SUCCESS comes sweeter the second time around.

Pharmacy alumna Janine Tugonon did not let her hopes of becoming a beauty queen vanish after she settled for a first runner-up finish in the Binibining Pilipinas 2011 pageant. She tried again this year and finally walked away with the title Binibining Pilipinas-Universe.

Tugonon began early in beauty pageants, but it wasn’t until she enrolled at UST that she started to take them quite seriously. She represented the Faculty of Pharmacy and won The Search for the Ideal Thomasian Personality. The victory led to something much bigger. A pageant organizer saw her potential and invited her to try her luck in the Binibining Pilipinas.

But Tugonon waited until she earned her diploma and passed the Pharmacy board examination before entering the big league last year. To her mind, education comes first.

Having been crowned first runner-up in the prestigious nationwide pageant was a big achievement already for this Thomasian beauty queen. But she knew she could win the ultimate prize.

Encouraged by her mom, she joined the pageant for the second straight year, despite the fear that she might again come up short.

“I got used to being on top and aside from not wanting to repeat another year of preparation, I also feared losing for the second time,” she said.

Inevitable trials

Her second stint at the nationwide pageant was not smooth-sailing. She arrived late for the screening, having stayed up late because of work the night before. The lack of sleep and all, she got the nod from pageant organizers.

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“It seemed that God re-arranged the situation for me. It became not merely a fight for popularity and fame, but rather for a purpose,” she said.

Throughout the competition, Tugonon felt she was unfairly criticized, especially in social media.

“There was this internet site wherein its webmasters made sure their bet [in the pageant] was well-supported. Upon assessing their comments, I believe they were trying to pull me and my supporters down,” she said.

But Tugonon remained tough and focused.

“In this competition where every contestant has beauty and brains, it turns out as an industry that requires a lot of strength—mentally and emotionally. The only thing that could make you survive is faith. It was His power that made me standout among the rest,” she said.

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