A new face is beginning to make waves in the beauty pageant industry and, soon, the entire Filipino nation will know her name.
Maria Corazon Abalos, lovingly called by all as Corrine, just made her debut as one of the candidates of this year’s Miss Universe Philippines and is already rising through the ranks as among the favorites in the competition—even garnering the support of Multimedia Queen Kris Aquino.
A beauty queen in the making
To those who know Corrine, being among the top contenders of the pageant shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, her mother, incumbent Mandaluyong Mayor Menchie Abalos, was also a former contestant of Binibining Pilipinas in the 80s and has done much to foster an interest in the beauty pageant scene in her daughters growing up. But Corrine is set to prove that this journey is her own and that she is a force to be reckoned with.
“Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of beauty pageants. I was exposed to the idea of being a candidate,” Corrine shared with When In Manila. “My mom’s friends would always try to get me to join pageants, but I had always made excuses not to. I wanted to finish my studies, graduate college first, and I just wasn’t ready yet.”
That is until early this year when she was approached by a representative from the Aces and Queens beauty camp whether she was interested in joining Miss Universe Philippines that she decided it was finally time. “I just said, why not? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I don’t want to let it pass me by again.”
New kid on the block
What seemed like a spontaneous decision actually took a lot of courage and confidence for this 23-year-old Mandaleño who had no prior experience in the industry at all. The past weeks have just been a constant battle of overcoming her insecurities of being a complete newbie compared to all the other contenders vying for the coveted crown. At the same time, she has to deal with the pressure of meeting people’s great expectations knowing that she comes from a prominent family and is following in her mother’s footsteps.
“It’s my first time joining a beauty pageant so obviously, I had hesitations. In my mind, I was thinking: ‘Oh no, am I actually ready for something this big right away?’ I have no prior pageant experience—not even the smaller ones, not even the local pageants. I had to learn everything from scratch,” she said.
But there’s one thing her handler taught her that has since become her mantra throughout her Miss Universe Philippines journey: to take everything one day at a time.
“During my first-ever photo shoot, I told my handler how scared I was that I don’t know how to pose because I’m not a model and I don’t have prior training. But she told me, ‘Don’t overthink! Don’t feel pressured, just take it day by day and we’ll be there to guide you,’” Corrine recalled.
“It’s all in the mind, I guess. It’s really just believing in myself and trusting the process.”
Disabled but empowered
All her fears aside, Corrine enthusiastically admitted that she is enjoying the experience so far and is greatly motivated by her desire to share her advocacy with the nation and, hopefully, the world.
“My advocacy is about scoliosis awareness. I myself have scoliosis. I was diagnosed maybe around 11 or 12-years-old. It’s a disorder that I’m really passionate about because I suffer from it and my scoliosis is quite severe. You can’t really see it that much because my mom’s friends taught me how to fix my posture at a young age,” she explained.
She told us how this health issue has affected her life growing up and how it has made her conscious of her body. But being able to stand confidently in front of cameras proves that she will not allow herself to be limited by her condition—and, in doing so, hopefully inspire others to free themselves from the inhibitions of their disabilities as well.
“I want to share it with the youth especially that you don’t really have to be insecure about [your disabilities]. It’s a part of you and it won’t really stop you from doing what you’re meant to do. I’m joining a pageant and it’s not stopping me from being a good contender versus the other contestants.”
“Sometimes it’s just the little things that you focus on and other people won’t even see it, it’s just you,” she added. “Just accept yourself and really just be confident about it.”
Beauty, brains, and heart
Truly, Corrine is well on her way to show Pinoys that she’s not only a morena beauty but that she also has brains and a big heart.
Having graduated from De La Salle University in 2019 with a degree in International Studies, majoring in European Studies, she spent nearly a year in Spain teaching English to kindergarten children. Upon coming home in July 2020, she then started an online agricultural business with her older sister called Cora’s Seafood Market. When she isn’t doing work or preparing for the pageant, she chooses to pass her time reading thriller novels, binging True Crime documentaries, and supporting her favorite Formula One teams.
She’s just like any regular young Filipina—and she definitely has a lot to prove. Corrine has her eyes set on inspiring everyone that no dream is too big, not even for an inexperienced newbie, as long as you put your heart and mind into it.
“Don’t be scared to follow your dreams! Honestly, I never actually thought that I would go through with this because I never really saw myself as the typical beauty queen. I’m not as tall as the other girls, I wasn’t as fit either prior to this,” she shared.
“So just really believe in yourself because you’ll never know what can happen or where fate will lead you if you just try things out of your comfort zone. You won’t regret it. It might actually be a blessing.”
Corrine is currently part of the Top 75 Miss Universe Philippines hopefuls. Out of this 75, 50 contestants will move on to the next part of the competition and fly to Manila for face-to-face interviews. The final 30 will then be announced on August 31, 2021, and will compete in the coronation night to be held on September 25.
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