Saturday, March 12, 2011

Binibing Paniqui 2011: Keeping Love Real

Paniqui, TarlacImage by ~MVI~ via FlickrThe city of Paniqui, Tarlac is beautiful in a way that only provincial cities are beautiful. Everything is but a street away. The ice cream parlor where I feasted on a generous meal of thick, sliced crispy fries for only Php 25 is but a street away. The night bazaar where I slaked my thirst on a mango shake fortified with milk for only Php 10 is but a street away. The auditorium where the Binibining Paniqui 2011 pageant will be held is but a street away.

The city of Paniqui, Tarlac is beautiful in a way that only provincial cities are beautiful. You cross the street and you fall in love. There are two schools of thought on preserving the charms of small-town life. You can wrap it in plastic and try to keep things just the way they are. Or you can let the town grow, but carefully, mindful of the pains that growth can bring.

The Binibing Paniqui pageant represents the best of Paniqui. When you meet the candidates, you don't only marvel at the sight of their natural, Filipina beauty. You marvel at the way they see themselves. They want to show that it is important to be beautiful inside and out. The candidates are beautiful in a way that few pageant candidates are beautiful nowadays. They are lovely to look at, but they are even lovelier when they start to talk. You cross their path, and you fall in love.

I came here to give a talk on how strong Filipina women should make the decision to be free, and how that decision also involves being chaste. But, as all fruitful encounters are wont to go, I ended up learning how many Filipinas have already made the decision to take responsibility for their freedom. I ended up learning that many of the candidates already demand that they love and be loved in a manner that respects their vibrant femininity and their desire for a healthy family.

I came here to tell them that it is important to be "safe", but that it is more important to make good decisions in love and life. A condom might safeguard one's burgeoning exploration of intimacy, but that's only so far as sex goes. What about an even more vital organ? What about the heart? There is no condom for the heart. 

But the candidates, even though they could not articulate it before our discussion, already knew that. They already see themselves as more than just "beauty and brains". They see themselves as something precious, and undeniably loving. They see themselves as women of worth and character, who love and are loved in return.

You can wrap it up in plastic, or you can take care of it. In Paniqui, Tarlac, they've chosen to take care of it. It's a beautiful place. You cross the street, and you fall in love. 


Many thanks to Anna Varona-Rivilla and Mayor Miguel "Dors" C. Rivilla. I can't wait to bring the Sweetness and the Sweetlings over one of these days. Mabuhay! 

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