A Her­itage crown for a his­tory buff

The Freeman - - FRONT PAGE - By KARLA RULE Photo by YASUNARI RA­MON TAGUCHI

It takes a lot of work to achieve one’s dreams. Of­ten­times, des­tiny might have a hand in things. For first ever Binib­in­ing Cebu Her­itage ti­tle-holder Lou Do­minique Pic­zon, she be­lieves that her jour­ney to the crown had a lot to do with both.

Born and raised in Cat­balo­gan City in Sa­mar, Lou, called Doms by fam­ily and close friends, grew up in her grand­fa­ther’s child­hood home. The third of four sib­lings, Lou’s fa­ther is a re­tired banker while her mother worked for the Depart­ment of Agrar­ian Re­form. The brood moved to Cebu for the chil­dren’s col­lege ed­u­ca­tion, and have found a home in Tal­isay City for more than 10 years now.

“It was a very fun child­hood,” the OZAR model says. “My sib­lings and I are very close, es­pe­cially me and my younger brother. Two of our older sis­ters went to col­lege, so tech­ni­cally he grew up with me.”

A self-con­fessed Dis­ney baby, Lou knew all the songs to all the movies. She loves the pu­rity and in­no­cence in each tale. Her fa­vorite story is “Mu­lan,” for its por­trayal of the “strength in women that peo­ple over­look.”

Grow­ing up in an an­ces­tral house filled with mem­o­ries and sto­ries, Lou was one to pore over books and look into the past through the many ti­tles and knick­knacks found inside her grand­fa­ther’s house. So fit­ting for some­one who was go­ing to win a Her­itage ti­tle in the fu­ture.

“We had a lot of old books there. And en­cy­clo­pe­dias. I would read more on the his­tory, es­pe­cially when it comes to the royal fam­ily. I’m fond of learn­ing about how they’re all con­nected, the sto­ries be­hind the crown and the gems and the de­tails,” Lou, 22, says with a glint in her eyes. “That was how I be­came more in­ter­ested in his­tory, be­cause of the an­ces­tral home that we lived in and the trea­sures that were kept there.”

In the fam­ily, Lou is the ic­ing on top of the cake if you will. A help­ing hand to any­one who needs it, Lou al­ways strives to make her fam­ily proud. At home, she never runs out of things to do. When she’s not tak­ing charge of the house­hold, she is tucked in a cor­ner ab­sorbed in a novel or a movie, or trav­el­ling, go­ing back home to Cat­balo­gan, out and about do­ing mod­el­ling gigs, work­ing out or spend­ing time with her fur baby Snow­ball.

For a cou­ple of years now, she can also be seen han­dling mod­el­ling work­shops for OZAR at the Green Rose Cen­ter for Academe.

The chinita beauty pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted that she has a ten­dency to iso­late her­self. Oth­ers some­times mis­take her as aloof, and the sharp and strik­ing fea­tures might also add to the ef­fect. On the con­trary, Lou is ac­tu­ally the kind of per­son to throw a friendly smile.

“I am al­ways the un­ap­proach­able one,” Lou laughs about peo­ple’s first im­pres­sion of her. “Peo­ple al­ways get in­tim­i­dated at first sight, which I treat as an op­por­tu­nity to prove them wrong. I also don’t want to scare them off to­tally. That’s why when­ever I meet new peo­ple or when I’m hang­ing out some­where or even when I make eye con­tact with some­body I don’t know, I would give out a lit­tle smile. It re­ally makes a dif­fer­ence, be­cause that’s when they start to make conversation. And con­ver­sa­tions are key to know some­one bet­ter.”

Apart from read­ing, Lou loved to play doc­tor as a lit­tle girl. Her fa­ther of­ten said that she would be­come ei­ther a doc­tor or a lawyer. But Lou didn’t have the heart to be­come a doc­tor, and be­ing a lawyer would be tough for some­one who wasn’t con­fronta­tional. She didn’t like be­ing told to read as a re­quire­ment ei­ther. While she wanted to take up Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, cir­cum­stance played a part and she ended up tak­ing Com­puter Tech­nol­ogy at the Univer­sity of San Jose Reco­le­tos.

“I wanted to be­come a lot of things,” Lou chuck­les. “I also wanted to per­form, as in host, dance, model, do pageants. I guess that’s checked off the list. Now, I have a new dream: to be a flight at­ten­dant. Fingers crossed!”

Lou, who plans to join Binib­in­ing Pilip­inas some­day, is like­wise eye­ing to be on an in­ter­na­tional pageant stage be­fore she hits 26.

Now with 13 pageants un­der her belt, the Miss Man­daue 2014 win­ner be­gan her life on stage at an early age. Her mom would sign her up for singing and danc­ing shows, and en­rolled her in pub­lic speak­ing classes at six years old.

“I’ve al­ways been com­fort­able in front of a crowd. I guess I just wanted to be on stage lang gyud. I got into pageantry in first year of high school. I was 12 years old and joined Mr. And Ms. Sa­mar Na­tional School where I be­came sec­ond run­ner-up. My teacher vol­un­teered me to rep­re­sent the fresh­men dur­ing In­tra­mu­rals. It was an eye­opener and should I say an iden­tity-opener as well.”

It was sweeter the sec­ond time around for Lou when she fi­nally clinched a crown in this year’s Binib­in­ing Cebu pageant. Rep­re­sent­ing the town of Dalaguete last year, Lou fin­ished as a Top 20 fi­nal­ist and nabbed the Most Pro­fes­sional award. Right after the corona­tion, her man­ager Danny Booc told her to join again.

“He didn’t ask me. He told me,” Lou cracks a smile. “I re­mem­ber telling him that I wanted to join some­thing else. I’ve never joined the same pageant twice. There are al­ways other ponds to fish in, but he in­sisted.”

Ask­ing the coun­sel of her par­ents and sib­lings, but with her mom’s opin­ion weigh­ing the most, Lou gave Binib­in­ing Cebu 2018 a go, this time, rep­re­sent­ing the town of Ronda. One of two re­turn­ing can­di­dates, Lou even­tu­ally claimed one of the two new ti­tles up for grabs.

“Now, I feel…grabe. On cloud nine,” she says. “I was go­ing to set­tle with any crown. I wanted them to call me al­ready to get it over with. Any crown. I didn’t want to go home with­out one. When they called my name… It’s re­ally true, my heart fell. Nata­gak gyud akong heart that time. Mura kog mabun­gol.”

“I’m just so happy. Fi­nally I landed a crown after a sec­ond at­tempt. It led me to where I’m sup­posed to be and I know this in­dus­try is what I want to do gyud. Soon, I’ll have it fig­ured out and hope­fully be led to the right di­rec­tion.”

Apart from mak­ing sure she wasn’t too skinny, Lou made it a point to be­come as open as pos­si­ble for Binib­in­ing Cebu 2018. Last year, let­ting the com­pe­ti­tion into her head took a toll on her per­for­mance and her con­fi­dence.

“Be­cause of the in­tim­i­dat­ing com­pe­ti­tion – with Apriel, Maria, and Sa­man­tha– I be­gan iso­lat­ing my­self. I lost con­fi­dence that I could win. I guess that’s one of the rea­sons why I only landed in the Top 20. But I didn’t stop be­ing my usual self. I was pro­fes­sional, I don’t bash any­one, I love every­one and I re­spect them. The only dif­fer­ence now is that I’m more con­fi­dent in my own skin. I know I’m full of po­ten­tial.”

In­stead of with­draw­ing into her­self, Lou earned new friends in her jour­ney. Just this week, she was babysit­ting Binib­in­ing Cebu Tourism 2018 Kim Covert’s nine mon­thold boy, Sol Ge­n­e­sis.

“You caught that huh!” Lou cracks up. “That was an­other amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I jumped at the op­por­tu­nity! I love kids but tak­ing ac­tual care of a baby is so new to me. I was a babysit­ter for my lit­tle brother be­fore but we were more like play­mates.”

Lou learned a lot that evening, re­al­iz­ing that moth­er­hood is no pic­nic. It also helped that Sol was a well­be­haved baby as seen on Lou’s In­sta­gram sto­ries – al­ways smil­ing with Lou while they played or while she pre­pared his milk.

Dur­ing the in­ter­view with the rest of the court, Lou was brought to tears upon hear­ing the life sto­ries of her fel­low win­ners. She com­mended the 2018 queens for their strength, and felt over­whelmed after learn­ing about their strug­gles. The rest were quick to tell her not to com­pare ex­pe­ri­ences, be­cause every­one’s lives are unique.

“At times, I felt that I was al­ready so down, in my low­est point. And yet hear­ing about what you guys have been through…” Lou tells them. “I don’t pity them. I ad­mire them even more.”

Lou is getting to know more the ladies she will be work­ing closely with in the com­ing year. She and Binib­in­ing Cebu Ecol­ogy 2018 Is­abela Deutsch have bonded over events, she has formed a re­la­tion­ship with Kim by be­ing a tita to Sol, she and Binib­in­ing Cebu Char­ity 2018 Tracy Mau­reen Perez have shared ex­pe­ri­ences as re­turn­ing can­di­dates, while she and Binib­in­ing Cebu 2018 St­effi Aberas­turi, who passed on the Miss Man­daue crown to her, have com­mon ground with their mod­el­ling work.

“We’re cool. We get each other in so many ways,” she quips. “It’s pretty great to be work­ing with these ladies. They’re great in their own ways.”

Be­ing the first to ever earn the Binib­in­ing Cebu Her­itage crown, Lou takes a leaf out of the books of her in­flu­ences. Some of them in­clude Miss Uni­verse 2010 fourth run­ner-up Venus Raj, who she ad­mires for fight­ing for “what is right­fully hers” after be­ing de­throned be­cause of con­flict re­gard­ing her Filipino cit­i­zen­ship and even­tu­ally re­in­stated as Miss Uni­verse Philip­pines; Miss Uni­verse 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, who never gave up on her dreams after three at­tempts in Binib­in­ing Pilip­inas; to the Duchess of Cam­bridge Kate Mid­dle­ton for her el­e­gance and grace; and most of all, her mom, a com­bi­na­tion of ev­ery­thing else she could ever want to be.

“Her­itage… the first ever. This is ac­tu­ally very per­fect for me. Peo­ple who know me know that I’m very fond of his­tory. It amazes me. God has a plan gyud. I am an ad­vo­cate of men­tal health aware­ness and sup­port an­tibul­ly­ing. I want to fo­cus on those two and tap on Ronda, and hope­fully the rest of Cebu. I also want to dig into the his­tory of Cebu,” says Lou, who won P75,000 for her ad­vo­cacy project.

For the clincher ques­tion dur­ing corona­tion night, Lou spoke about be­ing a mem­o­rable per­son. Ac­cord­ing to her, the most im­por­tant qual­ity of a Binib­in­ing Ce­buana is hu­mil­ity. Even when oth­ers treat you like the most im­por­tant per­son in the world, keep­ing your feet on the ground will make you more mem­o­rable. Your reign will not just be on the papers, Lou says, but on every­one’s hearts.

De­scrib­ing her­self as sim­ple, classy, out­go­ing, re­source­ful, and smart, Lou is also hu­man – fickle-minded and try­ing her best to be kind. So when asked how she would like to be re­mem­bered by, Lou gave two replies: for her work ethics and for be­ing her­self.

“I want to be re­mem­bered as hard­work­ing and easy to work with. I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it when I get feedback for a good job and that I had har­mo­nious re­la­tions with the peo­ple I work with that would make them want to work with me over and over again,” Lou says. “On top of that, I want to be re­mem­bered for who I re­ally am as a per­son. As Lou, and how I touched their lives.”

She ul­ti­mately hopes for Ce­buanos to think out­side of their own bub­bles and mind the rest of the com­mu­nity.

“Be con­sid­er­ate of other peo­ple. Let’s not just think of our­selves. We are all kind of strug­gling,” Lou says, cit­ing the traf­fic sit­u­a­tion in the city as an ex­am­ple of our in­con­sid­er­a­tion.

“Every­one has places to go. If we could just help each other out. If we don’t start with our­selves, then where would Cebu go? We’re not only speak­ing for our­selves but also for the com­mu­nity, the peo­ple sur­round­ing us and the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion.”

Binib­in­ing Cebu Her­itage 2018 Lou Do­minique Pic­zon

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