Farming village says: We have a beauty queen | Inquirer News

Farming village says: We have a beauty queen

/ 12:05 AM April 03, 2014

MJ LASTIMOSA during the long gown competition on the night she was crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Universe at the pageant venue Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.RICHARD A. REYES

TULUNAN, North Cotabato—This second-class agricultural town’s first encounter with being in the headlines was ugly—April 1985 when Italian missionary priest Tulio Favali was murdered for being a guerrilla supporter by militiamen led by the notorious Manero brothers.

Twenty-nine years later, it would hog the headlines again but in a literally beautiful way—as the hometown of the country’s newest beauty queen, Binibining Pilipinas-Universe Mary Jean Lastimosa.


This highly agricultural town of at least 59,000 people is a beehive of activity these days because of Lastimosa.


Known here as MJ, the beauty queen’s homecoming is highly anticipated in a town where daily lives revolve around farming, carabao-pulled carts are still modes of transporting goods and local gossip centers around the personal lives of neighbors.

Local folks know how the town celebrates its feasts—food overflows, people dress in their best, decorations fill the streets.

For MJ, however, the town is expected to better its best.

Jomar Almerante, chair of the village of Sibsib, said the entire population of the town could still not contain their happiness at MJ’s achievement no matter if days had already passed since news about her winning the prestigious contest broke.

That there is an outpouring of joy over MJ’s success is an understatement.

The village council of Sibsib, according to Almerante, is now preparing a resolution declaring MJ as “pride of Barangay Sibsib.”


“We have a Ms Universe,” said Almerante, whose village has a population of at least 4,000 and is considered to be one of only two commercial districts of the town.

Mayor Lani Candolada said there would be a hero’s welcome for MJ. What sets the preparations apart, said Candolada, is that ordinary folks are offering to help.

As in many journeys, MJ’s started here where she spent her years as a child.

Candolada recalled MJ as a barrio lass who was at practically every beauty contest in the town’s villages before she headed for Davao City to start a modeling career.

According to Candolada, MJ’s homecoming is likely to happen in September when the province celebrates its centennial.

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Until then, this town is likely to continue to bask in MJ’s glory and start to adjust to fame brought by beauty, not ugly notoriety. Williamor A. Magbanua, Inquirer Mindanao

TAGS: Tulunan

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