To promote equality and acceptance of diverse gender identities, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) through the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO) hosted the Miss Ilokoslovakla 2017 pageant with the theme, Confidently Beautiful with a Twist held last February 17 in front of the Provincial Capitol in Laoag City.
Now on its second year, the pageant was participated in by 30 candidates from the province’s LGBT community representing their respective municipalities and cities, as well as other continents with Ilocano gay communities.
Before the coronation night, the competing candidates went through the pre-pageant talent show on February 14, showcasing their skills in music, dancing, and other forms of entertainment.
Highlighting their advocacy for HIV awareness, the candidates wore ribbon-clad casual dresses in their production number. The red ribbon is known as the universal symbol of awareness and support for those suffering with HIV.
After numerous segments, the i-Vaklers, as the candidates were called, who were crowned as winners were “Miss North America” Ivy Pascual (stage name: Bea Bunda) hailed as Queen Miss Ilokoslovakla 2017, followed by Lew Jerez of Batac City (first runner up), Dianne Shatshat Portugal of Paoay (second runner up), Echa Espejo of Nueva Era (third runner up), and “Miss Asia” Kuri-Kurem U_i_ (fourth runner up).
Leading the board of judges was Miss Philippines Earth 2016 Loren Mar Artajos of Laoag City.
Other judges were: COMELEC Laoag Officer Atty. Julius Harvey Balbas; PSInsp. Christian Mendoza Felix, deputy chief of the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office (INPPO) Detection and Investigation Branch; Arch. Ace Nathaniel Mandac, also an event designer and artist; Jazzy B Pascua, teacher at the Ilocos Norte College of Arts and Trades (INCAT); Joyce Custudio, administration manager of Avion BPO; and Missosology founder Pauwie Ventura.
Governor Imee R. Marcos said, “Sabi nila, ang LGBT and gay rights are human rights. Tunay nga! The right to be beautiful, napakaganda, resplendent, and kagila-gilalas; the right to be happy, joyful, sa sariling Ilokoslovakla.”
Meanwhile, INTO Head Ianree Raquel, stated that the pageant also served as an avenue to highlight the LGBT community in the provincial celebration of its 199th foundation anniversary.
Through Miss Ilokoslovakla 2017, PGIN reiterated its support to the LGBT community of Ilocos Norte, assuring them that every Ilocano is an important member of the province regardless of their gender. – (Ma. Christian A. Ramos, PGIN-CMO)