Cagayan de Oro relaunches annual beauty pageant after 2 years of lockdowns

Organizers say they are preparing to hold this year’s Search for Miss Cagayan de Oro face-to-face and stage it the way they did during pre-pandemic times

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The city has relaunched on Saturday, July 9 the annual search for Miss Cagayan de Oro, which will culminate in a city-wide feast day in August, more than two years after COVID-19 lockdowns forced organizers to call off merrymakings and gatherings.

The annual search has been a tradition in Cagayan de Oro since the 1920s even before the old Cagayan de Misamis town became a chartered city. Prior to the pandemic, it was only called off during World War II.

For two years, the pageant was relegated only to virtual viewings on local cable television and social media.

SUSPENDED. A Search for Miss Cagayan de Oro contestant is suspended from a bamboo pole during the talent competition on Saturday, July 9. After two years, the annual beauty pageant is back, face to face. Froilan Gallardo/Rappler

Organizers of this year’s Search for Miss Cagayan de Oro said they are preparing to hold the event face-to-face and stage it the way they did during pre-pandemic times, when thousands went to see the coronation night.

“After two years of absence, we are back,” said Mags Cue, the lead organizer of the Search for Miss Cagayan de Oro 2022.

On Saturday, organizers publicly presented for the first time 14 young women vying for the much-coveted crown during a talent competition.

Cue said the pageant would culminate on August 27, the eve of the city-wide Feast of Saint Augustine, the patron saint of the predominantly Catholic Cagayan de Oro.

COLORFUL DANCE. A contestant in colorful costume dances during the Search for Miss Cagayan de Oro 2022 talent competition on July 9. (Froilan Gallardo/Rappler)
Pageant history

Cagayan de Oro historian Agnes Paulita “Nanette” Roa said the idea of holding an annual beauty pageant was first introduced to Cagayan de Oro during the American occupation in the 1920s, patterned after the beauty pageants staged in the United States.

When liberation came, officials of the then municipal government of Cagayan de Misamis decided to relaunch the pageant in 1946 to boost residents’ morale.

“That year, the title was changed to Miss Star of Liberation,” Roa said.

Cagayan de Misamis would be officially renamed Cagayan de Oro a few years later when it became a chartered city.

Roa said many of the guests during the 1946 relaunch were American military officers and soldiers, and Filipino guerrillas who fought to liberate the town and the bigger Misamis province from Japanese forces.

As a tribute to the winner, Roa said, she was made to ride a decorated US armored personnel carrier and be paraded throughout the city, a tradition done to this day.

The first-ever search was held in 1928, and the first winner was Amparo Chaves, who was chosen based on three criteria: beauty, family background, and breeding.

“The judges were very strict on these (criteria), and it was a great pride for the families whose daughters were chosen to be Miss Cagayan de Oro,” Roa said. –