Jessarie Dumaguing is one of several contestants preparing for the final rounds of the Binibining Pilipinas at Kagandahang Flores beauty camp
When Jessarie was young, she went to live with her aunt after her parents separated. At age 11, she was working as a domestic helper to help make ends meet. “Maybe that’s how I started to be independent, working from age 11,” she says. “I’m actually very grateful because at that very young age, it made me think like that, to help my aunt … we always struggled financially.”
Now 24, she’s come a long way from her hometown of Port Barton on the island province of Palawan, where she grew up on the beach. After finishing university with a degree in tourism management, she left her family behind to move to Manila one year ago, which she describes as “the most difficult thing I’ve done … I miss my hometown every day”.
Yet here she is, with her sights set on becoming the next Miss Universe. It might be a Cinderella story but even as the clock strikes midnight, Jessarie continues drilling her signature strut-and-spin in the hope a crown awaits. Later, she expects to catch one of Manila’s motorized tricycles back to her flat nearby.
“The one thing I want to achieve is to have a crown,” she says. “To have won the crown in Binibining Pilipinas, to be able to represent the Philippines on the international stage.”