Pageant organizers circumvent Davao’s ‘no swimsuit’ policy by going to Samal

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/3 Feb) – Organizers have found a way around the strict enforcement here of a no-swimsuit exhibition during beauty pageants – go to resort island Samal instead, and find the appropriate, and more scenic background for the girls in their swim wear.

“There, organizers would have all the reasons why the women should wear their swimsuits. Because if you put them on stage with those skimpy clothing, all the more that people suspect exploitation and abuse,” said Oscar Casaysay, community relations program coordinator of the City Mayor’s Office, which handles tourism and pageant-related activities.

Casaysay was taken in as consultant by the local organizers of the Miss Earth Philippines Davao pageant to give them an expert advice on how to go on with the local search for this international competition without sacrificing the criterion on swim wear and trampling on the local prohibition.

The prohibition was long observed here even prior to the passage in 1997 of the Women’s Development Code of Davao City, which eventually specifically banned it, along with such other perceived exploitative nature, such as the use of women to promote liquors and cigarettes.

He said that the code specially tied down all the beauty and cultural pageants to observe the prohibition, and includes the Mutya ng Dabaw and the Hiyas ng Kadayawan, a search for the fairest maiden from the different indigenous and Muslim tribal groups.

“These pageants should showcase the culture of the local communities and villages without having to bare more skin,” he said. Since then also, the Mutya ng Dabaw has not been tied to and timed with the annual Binibining Pilipinas pageant.

Davao residents who want to join the latter would have to apply as individual candidate although she would also carry and represent Davao City by virtue of her residency.

Casaysay said, however, that many Davao women have figured prominently in national beauty competitions, and cited the case of Lyn Charisse Revilla, who at 5’9” and light brown complexion came out winner in swimsuit competition in the 2006 Binibining Pilipinas pageant.

“She was also a frontrunner and favorite in the Binibining Pilipinas pageant that year, but she was eased out after the judges ruled that she was days short of the required age of 18. But from Day 1 to before the semifinals, she was obviously the public and judges’ favorite, maybe because of her real Pinay beauty,” he pointed out.

Revilla also emerged as the Bituin ng Kasuotang Pilipino in the Philippine Travel Mart in 2006. She was later hired by the Community Relations Program of the city government.

Casaysay said that the swim wear part of the Miss Earth pageant local search would be held at the Blue Jazz resort of Samal island, while the entire one-month screening and community advocacy would be held in Davao City and the rest of the region.

Screening of the Miss Earth hopefuls was scheduled February 6 and coronation of the Davao winner was slated on March 19.

“In between would be a tour of the entire Davao Region, doing tree-planting and coastal clean-up and visiting eco-tourism destinations like the coves in Davao del Sur,” he said. The candidates for the local search would also be doing advocacies for the environment and culture, and they would be sent to the tribal communities.

On the glamour side, Casaysay said, “they would be doing fashion shows and local designers would have to come up with eco-friendly creation of attires”. (MindaNews)