A Heritage crown for a history buff
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