Svelte and statuesque, smart and witty, newly-crowned Miss Cebu 2015 Wynonah Van Joy Buot certainly looks and sounds the part. Born in Cebu, raised abroad before coming back to town to find an independent life waiting for her, some might say that Wynonahís path to the crown was written in the stars. But let her body of work show that it hardly was. But rather, it was one born out of hard work which when you read on, youíll find sheís very fond of.
So here you go, read on and meet the lady who has now become the face of Cebu this year, and if her plans to join bigger pageants do not miscarry, possibly even beyond. As much as she revealed during the pageantís grand coronation at the height of the Sinulog celebration, there was just so much more that we found out during an intimate tete-a-tete the afternoon after she won the crown. To find out what these were, read on!
I know you joined Miss UP before. Were there any other contests that you joined before Miss Cebu?
No. Basically, Miss Cebu is the first major pageant that I have joined.
What did you do the night after you won?
I really wasnít able to sleep. I slept at 2 a.m. and woke up at 5 a.m. for our TV guesting. I arrived just in the nick of time when they finished with the shoot. (laughs)
Has it sunk in yet that you are the new Miss Cebu?
No, not yet. I was talking to my mom and I told her I still donít feel that I really won the crown as Miss Cebu 2015.
What did your sister tell you about her prior experience in the Miss Cebu pageant that motivated you to join?
She said that Miss Cebu really offers a lot of opportunities for you. I have met different kinds of people sa workshops alone and you donít get to meet these people on a regular basis. The people you meet, the trainings we had, the experience, thatís what really matters.
You mentioned before that you werenít into beauty pageants before. What made you change your mind?
My sister, she joined Miss Cebu in 2010 and they kept asking me why I donít join. They keep on telling me that I had the potential because I was tall and smart, blah, blah. And I was like it wasnít really included in my priorities. I was actually asked to join the past two years and I kept declining until I realized that why donít I try since I already graduated and with honors pa jud. I really had nothing to lose.
What was stopping you from joining aside from your studies?
The pageant scene is so complicated for me. Itís not something that I see myself getting comfortable with. There are so many restrictions Ė you have to keep your poise all the time, carry yourself well even though youíre already tired. Thatís not really my thing.
What was the most challenging part?
The most challenging part was shifting from modelling to pageantry. Modelling is very different from beauty pageants so I had to change the way I walked, my facial expressions. Usually in modelling, youíre supposed to look snobbish and in beauty pageants, you have to smile from every angle and Iím not used to it. (laughs)
You mentioned that you had this preconceived notion about beauty pageants before joining Miss Cebu? Tell us one thing that you know now that you didnít before about pageants.
Itís not easy joining beauty pageants. At first I thought that all it took was to dress well, put on some makeup and wear the clothes of the designers and then after that, just breeze through the question and answer portion But when I joined the pageant, it realized that it isnít like that at all. You really have to prepare yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and itís not easy. You have to keep balancing those so that when you come out on stage, you feel completely ready and thatís not easy.
Letís talk about your answers. During the casual question and answer, you likened yourself to a rose and mentioned the good parts. Can you tell us 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) At the spur of the moment, I thought of a rose but unfortunately I wasnít able to mention the thorns. I grounded my answer on the word ďbeauty.Ē Thatís where I extracted my answer from. I mentioned all those virtues and ended up with ďcatalyst for changeĒ and then I ended it there because I thought that it was so flowery already and so far from the rose. Now everyoneís calling me Wynonah Rose.
Now that you have had more time to think about your answer, who else would you bring to your hypothetical dinner with the Pope?
I would have brought my family with me. Thereís the closest to me so I would have wanted them to meet the Pope and listen to his stories of faith. Iíll also bring the bad politicians para makonsensya sila sa ilang gipangbuhat sa katilingban.
Among all the awards, what was the most special for you?
Every single one was very special to me because I never expected to get them in one grab.
How did you stop yourself from getting complacent even after winning all those awards?
Thatís the thing with having people who keep you grounded. They always told me to not think that just because Iíve already won the awards during the pre-pageant and the coronation night, they would automatically give me the crown. Miss Cebu will always look at here (points at head) and not because you won an award or a plaque so you really have to keep your focus.
After your reign is over, will you be joining bigger pageants like the Bb. Pilipinas?
I was told by a few makeup artists and handlers that they were eying me to represent Cebu next year and they asked me if I was willing and I said that I think I am. So weíll see. Iím not closing my door to that. Itís 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 do you think would you be doing right now?
Originally when I graduated I wanted to pursue a Law degree at the University of San Carlos. If not I would have gone to Australia to take my Masterís 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 couldnít handle both. If I didnít join, I would have continued working or would be fixing my papers to fly to Australia. Iím really focused on my education.
Letís talk about your advocacy.
Nowadays, weíre really met with a lot of natural calamities and I noticed that Cebu is very proactive at extending help to different areas and thatís a good thing. However some people are not aware that Cebu is on the move so itís important for us to engage in information dissemination. People donít really use the media as a convenient tool to address this problem so it would be better if someone could influence or encourage them to use media or mobilize yourself, tap your friends na if nay relief operations, go and help. Dili man pwede na maghuwat ra ta or just sympathize. You have to empathize and help.
If your advocacy is the environment, wouldnít joining Miss Earth be the right fit for you?
I really have my heart for Bb. Pilipinas. Itís not that I have anything against Miss Earth. Itís just that if Iím going to push myself to my limits, I would go to something where I would really see my worth if ever I manage to win it all. Dako siya na pride for me if I win the Bb. Pilipinas than the Miss Earth crown.
You spent several years overseas. Can you tell us about that experience?
I was born here in Cebu but my family immigrated to Saudi Arabia when I was five. So I practically grew up there and rarely went home. Saudi Arabiaís culture is very different. Itís very conservative and restrictive especially to women. Weíre not allowed to drive. When we go out, we have to be accompanied by a male. You cannot wear anything that will show off your skin especially your neck, hands or feet because those are the areas that are very vulnerable for a woman because it attracts men. Itís very limiting there. We donít have theatres, bars or clubs.
Itís a peaceful country but at the same time, itís a country that you donít want to mess with. So when I came home, it was really a culture shock for me. 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. So I had to pay my bills by my own and go to school by my own. At first I didnít know how to ride the jeep. (laughs) In Saudi Arabia, letís just say that I got spoonfed 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 really pressured by my mom. I was the only one who was pressured to be an honor student. Thatís why I graduated as the valedictorian in elementary, 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 familyís roots?
My father is from Carmen while my mom is from Bantayan.
When the crown and the makeup comes off, what are you like?
My friends can attest to this: I am a very crazy person. Not crazy as in wild but in the sense that Iím very talkative and joke a lot. Iím not this feminine. I eat a lot. I donít 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 would be the first to ask if there is breakfast, lunch or dinner would be me!
Anything! Japanese, Chinese, Middle-eastern!
But thereís got to be something that you wouldnít dare eat?
Exotic food. Di nako kaya mukaon ug snakes or frogs.
Share with us what was going on backstage.
Everyone kept on telling me how confident I was but I really kept on praying because God knows the desires of my heart. Of course I joined for myself but more so for the people around me especially my loved ones.
Jonas Rey N. Panerio
Contributor - Sports & Lifestyle