Eighteen candidates from across Canada representing the Philippines will compete in the Miss Philippines-Canada Queen Pride Pageant at New Horizon Mall in Balzac this weekend.
Candidates will strut out on stage in their festival costumes at 1 p.m. on Feb. 26.
“We will see huge colourful lighted costumes, showcasing both Filipino and Canadian culture,” said Rey Caparino, organizer and CEO of the Philippines-Canada King & Queen Pageant Corporation.
A talent show will follow the costume competition that same day. The following day, candidates will start at 1 p.m. with an advocacy speech, followed by a swimsuit competition, an evening gown competition, and a question-and-answer round.
Viewers will get a glimpse beyond the make-up and costumes into the real life struggles of each candidate, Caparino added.
“This time, it won't be a beauty pageant alone – the Miss Philippines-Canada Queen Pride 2022 goes beyond beauty and wit,” he said.
While the organization started with Mr. and Miss pageants in 2017, Caparino said members of the LGBTQ2S+ community approached him with the idea of hosting a pageant for non-binary individuals as well.
“Not only are we showcasing the beauty and wit, we're also showcasing the struggles and the triumphs and the achievements of our transgender candidates,” he said.
Caparino jumped on the idea of hosting a Pride pageant, and this year’s event at New Horizon Mall is his organization’s third competition.
“I feel that it's really important to support the [LGBTQ2S+] community because I myself am one of them,” Caparino said. “I come from the Philippines, a very conservative country, and I moved here with my then-partner and now-husband. We got married here in 2015, so being in Canada is a big deal for [the LGBTQ2S+ community] because we are being recognized.”
Despite the freedom he believes many individuals from the Philippines gained after coming to Canada, there is still a struggle and a need for the community to speak out, Caparino said, and there’s an ongoing fight for recognition and safety, and against homophobia.
“This pageant not only showcases entertainment, not only that we want them to laugh and have fun, we go beyond that, we want to share our emotions. We want them to know we are still like them, we smile, but deep in our hearts we also cry and we also fight our battles,” Caparino said.
Through the different categories of the pageant, Caparino hopes to inform and enrich people’s understanding of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Aside from the pageant being entertaining as well as informative, Caparino said people deserve to go out and enjoy an exciting event to shake off the pandemic blues.
In March 2021, Caparino found himself in an induced coma for two weeks while fighting COVID-19. He said he almost died and believes he’s still alive today in order to help the community speak out.
“I think after all the restrictions, the COVID-19 pandemic, we should go out and enjoy life. We should share laughter, share our success and triumphs with everybody,” Caparino said.
Candidates participating in this year’s pageant are arriving from across the country with a Filipino background.
Caparino said their talents are superb and their preparations of their gowns and costumes are a must-see.
“I'm really proud of these ladies because they go beyond fighting for the crown,” Caparino said.
The non-profit organization, established in Regina, Sask. in 2017, started off with a goal to organize beauty pageants for male and female candidates.
Later, the organization branched out to not only holding beauty pageants but hosting charity events to support different causes. They first raised $8,000 in support of renovations of a local catholic church in Regina and then continued raising funds for different causes.
The pageants and events showcase Filipino culture in support of a cause, Caparino said.
Another accomplishment of the organization is the initiation of a Filipino TV program, called Pinoy Talk, featuring Filipino food, travel, culture, talent, and more. The show is currently airing in Saskatchewan and coming soon to Calgary and Vancouver.
The Miss Philippines-Canada Queen Pride Pageant at New Horizon Mall is free to the public and welcomes anybody. The competitions start at 1 p.m. on both Feb. 26 and 27, and end at 6 p.m.