Speaking out in the age of Twitter is easier than ever. It can also be more hazardous than you think. One moment you’re starting an honest conversation, the next you’re embroiled in political controversy. Mariel De Leon knows this better than most, but the recently crowned Binibining Pilipinas International 2017 isn’t here to stir up trouble, she’s merely taking the title’s responsibility seriously. So we caught up with her to find out what that means.
What do you think is the role of a beauty queen?
The role of a beauty queen is, of course, to use her voice to talk about issues and help people. It’s not just about standing there and being pretty anymore. After all, the tagline of Binibining Pilipinas this year was “Women of change.” Hopefully beauty queens can help inspire people to take action instead of just watching things happen in front of them. Especially now that our society likes to focus on the negative instead of telling people to actually work for what they want.
Do you consider yourself a political person?
No, actually I was just expressing opinions, and I think everyone has that right. It’s just that some people took it the wrong way, which I didn’t intend for to happen. It’s quite unfortunate but everything is a learning process. I was just watching the news. And, of course, as a citizen of any country, you can’t help but feel concerned sometimes. Having this new crown just put me in the spotlight.
What cause do you hold dear?
Growing up, I’ve always been into classical music and the theater. I know a lot of people are more into mainstream music like pop and hip hop, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but people also need to remember the roots of music, classical music, classical theater. I hope I can help them connect to that more. I know that there are a lot of kids out there who want to pursue music but don’t have the means, so hopefully I can help raise funds and awareness.
Do you have a background in classical music?
I’m not a professional or anything but I’m part of the Philippine Opera Company. I’m part of the Opera Belles which is a classical music group. Growing up I’ve always loved the opera.
What do you think about our current standards of beauty?
I think we’ve come a long way. People are more accepting of different types of beauty, in whichever shape, size or color, and even gender. So, I’m really happy about that, but of course we still have a long way to go, and hopefully one day we can break those barriers and tell people that it’s not always about what society tells you is beautiful, it’s about the person himself or herself.
Did you feel pressured to look beautiful in the competition?
Not really. That’s what I thought the first time joining Binibining Pilipinas. Going into this the second time, I was just like, I’m going to relax and whatever happens happens and I’ll accept it. So I didn’t put too much pressure on myself to look perfect all the time. Confidence in yourself has a lot to do with it-in any job really.