EM­POW­ERED WOMAN

Decades af­ter bring­ing home the Ms. Uni­verse crown, Margie Mo­ran-Floirendo con­tin­ues to be an inspiration to women all over.

Cebu Living - - Health - by Ceia Yla­gan pho­tographed by Pat Ma­teo

WWe've all heard how, as a 19-year-old, Margie Mo­ran-Floirendo brought glory to the coun­try by bag­ging the crown in the Ms. Uni­verse pageant in 1973. She ad­mits that win­ning the pageant has opened many doors for her; she helped boost Davao's tourism in­dus­try, opened and man­aged a re­sort, pro­duced doc­u­men­taries and TV shows that high­lighted the beauty of Min­danao, and worked to pro­mote peace through the “Ta­bang Min­danaw's Re­lief Op­er­a­tions” for evac­uees and vic­tims of armed con­flict in Min­danao.

Years af­ter her reign has ended, and long af­ter she has passed on her crown, she is now deeply im­mersed in com­mu­nity work that in­volves some of her pas­sions. Be­ing a bal­le­rina be­fore she joined the pageant that dra­mat­i­cally changed her life, Margie now pur­sues her love of the art as the pres­i­dent of Bal­let Philip­pines. Hav­ing lived in Davao for a big part of her life, Margie is one of the founders of the Min­danao Women's Com­mis­sion where she works with women, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for them, teach­ing them liveli­hood projects and hon­ing them into en­trepreneurs. She is also an ac­tive mem­ber in Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity. With the many projects and causes she is in­volved in, Margie is a fine ex­am­ple of some­one who sets her mind to a goal and aims to achieve it, in­spir­ing women of all ages to be any­thing they want to be.

So many things have hap­pened since you were crowned Ms. Uni­verse. Can you tell us some­thing about your jour­ney?

All these just came my way. If it was some­thing I was in­ter­ested in, I al­ways put em­pha­sis on what is in it for oth­ers. Even in the movies I've done, in the doc­u­men­taries I've done, it al­ways leads to so­cial change. It's be­cause my in­ter­est is al­ways com­mu­nity work.

What in­spires you to do all that you did?

It de­pends on what I'm do­ing be­cause I'm do­ing so many things. Let's say in the bal­let, what in­spires me are how good the dancers are, how I am also able to in­spire them, how I'm able to in­flu­ence them to achieve ex­cel­lence in their dance and be­come the best they can be. I find ful­fill­ment in be­ing able to give that op­por­tu­nity to them. And ev­ery­thing I do is for the glory of our Lord. It's re­ally a mis­sion. I find that I'm luck­ier, more for­tu­nate when I make other peo­ple have more op­por­tu­ni­ties to be what they can be.

Be­ing a pub­lic per­son­al­ity, what lessons did you hope to share with women?

That we can be any­thing we want to be as long as we have a vi­sion for our­selves. [I want to teach them] to take op­por­tu­ni­ties as they come their way. I just do what I can and my mes­sage to women is that what­ever they do, whether it's for their fam­ily or for other peo­ple, it's al­ways re­ally for the bet­ter­ment of so­ci­ety.

Were there cer­tain pub­lic per­cep­tions that you had to deal with?

Peo­ple up to this day look at me and in­tro­duce me as Ms. Uni­verse, even if I am so much older al­ready. I take it as an op­por­tu­nity, I'm not ashamed of it at all, be­cause it has brought me to dif­fer­ent places and it has given me the power to be in the po­si­tion of in­flu­ence. And I think that's the most im­por­tant thing that I have achieved—to be a per­son of in­flu­ence. I've achieved cred­i­bil­ity as well. It has given me suc­cess in ev­ery­thing I want to do.

You al­most ran for pub­lic of­fice in the last elec­tions. Are you con­sid­er­ing run­ning again?

Oh, I don't know. I've al­ways be­lieved that if it's meant for you, it will hap­pen be­cause there is al­ways a role that we play in so­ci­ety. And if it's for me, the doors will open. If it's not for me, the doors will not open. But re­gard­less of whether I will run or not, I will con­tinue to do the projects that may im­prove the lot of peo­ple.

Given all these things you have been do­ing, how did you man­age your time be­tween rais­ing a fam­ily and nur­tur­ing your ca­reer?

My fam­ily is al­ways a pri­or­ity but my girls are now very in­de­pen­dent; they live abroad. They went to board­ing school at an early age so I was able to give pri­or­ity to my ca­reer as well. I talk to them ev­ery­day so it's like they haven't left.

Hav­ing sep­a­rated from your hus­band, how have you man­aged to re­main friends?

It's also be­cause of my chil­dren. We both love them very much so our bond is with our chil­dren. Af­ter a cer­tain time, you get over all the dif­fi­cul­ties and you make it a point not to en­gage in any dif­fi­cul­ties and al­ways make it eas­ier. We even travel as a fam­ily up to now.

What are your tips in aging grace­fully?

The most im­por­tant are how healthy you are and how you look at your­self. I don't re­ally look at my­self [based on] how other peo­ple want to look at me. It's what makes me feel good that mat­ters be­cause that's what I ex­ude. If I feel good about my­self, if I am well-groomed and I am well-dressed, then I will ex­ude this kind of per­son­al­ity. The other thing is also to have good skin. Make sure you have good skin be­cause even when you get older you will al­ways have that beau­ti­ful look.

Let's talk about your life in Davao. How was it like when you moved there years ago?

We moved there in 1985. I lived there for about 10 years or more. It was a big change [mov­ing there] be­cause at that time Davao was not as ur­ban­ized as it is now. It was very ru­ral. I was very ca­sual, I did a lot of things at home. I had a baby that was grow­ing up so I was al­most a full-time house­wife but I was also very much en­gaged in the travel busi­ness. That was my work there.

What do you ap­pre­ci­ate about liv­ing in Davao?

Its healthy air, and I have a house and a beau­ti­ful gar­den. But pri­mar­ily I'm there be­cause there's work to do.

You've raised your fam­ily in Davao. What makes Davao a good place to raise a fam­ily?

It's a good place to raise a fam­ily be­cause it does not have the fast-paced ur­ban temp­ta­tions. Well, now we have malls. But when my kids were grow­ing up, there were no malls. And it was just a good place to keep the fam­ily to­gether.

What makes Davao dif­fer­ent from other cities in the coun­try?

The peo­ple in Davao are very co­op­er­a­tive; they're ac­tive. They're not com­pla­cent. You'll ac­tu­ally get peo­ple there to move. They're ac­tive in the com­mu­nity, in any­thing they do. There's al­ways some­thing go­ing on. So whether it's in the arts or in the en­vi­ron­ment, it's not dif­fi­cult to rally peo­ple to a cause. And the women there are also very ac­tive in peace and de­vel­op­ment.

How is the arts and cul­ture scene in Davao?

You have to cre­ate the scene for arts and cul­ture. We do not have a proper the­ater; hope­fully, we will. But it's some­thing we have to cre­ate. And there are lo­cal arts and cul­ture and the cul­ture in Davao is very rich. We have the in­dige­nous peo­ple, we have the Is­lamic cul­ture, and the cul­ture of the Chris­tians who have come from all over the Philip­pines. It's a melt­ing pot of mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety and that's what makes it a very vi­brant city as well.

What is the best thing about be­ing in Davao?

Be­ing in Pearl Farm Beach Re­sort and be­ing in the plan­ta­tions. It's where I want to be. It's like my sec­ond home.

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