In the midst of the chaos of changing outfits for various layouts and spending hours in front of the makeup chair, the Miss Grand Philippines 2023 Queens still manages to radiate their coronation glow on set.
Carrying the same aura that has helped them capture their respective titles, it’s been months since that fateful night of July 13. Successfully concluding its inaugural edition, the Miss Grand Philippines pageant ascends six stunning Filipinas as its debuting victors.
Emerging at the center of the stage with utmost pride and joy, Nikki de Moura (Miss Grand Philippines 2023), Michelle Arceo (Reina Hispanoamericana Filipinas 2023), Herlene Budol (Miss Philippines Tourism 2023), Francine Reyes (Miss Eco Teen Philippines 2023), Shanon Tampon (1st runner-up), and Charie Sergio (2nd runner-up) all shine ever so brightly as they now carry their crowns securely on top of their heads and wear their sashes tightly across their hearts.
As the new players in the perpetual game of crowns, there are enormous pressures that both the pageant and its reigning queens must bear, put up with, and inevitably strive to conquer.
Out on a grand mission
In the ever-revolving landscapes of the Philippine pageant industry, long history of traditions and well-invested legacies are always looked up to by fans with high regard. This is why when sudden changes are made and completely disrupt the comfort of what is accepted as the norm, there lies an exorbitant amount of expectations to not only live up to but also to defy them in all forms.
Standing at the forefront of a monumental but delicate situation, the emergence of Miss Grand Philippines not only exacerbates this dilemma but also prompts an already tense relationship between the ever-supportive Filipino pageant fans and the polarizing entity known as Miss Grand International.
After years of hostility, the support of Filipinos towards their delegate at Miss Grand International has since declined. Because of the widespread prejudice against the pageant, fans are now less convinced and are finding it more difficult to stand by its newly-minted local competition.
Guarded with this heavy task, the Miss Grand Philippines 2023 Queens cultivate a sense of duty by honoring those who have paved the way for their journey while embracing the responsibility of creating new accomplishments, inspiring those who who will be next in line.
One of the most remarkable aspects of being part of Miss Grand Philippines’ history is the ability to inspire future generations. Like our role models before us, we would like to do the same for the next aspiring queens.Nikki de Moura on winning the newest Miss Grand Philippines pageant and becoming a part of its history
With the desire to continue the golden legacy of the country, the Miss Grand Philippines 2023 Queens intends to be more than just another batch of beauty queens, merely passing through. Instead, they hope to establish themselves as precursors to a new era of extraordinary women. With them leaving their marks and never fading away.
The Miss Grand Philippines 2023 Queens ushers in a new Golden Era
Village Pipol brought together this year’s grand court to discuss their pageant journey.
From their constant search for collective progress, personal growth, and ingenuity to the challenging realities they have encountered as well as future goals and aspirations, here are what they have to say.
Entering a new yet complicated playing field
VPM: Of all the national pageants in the country, why did you choose to join Miss Grand Philippines?
Shanon: With Miss Grand, I was able to showcase my personality and my talent. As we all know beauty pageants should be about more of the poise, to be a ‘queen’ person, but with [the pageant], I was able to showcase who I am as a person. Like how I can inspire other people with my personality.
Michelle: I felt like I resonated more with it compared to other pageants that I’ve joined. One entertainment value is the biggest thing. I wanted to expound on my capabilities and my own boundaries and be able to show my personality to the audience and really push myself. I could dress the way that I wanted and with my own personality and my branding, I want to be bold, sexy, and daring and that’s what Miss Grand is all about.
Herlene: Dahil isang malaking challenge para sa akin ang lumaban sa ganitong level and I love challenges. Life is full of challenges and kailangan natin matuto humarap at lumaban. Na kahit mag-fail ka pa, ang importante ay babangon ka.
(Because it is a big challenge for me to compete at this level and I love challenges. Life is full of challenges, and we have to learn to face and fight. That even if you fail, the important thing is that you get up.)
Nikki: Honestly it was a pretty spontaneous decision, but I sure am glad I took the step forward. I’ve always believed in the organization’s vision: empowering ladies like me to be the best version of themselves and inspire others to do the same. Miss Grand Philippines allowed our voices to be heard on a much larger scale.
Charie: I choose to join Miss Grand Philippines because of the credibility and reliability of the organization. I believe that we share the same vision which is to promote peace and I want to work closely with them while I develop myself to become a better and stronger version of myself.
Francine: Because it is a unique and independent pageant. The reputation of Miss Grand productions for being spectacular and beautiful was also a motivating factor. What excited me the most was the opportunity to deliver my advocacy during the speech round, where I can raise awareness about ‘Fighting against Sexual Harassment.
Miss Grand Philippines is not solely about the production aspect, but it offers a meaningful platform for our advocacies to reach and make an impact on the nation.
VPM: Unlike other national pageants in the country, Miss Grand Philippines didn’t initially garner much attention and interest from both pageant fans and the general public, did this in any way discouraged you?
Michelle: Even though MGI Philippines didn’t garner enough attention at first, it didn’t inhibit me from joining any less. I’ve actually been wanting to join MGI for quite some time now. I believe, and I just felt like no matter what, people are always going to rally behind their favorite candidates, and as long as you’re able to show excellence, people are going to support [you].
Francine: No, it didn’t discourage me at all. On the contrary, I became even more excited to participate in Miss Grand Philippines. Despite being the very first standalone pageant, I was confident that it would deliver an exceptional show that would exceed the expectations of people, particularly the passionate pageant fans. Miss Grand has always been a prestigious and widely talked about event, and I was eager to be a part of it.
Shanon: Well, you know, Miss Grand Philippines really did not gather a lot of pageant fans, but with this pageant, I learned about a lot of different people supporting me in this journey. And I think in this way, it encouraged me more to showcase what Miss Grand can offer in our society in the Philippines.
VPM: What was unique about Miss Grand Philippines in comparison to your prior local, national, and even international competitions?
Nikki: Miss Grand Philippines is an entirely new journey. My journey further shaped my self-confidence, resilience, and sense of purpose. From perfecting interview skills to mastering talent performances, the journey is an intensive exploration of self.
Charie: I believe that different standards were set by pageant organizers depending on their target and each one of them is unique to others. But I can say that the outpouring genuine love and concern I have felt during my Miss Grand Philippines journey is beyond compare and is something that I will forever be grateful for.
Herlene: Para sa akin, walang pagkakaiba ang lahat ng pageant, international man o local dahil iisa lamang ang layunin namin, ang makapag-bigay inspirasyon at makatulong.
(For me, there is no difference between all pageants, whether international or local because we have only one goal, to inspire and help.)
New Solutions brought by old challenges
VPM: What was your mindset when you entered the competition?
Herlene: Kinakausap ko yung sarili ko na, “kaya mo yan, Herlene. Sa lahat ng laban mo buhay, lahat kinaya mo kaya laban lang!”.
(I kept reminding myself, “You can do it, Herlene. In all the fights you’ve had in life, you’ve been able to handle everything so just fight!”.)
Francine: Entering the competition, my mindset was filled with hope and a belief that this could be my moment, where everything falls into place. Regardless of whether I am crowned or not, I am committed to giving it my all. I have no regrets, knowing that I have put forth my best efforts.
VPM: Given that you have participated in pageants before, what difficulties have you previously faced that you had to overcome again?
Nikki: My closest friends and family can attest to this. I have always been afraid of the Q and A portion! However, with more experience and more practice, I’ve learned that I’m the only one getting in my way. Once I set aside my self-doubt, I became more confident on and off the stage.
Shanon: To be honest, when I participated in pageants before one that made it so hard for me was to have a perfect team. But with Miss Grand, I don’t know but everything fell into pieces. [Because] I had the perfect makeup artist, stylists, and designers that weren’t really on the plan. But along the way, we met these people, and we had this same target which was to win.
VPM: What new facets of yourself did you learn, and how did you use that to triumph over these challenges?
Michelle: One new facet that I learned about myself is to not be so anxious about everything. To enjoy the journey more and with that, you’re able to gain integrity determination, better patience, and resiliency. Because these are all qualities that you kind of need to master in the world of pageants.
Because maybe everything will not go your way, but you’re able to gain more life skills and to triumph through the more difficult things that might be thrown at you.
Charie: I have discovered the inner strength that I have which enabled me to come out of the stage with an aura of an empowered modern-day Filipina. I have learned to be more comfortable with my own skin and to wholeheartedly embrace every inch of my being. Aside from my family and support group, I have drawn my confidence to the idea that I am enough and that I am worthy of representing my province, and that helped me a lot in overcoming all the challenges I have faced.
VPM: As with any other candidate, you had a specific crown in mind. In any parts of the competition, did you already see yourself winning a crown? What was going through your mind when you won your title?
Nikki: I know it sounds a bit cocky, but I was really aiming for the Miss Grand International Crown. I’ve been praying for it for so long! When the crown finally landed on my head (or hair lol), a roller coaster wave of emotions just overwhelmed me. It was unbelievable. I just felt grateful.
Michelle: When you join a pageant, of course, you’re aiming for the highest title, and for me, I wanted Miss Grand. But I’m also prepared to expect the unexpected and go where the judges might deem me fit, or where the organization thinks I’ll do a better job. And with my placement, I am so beyond grateful for what I got because if I can win the international title, then obviously that was what was written in the stars for me, and that is what is intended to happen, and I’m really prepared to give it my all.
Francine: During that moment, I poured my heart and soul into giving my absolute best. However, to be completely honest, I am grateful no matter which crown is bestowed upon me. Being my first national pageant experience at the age of 19, I feel immense joy knowing that I will proudly represent the Philippines with the crown on my head. This is the moment I’ve always dreamt of, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity.
Making new waves and creating new milestones
Shanon Tampon, Miss Grand Philippines 2023 1st runner-up
VPM: With your own set of responsibilities, how will you utilize this journey? Are there any opportunities in store for you during your reign?
Shanon: As a first runner-up, of course, I had to have a responsibility with the organization. Number one is to promote the pageant because Miss Grand has a lot of a lot to offer in our society. We have a lot of foundations to support and try to connect with people to understand what Miss Grand is. While helping the organization itself, I’m also helping my people to understand what pageants can do in our society.
VPM: As a pageant veteran with an international pageant under your belt, how can you use your experiences in helping your sister queens with their preparation?
Shanon: I think I could help my pageant sisters by sharing my experiences. You know, things I learned along the way, especially with Francine since she will be competing in Egypt. As we all know, I competed in Miss Elite which was in Egypt. I would give her some advice on what to expect there. From the weather conditions and what to prepare. But personally, I would love to be an ‘Ate‘ with the girls. I love sharing my pageant journey and giving them a survival guide.
VPM: With a stellar pageant career, do you consider joining Miss Grand Philippines again or any other national pageant as early as now?
Shanon: Well, I’m planning to join Miss Grand Philippines again next year. To clinch another shot at the crown, so I hope that you would support me with this. Who knows, maybe I’ll be your next Miss Grand Philippines!
Charie Sergio, Miss Grand Philippines 2023 2nd runner-up
VPM: You were considered a “darkhorse” during the competition, how does it feel to have accomplished an impressive feat as 2nd runner-up?
Charie: Being a first-time participant in the national pageant and getting a lot of attention is an accomplishment for me. I am honored that people thought I was a dark horse as it shows how much they appreciate me. Being the second runner-up is also a remarkable accomplishment that brings pride to my hometown.
VPM: With your own set of responsibilities, how will you utilize this journey? Are there any opportunities in store for you during your reign?
Charie: I believe that the primary responsibility of pageant queens is to commit themselves to help the organization in the attainment of its vision. Miss Grand Philippines is dedicated to promoting peace and camaraderie among the people and I believe that as I commit myself to helping the organization, many opportunities will also be opened in the future.
VPM: With a promising pageant career, do you consider joining Miss Grand Philippines again or any other national pageant as early as now?
Charie: Definitely yes. This is just the beginning of my journey, and I will pursue my dream because I really want to represent the Philippines internationally.
As of this writing, ALV Pageant Circle (the organization that holds the Miss Grand Philippines pageant) has yet to reveal Herlene Budol’s international competition. Nonetheless, she expresses that she more than ready and is definitely preparing for what’s to come.
In the meantime, she is currently forging a thriving acting, hosting, and modeling career.
Francine Reyes, Miss Eco Teen Philippines 2023
VPM: Since this will be your first international pageant, what are you most excited about?
Francine: I am filled with anticipation and excitement to meet my fellow Miss Eco Teen sisters and the wonderful team at the Miss Eco Teen Organization in Egypt! It’s a chance to connect with new people who will become part of my life’s journey. Miss Eco Teen holds a special place in my heart. I am genuinely thrilled about the experiences and memories that await me in this incredible pageant.
VPM: Comparing yourself to how you performed during MGPH, what new things can we expect from you as you compete in your international pageant?
Francine: I am delighted that my performance in Miss Grand Philippines 2023 left no one disappointed. People witnessed firsthand how I have grown and improved since my previous performances. I gave my absolute best during the coronation night, and I am grateful for the support. Now, I invite everyone to wait and watch out for my upcoming journey in Miss Eco Teen, which will take place in November. Exciting things are in store!
VPM: The Philippines has been doing well at Miss Eco Teen International – one crown and two first runner-up finishes in the last three editions – how are you preparing to continue this feat?
Francine: I am committed to reaching out to the previous Miss Eco Teen Philippines queens to learn from their experiences and gain insights that can help me improve. I believe that understanding their journey and the lessons they learned will be invaluable as I represent the Philippines in my own journey. I’m eager to absorb any advice that can contribute to my growth and enhance my performance in Miss Eco Teen.
VPM: In just a few months you will be representing our country and finally obtaining the Philippine sash, how does it feel to have the support of the Filipinos?
Francine: The privilege and honor of representing the Philippines with the country’s name engraved on my sash is a responsibility that I hold in high regard. With this in mind, I am wholeheartedly committed to giving my absolute best to bring back the title and crown of Miss Eco Teen to our beloved nation. I am motivated by the collective spirit of the Filipino people and their belief in my potential. Together, we will create a remarkable journey and make our nation proud.
Michelle Arceo, Reina Hispanoamericana Filipinas 2023
VPM: You’ve competed in different pageants as well as a fitness and lifestyle competition; how will you use this experience in your pageant journey?
Michelle: With all the many different types of competitions that I’ve done, of course, I’m going to be able to utilize all that I’ve learned in this upcoming pageant. Being a body and lifestyle enthusiast, I know what I can do to get myself in shape, and especially competing in Reina Hispanoamericana, all the girls have magnificent bodies. So, one thing that I can take away is being able to mold my body into being or fitting their beauty standard essentially. I know what is needed of me for this and I’m so grateful for all the experiences that I’ve learned. To give me the knowledge to be able to do this.
VPM: We’ve already seen you compete in an international pageant, what changes will you present this time at Reina Hispanoamericana?
Michelle: The biggest change that you’ll definitely see for the Reina Hispanoamericana is my performance. I’m definitely going to be working on my dance classes because, with this particular pageant, it’s extremely important that I’m able to move. Especially with Latin culture, I need to make the hips move some type of way so that is one thing that you’re going to see differently.
VPM: Finishing first runner-up in that pageant, do you believe this new redirection of yours will finally provide you with the outcome you’ve always sought– an international title?
Michelle: Yeah, there’s been a tendency for me to get first runner-up in every single competition that I’ve joined so far. I think there is a new sense of hunger and starvation, of being able to grab that international title because I was so close. I’m really hoping this was the redirection all along to lead me to where I needed to be, which is being able to wear the Philippines sash over my heart once again and getting that second crown.
VPM: RHA is very unpredictable. You embody the prototype of what we usually send to the pageant – beautiful, personable, and well-spoken. What do you think sets you apart from your predecessors that can help you win our second crown?
Michelle: My predecessors are very known in the pageant industry and they’re fierce competitors as well. With all of that, there’s a lot of high expectations that are being asked of me which I understand. Because the girls that have always gotten this crown have always done a killer job, being able to perform. One thing that I think is different for me this time around is timing. I think I’ve proven to everyone that I’m kind of a chameleon when it comes to competitions and that I’m able to conform to what is needed of me. And I know I’m going to be able to do this this time around.
Nikki de Moura, Miss Grand Philippines 2023
VPM: You’ve previously competed in both a national pageant and an international modeling competition, how will you use this experience in your pageant journey?
Nikki: Modelling and beauty pageants are a bit different, but yes there are take-aways I can bring to the table.
VPM: The Philippines has yet to win Miss Grand International, what can you bring something new that can finally win us our first golden crown?
Nikki: Such pressure! The crown has been elusive so far, that’s true. My journey is just beginning to unfold, but rest assured I am laser-focused on bringing pride to our country.
VPM: How can your participation in Miss Grand International mark the beginning of a fresh chapter for both sides given the tumultuous relationship between the pageant and the Filipinos fans?
Nikki: Personally, I think time heals all wounds. I will be carrying our flag on that stage, and I know in my heart that the country will be rallying for that crown as one!
VPM: One of your distinct characteristics is your ethnicity being Filipino-Brazilian. Perceived as an advantage for MGI since the reigning queen Isabelle Menin is from Brazil, this caused you to be quite popular among Latin-American fans with some calling you Miss Brazil rather than Miss Philippines, what’s your take on this?
Nikki: Many thanks to my Latin-American Fans who never fail to make me feel loved. I appreciate each one of you.
I may be half Brazilian and Half Filipino, but I am a hundred percent Filipino by heart. This Filipina will be proudly shouting PHILIPPINES on the MGI stage!
VPM: Heading to Vietnam for the competition and finally representing our country. As you obtain the Philippine sash, how does it feel to have the support of the Filipinos?
Nikki: I promise my supporters that I will give my 100 percent. I will do whatever it takes to make you all proud. The pressure is definitely there, but it will be my driving force to be the queen you all deserve.
Publisher | Richie de Quina & Gwynn Crisostomo
Editor-in-Chief | John Luke Chica
Senior Editor | Achilles Bamba
PR & Advertising Manager | Josh Austria
Digital Manager | Allen Esteban
Words by Vee De Serra
Hair and Makeup:
Nikki MUA | Japeth Mike Purog and Hair | MJ Rone
Michelle MUA | JR Constantino and Hair | Jaaron Go
Herlene MUA | Mary Letim Ponce and Hair | Marky Buenaobra
Francine MUA | Banjoe Hipolito Tago and Hair | Yuan Ocampo
Shanon MUA | Banjoe Hipolito Tago and Hair | Ryan Valerio
Charie MUA | Ash Lei Bantilan and Hair | Jey Flores
Silk/Pantsuit | Odelon Simpao
Swimsuit/Gown | Renz Allapitan
Swimsuit Designer | Louver Del Castillo
Earrings for swimsuit | Kataw Official
Pantsuit Designer | Louver Del Castillo
Silk Gown Designer | Angelo Taloza
Nikki | Val Taguba
Michelle | Anthony Ramirez
Herlene | Leo Almodal
Francine | Will Salvador
Shanon | Armand Marco
Charie | Rau Albaza
Director | Jas Baldoza
Assisted | Jowey Gumabay and Ashley Belison
Photographer | Jose Mendiola and Neil Villaverde
Film by | Joshua Maraña and Ivan Madriaga
Studio | Prowess Supremacy Production Inc.
Special Thanks to Arnold L. Vegafria, ALV Pageant Circle Management Inc., Miss Grand Philippines Organization
Vee De Serra is a go-getter and a writer driven by passion. When in doubt, Vee believes that "Life isn't fair but it is up to you make it one." As a city and a beach person—when the sun is out—expect Vee to spend hours getting lost in the concrete jungle or laying by the shoreline with both finishing the day by watching a beautiful sunset.