Samantha Ballesteros, 17, a recent Delano High School graduate, and newly crowned Miss Filipina Teen International first runner-up, answers 12 questions about what she experienced and learned about herself.
What is the competition and what does it represent?
Miss Filipina International and Miss Filipina Teen International is the most prestigious pageant in the United States catering to the young Filipina women from all over the world.
How did you get involved in the competition?
I was approached by the director of recruitment of the organization to see if I was interested.
What was the process in getting selected for the competition?
It was fairly easy. We just had to apply and answer questions. Then we were interviewed by the executive producer via Skype.
What kind of girls were in the competition alongside you (nationality, hometown, etc.)?
Many were out of town, state and from overseas, thus, an international pageant. We all had to be at least a quarter of Filipino descent in order to join.
Did you have to train for the competition and if you did how long?
Our preparations and trainings started as soon as we were accepted. I officially joined sometime in February, which gave me a good amount of time to prepare. We trained for hours with the staffs when we were all in Los Angeles together. Some also hired pageant coaches and some were self taught. I as well taught myself intensely with the help of my family and friends.
How are the contestants judged? (What categories)
We were being scored by many aspects such as: the beauty of the face and figure; confidence and personality; and personal private interview with the judges. We were also judged by portions such as our swimsuit, evening gown, runway walk, and question and answers for finalist.
What place did you receive?
I received Miss Filipina Teen International First Runner-up.
Where did the final competition take place?
Coronation Night took place at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on July 27.
What did you do and how was the experience of the competition?
Throughout the past few months, I had to change many of my unhealthy habits to prepare. I started maintaining a healthy lifestyle by going to the gym every day and watched my nutrition while also practicing my walk, enunciation, questions and answers, etc. The overall experience was worthwhile. It tremendously helped me grow as an individual.
Did you make any friends during the competition?
The girls have really bonded with each other to the point where I think of them as my sisters.
What did you think about placing so high in the competition?
I’m truly blessed to place as first runner-up for my first pageant, let alone an international one. I’ve worked really hard for this moment, and I’m definitely glad that everything paid off.
How proud are you in representing Delano and its large Filipino population?
It was a blessed honor representing Delano and the Fil-Am community. I loved being on stage knowing that not only was I showcasing myself, but my family, my hometown, Pangasinan, in the Philippines and Delano as well. I’ve received so many love and support from the community which only gave me the drive to do my very best. I have utmost gratitude for their endless support.