A Tribute to Spirit of Philippines From The Heart of India


What is most important feature to win any pageant? PASSION! The primary capability to outshine the competitors does not come from grooming merely. Similarly, hard work in wrong direction is regressive and futile. The wonderful bunch of determined and ambitious people understood this phenomenon quite deeply and made their small initiative a laurel for their nation, Philippines. Now you all must have gauged about whom I am referring to! Yes, I am here to unveil the success story of Jonas Gaffud who is the founder of beauty camp, Aces and Queens and Rodgil Flores, the founder of beauty camp, Kagandahang Flores.

While Aces and Queens aims to polish the ladies particularly for Miss Universe and Miss World, Kagandahang Flores aspires to produce international winners in the pageants like Miss International and Miss Earth. The agenda of their camps works incredibly professionally, but do you know, that the camps are free of cost? Yes, these benevolent camps are here not for the business but hold the yearning of their nation being called a powerhouse of beauty pageant year after year!

Gaffud has put Philippines on the beauty pageant map, by running a free training camp that helps young and beautiful women who believe in their worth to make their nation proud! Philippines experienced a long drought before Venus Raj made to top five finalist of Miss Universe 2010. Since 1999, there had been not a single semi-finalist at Miss Universe till 2010. Gaffud is a former researcher who currently works as an owner of modeling and talent agency. Arnold Mercado and Mark Besana, who manage the girls in Aces and Queens work for multinational companies, since they do not charge a single penny for their service in the camp. Nad Bronce who is a lawyer by profession, trains the girls to answer questions for interview rounds and final question and answer rounds. Carlos Buendia who is an architect by profession, trains the girls to dance and move on stage. Albert Kurniawan, who is a makeup artist teaches the girls as to how to keep up their facial expressions on stage. Hohn Cuay, who is a Gold Gym fitness professional takes care of the ladies’ fitness and diet.

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So how this did began? Jonas Gaffud’s interest in pageants, particularly, Miss World, began when Sharmaine Ruffa Gutierrez won Bb. Pilipinas World 1993 who placed as second runner up at Miss World 1993. He was always apprehensive about training girls for Miss World since it has always been an obscure pageant for Philippines since its inception and Filipinos were more engrossed with Miss Universe than Miss World. Gaffud could not offer a Miss World winner to Philippines very soon, despite of his unwavering dedication and uphill struggle, though he adorned his nation with Mafae Yunon who was a top 5 finalist at Miss World 2003 and Gwen Ruais who stood as first runner up at Miss World 2011.

By now, Gaffud was guaranteed that Miss World demands a charming and serene personality who has an unassailable presence. It was 2011, when Gaffud approached Megan Young to join Bb. Pilipinas, but unfortunately she could not make that happen because of her commitments and priorities in other projects. One day in 2012, she messaged Gaffud that she is enthusiastic to participate in Miss World Philippines 2013, which she eventually won. When Megan joined Aces and Queens she was told to improve her runway skills, and when she won the Top Model fastrack event at Miss World 2013, Gaffud was awestruck with pleasant surprise.

Megan during her stay at Miss World 2013 always kept the Aces and Queens camp updated with her whereabouts through skype. Even despite of consistently getting first place at hotpicks by almost all the pageant experts, Megan would confide in to the Aces and Queens team to seek interview tips, or even nominal recommendations regarding her earrings or shade of lipsticks.

The grand finale approached finally and the Aces and Queens camp went to Bali, Indonesia to show their full fledged support to their queen, Megan Young. The stress for Jonas Guffud was such that he ran to the farthest toilet after the top 5 finalists were announced so that, he could not hear the crowd. And then the rest is history! Philippines finally had its first Miss World crown.

Flipping the other side of the coin, Kagandahang Flores has produced two Miss Earth, Karla Henry and Jamie Herell and two Miss International, Lara Quigaman and Bea Rose Santiago. Sometimes both Gaffud and Flores end up spending their own money while catering the requirements of the girls they are training and lodging. Nevertheless, the ruling passion of Philippines is pageants and hence few generous people and former protégés donate handsome amount occasionally.

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The moral of the success story is that once you solemnly determine your goal, no hurdle can ever stop your way. Keep climbing the mountain, till you reach the peak, no matter how many times you fall. Great respect to Philippines for their unwavering spirit and perseverance and particularly, Aces & Queens and KF, you explained the world that nothing is impossible!

Waiting to see identical passionate hearts in our nation too very soon! Because miracles do take time!

Vagisha Mishra

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