EXCLUSIVE: Bb. Pilipinas International 2019 Bea Patricia Magtanong On Using Her Newfound Fame To Be Of Service To Others
She's armed with a killer combination of tantalizing good looks, an instinct for perfection, effortless poise, and a heart of gold. To the thousands who have adored this lawyer and beauty queen rolled into one since her coronation on Binibining Pilipinas' final night, Bb. Pilipinas International 2019 Bea Patricia "Patch" Magtanong has it all.
Yet to those who know her best, they realize that her most winning quality goes beyond what the eye perceives; underneath appearances lies a deep well of relatability and humility, one filled with the admission that she is, in fact, a work in constant progress.
Like an unassuming piece of coal waiting to transform into a priceless diamond, she quietly maintains focus and keeps her eye on the prize, improving every step of the way to shed any and all hints of dullness to reveal the sparkle within.
Slow and steady is the name of the game for this queen, and in the end, she promises Filipinos with a hand on her heart, the wait will be well worth it.
"This year, I pushed myself past my limits through joining the pageant. This is the most uncomfortable thing that I've ever done, but it's also the most transformative. You're never going to grow if you stay where you're familiar. I'm very happy to say that I'm a better person [now]. I'm different because of this pageant and it gave me more confidence to try more things and not be afraid to fail," shares Patch, a morena stunner who stands close to six feet tall and whose signature features are her doe eyes and twin dimples.
They're not the words you expect to come from a woman with a roster of achievements like hers—a model at 17 years old, an undergraduate degree holder in Business Economics from the University of the Philippines, a bar-passing lawyer, a staunch social advocate, and now, a beauty queen—but alas, be careful not to mistake Patch for a wilting flower.
In reality she's ambitious and strong, forward-thinking and a game-changer. She simply chooses to unleash the fierceness and intensity after she knows she has earned the right to show them off—a special sort of deliberateness that she believes will be her edge come the Miss International 2019 competiton.
"Sometimes, I don't do things and don't even try from fear of failing. I stay in my comfort zone, and only do the things that I know that I can do so there's no disappointment. Just this year when I joined Binibining Pilipinas, I realized the value of failing. I realized that failure isn't anything to be ashamed of. It doesn't make you any less of a person"
It's an unusual approach to pageantry, she admits, but she's a hundred percent okay with walking down the path less traveled. In fact, she prefers it. Patch basks in a good challenge and believes that the pressure that comes with it can only be good for her.
The quality, she credits her mom and dad for, both of whom contributed to her upbringing in different but in equally important ways; her mom was the no-nonsense parent who appreciated the value of hard work, and her dad—who is also a lawyer—was a passionate, charismatic visionary. Together, they taught Patch to dream and dream big, but at the same time, to be prepared with making the sacrifices necessary to see it materialize.
Since she was little girl leading the troop composed of herself and her two little brothers, they've always known that she would be ready for a journey like this. And now that she's taken its first leaps, they commit to be with her until the finish the line, ready with applause and cheers no matter the outcome.
"They've been so supportive—especially my parents. My mom made it so easy for me; everything I needed and wanted during the pageant season, she'd give to me. [She'd] arrange the tickets for the fans, help in making the T-shirts and props, buy food for fans who'd come to support. When I got sick, she'd buy me medicine, get my clothes, things like that. It was obvious that they are very, very proud," Patch smiles.
"My mom is an excellent person; she only accepts excellence and that's where I got it from. Even if, when I was a child, she was a little bit hard on me—she wanted me to be an honor student, obedient, perfect—those values I carry with me today and I'm very, very grateful that she wasn't lenient on me. I've achieved so much. My dad is more lenient, but he still had a great influence on me"
But a family's support can only go so far, and when it'll be her turn onstage to give her all under the klieg lights, Patch acknowledges she'll only have herself to rely on. But not to worry—she's had practice in that area too, and lots of it.
As a working student, she had learned to steer her own life from an early age. Patch was a 16-year-old college freshman, who voluntarily weaved modeling with academics, sure to never compromise one for the sake of the other. (Pageantry was even completely out of the question at one point; it was only in her final year of law school that she had decided to take the chance).
Reflecting on this time that now feels like a lifetime ago, Patch swells with pride in knowing that she was able to accomplish all that and more—the cherry on top being her completion of her second degree in law and earning the title of Attorney.
"My dad is a lawyer, so it's always been at the back of my head. It was always an option. Obviously, my dad didn't force me. He didn't require me to take up law, so there was no pressure for me. I decided for myself," she reveals.
"I graduated feeling very unfulfilled. I didn't understand [my undergraduate degree], and I didn't see myself doing it for the rest of my life. So I thought, I like to read, I'm good at memorizing, I'm very argumentative, [and] I always have palusot, so why not take the [Law Aptitude Examination]? I passed, and tuloy-tuloy na. I loved it. I loved it so much. I feel like it's my passion, that it's my calling. I'm very lucky that I was able to find that," she adds.
"Law school was very humbling for me. I knew that I was smart, but I wasn't going to get anywhere if I didn't sacrifice that much"
Red gown by Mark Bumgarner | Velvet top and sequined pants by Randy Ortiz
By just being herself, Patch becomes an example for the new breed of Filipina queens: not only beautiful but also brave and smart with a point to make, a message to share.
And speaking of sharing messages, there's one in particular that Patch wishes to speak more of even though it might be difficult to do so: her advocacy of improving conditions in jails and shedding light on the need to uphold the rights of persons deprived of liberty despite the crimes they've been convicted of.
She pauses mid-sentence as she divulges this, a reaction likely conditioned by the responses—many, if not most, of them negative—that she's received from people she tells this to. She's aware that her choice of advocacy isn't beautiful or heartwarming, or in her words, "not 'beauty pageant.'" But controversy isn't something she shies away from, not with her background in law that has taught her to fight against injustice, and for equality.
Yet again, Patch is a different kind of queen this way, and she embraces it with open arms.
"There's so much injustice in this world, especially that [caused] by poverty. People with privilege, like me, the least we can do is help and temper that inequality. That's really what I wanted to fight for. It's not a popular advocacy... But that's what's in my heart. I got a lot of backlash from it, but no. If you experience it and research about it, you will understand where I'm coming from. I'm glad that through this platform, people are supportive of it. They understand it more," Patch points out.
"...These people are humans, too. They made a mistake and they're paying for it. The least you can give them are the rights afforded to them [by] the law. That was a huge turning point in my life"
To date, raising awareness of her top advocacy is one of the most meaningful things she's done as a beauty queen. It's also one of the things about the industry that has surprised her the most; never in a million years did she think she would be given such a wide sphere of influence, or a voice loud enough for people to pay attention to.
"I didn't understand that as an outsider. Now, every day, I get messages [from people who say], 'Patch, you inspire me so much,' or, 'I want to go to law school,' or 'Your advocacy opened my eyes to the conditions inside jails...' I think that's the best thing we can get from our title: lend our voice and contribute ourselves to a cause. It's more than just being beautiful, using endorsements, and competing abroad. It's also using your fame to be of service to other people," Patch says a matter-of-factly.
Even before competing for the title she so greatly deserves, Patch has already made a difference. And that in itself should be enough for Filipinos to salute her, because what has always mattered to her wasn't the crown or sash. It's what they stood for, what would allow her to do for the betterment of society.
Of course, a queen like Patch knows when to let loose and simply enjoy what's in front of her, too. She's a serious gal at heart but isn't one to miss out on all the fun things that life has opened up for her. Things like makeup lessons from Indonesian makeup guru and pageant fave Albert Kurniawan, opportunities to travel the Philippines, train with the best coaches in the industry, and even have time to learn randomly playful skills (ukulele playing and penny board riding included) when time allows it are some of the things that bring a smile to her face.
Right now, when asked if she's happy about where she is, she'll look into the distance and surprise you with yet another unforeseen answer: it depends.
"There's a quote that I posted when I graduated from law school last year: 'Bloom where you are planted.' And I think that's exactly who I am. You can't always have control over the situation you're in, but you can control your attitude towards it. So you make the most out of what you're given, and you learn to play the cards that you're dealt. That's exactly who I am."
In other words, it doesn't matter where Patch finds herself, but what she makes out of a situation; good or bad, it can always be good if you make it so.
Resilience and flexibility—they're two other traits that Patch is happy to have. Invisible as they might be, they shine through bright enough for everyone around her to see.
"Perfect happiness—that's something that seems impossible if you think about it objectively. But in yourself, you can be perfectly happy no matter what you're going through... If you derive optimism and hope from the bad things happening in your life, you can be perfectly happy"
Patch has four months until she travels to Japan where she'll compete with other women from around the world for the coveted title. The most recent Filipina to bring home the Miss International crown was Kylie Verzosa, who is now an up-and-coming actress and TV personality; Kylie bagged it in 2016, while the fresh-faced Ahtisa Manalo finished as first runner-up last year.
Understandably, Patch has a lot on her mind at the moment—including perfecting her walk and preparing for her winning speech—and is swamped with commitments as one might imagine. But if there's anything she wishes she was ready with, it's knowing exactly the kind of woman that Miss International is looking for so she can prepare accordingly.
It's where her perfection will come in handy, she teases.
"I want to do exactly what they ask me, because I want to do well in the competition. I'm willing to give my heart and soul to bring glory to the Philippines!" she declares.
"That desire to improve myself is my edge. I know I'm going to carry it to the competition"
"Binibining Pilipinas was such an amazing experience and I can only imagine that the Miss International pageant is going to be even more fulfilling and exciting. I'm excited about pushing myself and trying even more out of the box experiences. I would have to make friends with people from different countries, and I've never, ever done that before! I don't think many people get the chance to be immersed in that kind of culture and situation. I'm excited about growing more as a person in this competition," Patch says as a closing thought.
And while it's easier said than done to enjoy the ride no matter what happens, she's trying her best to do so. No regrets, she has told herself since joining the pageant, and definitely no looking back now that she's gone this far. The only way to go is up and forward, and even if bowing out to another country during the competition's final leg is a possibility, Patch continues to invest her all.
"I lived so much in fear of what I didn't know that it prevented me from doing more things, branching out, meeting new people, joining contests, or even taking up lessons because I was afraid of being judged for not knowing anything. But that's always the first step to everything—to try and venture out into new things that you might not be good at. But that's the first step, and you can only get better. I hope it's not too late for me to start living my life that way," she ends.
The pageant's results may still be far in the future, but one thing's for sure: Bb. Pilipinas International 2019 Bea Patricia Magtanong, or Attorney Patch as others might prefer, has already succeeded.
Crown or no crown, title or no title, she's already a queen worthy of respect and adoration, and for all the right reasons.
Read our exclusives on the other reigning Binibining Pilipinas queens:
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography by Seven Barretto
Creative direction by Chookie Cruz
Makeup by Muriel Vega Perez
Hairstyling by Brix Batalla
Styling by Bonita Penaranda
Video producer: Joan Ko
Videography by Spotlight Creatives
Shoot assistants: Angelica Montoro and Renee Nuevo
Shot on location at Cove Manila in Okada - New Seaside Drive, Entertainment City, Parañaque
Special thanks to Annie Alejo and Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc.