowed to drive. When we go out, we have to be accompanied by a male. You cannot wear anything that will expose your neck, hands or feet because those are the areas “attract” the men. It’s very limiting there. We don’t have theaters, bars or clubs. But it’s a peaceful country, at the same time, a country that you don’t want to mess with. So when I came home, I experienced culture shock.
I had to learn to be independent because my parents had to go back to work and both my sisters got married at an early age. I had to pay my bills, go to school on my own.
At first, I didn’t know how to ride the jeep. (laughs) In Saudi Arabia, let’s just say that I got spoon-fed there but at the same time, I really learned the value of education there.
I was really groomed to be an achiever there. I was pressured by my mom. I was the only one who was pressured to be an honor student. That’s why I graduated as valedictorian in elementary and salutatorian in high school.
I was the president of our student organization; I was the editor in chief of the school paper; I was the first cheer captain of our varsity… I had to do everything!
Where do you trace your family’s roots?
My father is from Carmen while my mom is from Bantayan.
Without the crown and the makeup, what are you like?
My friends can attest that I am a very crazy person. Not crazy, as in wild, but in the sense that I’m very talkative and I joke a lot. I’m not this feminine. I eat a lot. But I don’t drink, smoke or party. I do what normal teenagers do if I can still consider myself as one.
What are your hobbies? What do you do to unwind?
I eat! (laughs) Ask the Cebu City Tourism Commission people or my fellow candidates who’s first to ask if there is breakfast, lunch or dinner —that would be me!
What’s your favorite cuisine?
Anything! Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern!
But there’s got to be something that you wouldn’t dare eat.
Exotic food. Di nako kaya mukaon og snakes or frogs.
Tell us, what was going on backstage?
Everyone kept on telling me how confident I looked. What they didn’t know is that I really kept on praying. God knows the desires of my heart. Of course, I joined for myself, but even more for the people around me—my loved ones and the people of Cebu City that I can help.
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