Miss Cagayan de Oro beauty pageant: 94 years and still counting

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 10 July) – Launched in 1928, the Miss Cagayan de Oro beauty pageant has survived World War 2 and COVID-19 and is back face-to-face after two years of pandemic lockdowns.

“After two years of absence, we are back,” Mags Cue, chief organizer of Miss Cagayan de Oro 2022 said.

Cue and the organizers presented 14 contestants during the talent portion here last Saturday.

She said the pageant will be face-to-face and available for public viewing on pageant night on August 27. The pageant was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic lockdowns but was done virtually in 2021. 

Contestants Ky Donaldson (1) and Chaoncy Azucena (2) smile for the news photographers during the Search for Talent of the Miss Cagayan de Oro 2022 on July 9, 2022. After two years absence, the annual beauty pageant is back, face to face. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

The beauty pageant is a traditional part of the celebration of the Feast of San Augustine on August 28. 

Historian Nanette Roa said the staging of  Miss Cagayan de Oro pageant was stopped only during the Japanese occupation of the city in World War 2.

Roa said when liberation came, officials of then municipal government of Cagayan de Oro decided to restage the pageant in 1946 to boost the morale of its citizens. 

“That year, the title of Miss Cagayan de Oro was changed into Miss Star of Liberation,” Roa said.

She said most of the guests were American soldiers, officers and the Filipino guerillas who help liberate Cagayan de Oro from the Japanese.

As tribute to the beauty queen, Roa said they rode on board a decorated US armored personnel carrier and paraded throughout the city — a tradition that is done to this day during the city fiesta.

A contestant performs a dance during the Search for Talent of the Miss Cagayan de Oro 2022 on July 9, 2022. The beauty pageant, a major event leading to the city’s fiesta celebration in August, was sidelined for two years because of COVID-19 restrictions. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO A beauty contestant performs a Singkil dance during the Search for Talent of the Miss Cagayan de Oro 2022 on July 9, 2022. The beauty pageant, a major event leading to the city fiesta celebration in August, has been sidelined for two years because of COVID-19 restrictions. Photo by Froilan Gallardo

Roa said the idea of holding a beauty pageant was introduced to Cagayan de Oro during the American occupation in the 1920s.

“The US soldiers and civil officials patterned the pageant similar to what they have back in the United States,” Roa said.

Roa said the first Miss Cagayan de Oro pageant was held in 1928 and the winner was Miss Amparo Chaves.

She said the criteria in choosing the title holder was through the “three Bs”—beauty, family background and breeding.

“The judges were very strict on this and it was a great pride for the families whose daughters were chosen to be Miss Cagayan de Oro,” Roa said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)