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Mela Habijan on What Sparks Her Passion and Purpose

The “Sparks Camp: Season 2” host’s willpower is taking her to new places she has never traversed, and she's learning every step of the way

In Conversation with Mela Habijan
Mela Habijan


A proud transgender woman, Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan promises herself a life of hope and following her dreams. Her future as a multimedia personality and messenger of equality extends not only to her native land, but in places beyond her territory, too.


Now taking on a new scene as an international student at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, Mela is carrying the country’s torch as a representative of talent, diversity, and determination. “I researched about it and it is one of the best business schools in the world, so [I thought], ‘Why not try it out?’” Mela shared in an exclusive conversation with Metro.Style.



“I luckily passed and now I’m here,” she carried on. “I take pride in it. I take pride to have tried out, because if not, I won’t be here. So it’s just really the ability to pass that application form, to audition, to show up so that you can take the first step.” 


In Conversation with Mela Habijan


An entrepreneur of a start-up homemade peanut butter business, Miss Mela’s Peanut Butter, Mela is harnessing a powerful recipe of success. Rejections are a staple ingredient for sure, but overcoming them is another. “I’ve always dreamt of studying abroad. In fact, my dream school was New York University. I tried out in 2011. Unfortunately, I wasn’t accepted,” Mela told us.



Out-of-bounds as it may be, Mela moved forward to continue fighting for her dreams. Her drive and passion led her to pageantry and entertainment, exploring the field of television and film. She reflected, “It’s really all about trying and believing that in every ‘no,’ there will always be a ‘yes.’”


Looking up to Oprah Winfrey, Mela wishes to follow in the footsteps of the hosting heavyweight. “It’s free to dream and because it’s free to dream, I’ll take it. And now, I’m believing in it; I’ll work hard for it. And if it happens, I will be forever grateful to the universe, to my God—to the God and to the supreme being that I believe in. If I don’t make it, at least I tried,” she said.



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Armed with her scholarship and aspirations, the host-activist hopes to take her career trajectory to the next level, saying, “One route that I thought of is education. I don’t mind investing in education because my parents are both teachers.”


A newcomer to graduate school, Mela is grateful to her parents for their priceless pieces of advice. “They’ve always taught me to value education because it brings a lot of things. And I am the way who I am right now because of the education I received from kindergarten to college and now here in my post-graduate degree,” she shared.



Before her master’s program, Mela chanced upon a unique experience as well. In 2023, she was elected as a camp participant in supermodel Coco Rocha’s modeling masterclass in New York City. In a swarm of people across the fashion arena, Mela was among the lucky ones who were given the opportunity to be mentored by the modeling A-lister.


“I tried submitting an application and then, six hours or seven hours after, I received a DM from Coco Rocha herself telling me that she wants me to be in her camp,” she narrated. “So all I needed to do was save up for the camp cost and my airfare.”



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Mela cherishes the lessons she learned from Coco. The top fashion model even encouraged the beauty queen to break stigmas and own her space. “She allowed me to really be in touch with the courage that I once lost during the pandemic and now I’m bringing what I’ve learned—every time I am in front of people, I’m in front of the camera, even by myself,” Mela opened up.


Having won the Miss Trans Global title back in 2020, Mela looked back on what claiming the crown truly meant to her and what it takes to be a true-blue leader. “When you wear the crown, it’s not about you—it’s no longer about you,” she mused.



“By the time that it was put on my head, I became a spokesperson. I spoke about the things that we need in the Philippines, the things that we need to change. I spoke about trans identity—on what Filipinos and the world should know about trans identity awareness. I spoke about the value of accepting and embracing diversity,” Mela declared, loud and proud.


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Leaving the Philippines to pursue an academic path didn’t stop Mela from dedicating herself to the cause. Her high regard for inclusivity and representation reached the waters of Spain, resonating with the principles of her LGBTQIA+ peers in the local and global landscape. 


“One thing that I am praying [for] right now is for communities, [for] homes, for nations to build an encouraging environment,” Mela continued.



“We’re not perfect, but we can be better. We can be our best, actually. If only we were encouraged, I guess the amount of insecurity of a person decreases because they will hear things that will ignite their sense of humanity.”


Dahil nakakarinig ka ng mga bagay na mabuti, nakakapuno ng pagkatao, doon magsisimula ’yung tapang. So I believe that encouragement ignites courage,” she concluded.


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As a host a.k.a. “Mother Sparker” of Sparks Camp: Season 2, a hit queer dating reality show, Mela was quick to describe the result of her stint in the series. She said, “Sparks Camp is a reflection of what it’s like to feel, to hope, to desire. And these emotions are very human because we all want to be validated, we all want to feel loved, we all want to experience romance and kilig in our lives.”



Showcasing real stories and relationships, Sparks Camp, according to Mela, is a platform for advocacies. It helps improve our understanding of queer uniqueness, and serves as a jump-off point for joint ideas and internalizations.


As to what her advice is to the Filipino audience when it comes to love, Mela asserted, “It’s okay to be single. I know that we grew up into a culture that love is our end-all, be-all. But by the time that we accept that being single is actually needed so that we can empower ourselves, we can find who we are, we can know our wants, our needs, our desires. I think that’s a valuable moment that we should hold onto.”



Premiering on June 26, 2024 on creator Black Sheep’s official YouTube channel, the second season of Sparks Camp has plenty of surprises in store. “We will be seeing vulnerability and how vulnerability is beautiful. And there will be a lot of twists in terms of confessing,” Mela hinted.


On the topic of takeaways, Mela replied with a revelation, “This season, I cried a lot because I guess being away was also a driver of discovering my vulnerability. And because I am in a vulnerable state, I understood what it’s like to be helpless. I understood what it’s like to be hopeless. I understood what it’s like to be broken. And because I know those feelings, I get to understand where the campers are coming from.”




Lead photos courtesy of Mela Habijan

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