4 August 2009, 7:15 pm by Sharon Tan Shu Lin
Opening Address by Guest-of-Honor
Mrs Lim Hwee Hua
Minister, Prime Minister’s Office and
Second Minister for Finance and Transport
This year’s Miss Singapore World 2009 Grand Finals held on 31 August 2009 was a pageant with a difference.
Held at the Island Ballroom at the prestigious Shangri-La Hotel, it was a unique collaboration; in conjunction with the Down Syndrome Association of Singapore’s (DSA) annual charity gala dinner — “Mystique III”. Gracing the event was Guest-of-Honor, Lim Hwee Hua, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and Transport.
During the pre-event cocktail, City News spoke to Faraliza Tan, winner of Miss Singapore World 2008, who had the following words of wisdom for the upcoming winner, ‘Never let fame get to your head; when you are not wearing the crown, that’s when it is the true you. There needs to be a level of sincerity and humility in the way we carry our title.’
A recent graduate with a Bachelor Degree in Mass Communications from Nanyang Technological University, she shares that her experiences as a pageant winner has helped her to be more confident and to be a promoter of charitable causes as the ambassador for Action for AIDS.
Melissa Teo, Valentane Huang and Genecia Luo (from left to right)
Making an appearance at the gala was Genecia Luo, winner of Miss Singapore International 2006/2007; Valentane Huang, winner of Miss Singapore Tourism Queen 2009, Miss Singapore Chinatown 2008/2009 and Miss Singapore Global Beauty Queen 2008; and Melissa Teo, winner of Mrs Singapore Global Beauty 2010. Teo is currently very active in charity work, chairing an online forum that helps single mums.
Beyond the usual pageant segments such as the swim wear and evening gown segments, each section of the competition was interspersed with performances from past pageant winners, as well as fundraising activities for DSA.
The DSA Dance Ensemble put up a rousing dance number to the Bollywood hit “Jai-Ho”, which got the crowd grooving. Decked in psychedelic costumes, members of the DSA Dance Ensemble synchronized dance movements with precision and rhythm, which is a testament that persons with Down Syndrome are not with gifting and talent.
Past pageant winners of children beauty contests made their appearance on stage as well. Carrying confidence beyond their age, past Miniature Miss World winners entertained the crowd with angelic voices.
All proceeds of “Mystique III” will go to DSA, including table sales, auctions of Persian carpets and paintings by persons with Down Syndrome.
In the final moments of the gala dinner, the entire ballroom was charged up with anticipation as the Top 8 grand finalists selected sashayed on stage in their evening wear. The announcement of the Top 3 winners took place just a few moments after with tensed silence as the envelope containing the name of the winner was opened.
Pilar Arlando, a 19 year old student came in second runner-up; Claire Lee, a 22 year old graduate won the first runner-up position and Ris Low, a 19 year old student won the title of Miss Singapore World 2009.
Ris Low, currently pursuing a double diploma in travel & tourism as well as nursing, won a total of five awards — Best Dressed, Dazzling Eyes, Best Catwalk and Most Photogenic. With one of the largest cohort of supporters, Low also bagged the award for highest charitable donations via table sales and advertisements at the gala.
Claire Lee, Ris Low and Pilar Arlando (from left to right)
In an exclusive closed-door interview with the pageant winners, City News got up close and personal with Oxy Ong, 20 year old student and winner of the Miss Singapore Model of the World Award. “I have gained valuable experience from this pageant in terms of learning to give back to society.”
(From Top left:)
On her future plans, second runner-up, Pilar Arlando commented, “I am going to continue volunteering with DSA and be more active in helping to raise funds for individuals with Down Syndrome, to help them better integrate into mainstream society.”
Claire Lee, first runner-up, shared with City News that she wants to break the stereotyped notion that people have of beauty queens. “I want to personally embody a person who possesses both beauty and intelligence, who is actively engaging different people from many different cultures.” Lee herself is a multi-linguist, fluent in languages such as Thai, French and German.
“I have a heart for needy children, especially in the slums in India. I do hope to be able to travel to countries like these such as Nigeria and South Africa, so that I can help to bring about sustainable change to young lives,” said Sonia Sawlani, winner of Miss Goodwill and Miss Singapore Globe Award.
Speaking to the newly crowned Miss Singapore World 2009, City News finds out what is Low’s most valuable lesson learned throughout the pageant. “Winning this title has helped me realized that one can always fulfill one’s dreams and be confident. I am excited to represent Singapore at the Miss World Finals in South Africa and I want to do our nation proud.”