Binibini Leren Mae Bautista of Laguna could still remember that moment when her name was called as one of the 40 official candidates of Bb. Pilipinas 2019 pageant.

IMG 20190414 121423 - Bb Pilipinas candidate to be an advocate against bullying

(ROBERT REQUINTINA / MANILA BULLETIN)

Her name was announced second to the last among this year’s candidates.

“I was so nervous that time because there were only two girls left and there were still many qualified candidates. When my name was finally called, I told myself ‘this is it!’ ” said Bautista during a meet-and-greet event for her in Quezon City recently.

Bautista, 26, was already an international title holder before she joined this year’s Bb Pilipinas pageant. She won Miss Tourism Queen of the Year in Malaysia on Dec. 31, 2015, when she represented the Philippines as Mutya ng Pilipinas.

Now, her goal is to win one of six Bb Pilipinas crowns up for grabs during the grand coronation of the prestigious pageant which will be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on June 9.

“It took me three years to have the courage to finally decide to try Binibining Pilipinas. I don’t want to regret someday or experience that ‘what if’ moment if I will not join Bb Pilipinas,” she said.

Bautista admitted that it was her mom who encouraged her to join beauty pageants.

“I think that’s one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m thankful that I listened to her. I am very happy I made that decision,” the beauty queen said.

Considered by pageant fans as one of the front-runners, they also believe that Bautista will be a strong candidate from Laguna since Ariella Arida also of the same province who won 2nd runner-up in the Miss Universe 2013 contest held in Russia.

“I need to be fierce this time,” said Bautista. “Whatever Binibini title is given to me, I will accept it.”

With an international title to her credit, Bautista explained why she is pursuing another pageant title via Bb. Pilipinas.

“Different titles have different advocacies. In Mutya ng Pilipinas, it’s tourism. In Bb Pilipinas, they have many titles so they have various advocacies. I wanted to explore so I joined Bb Pilipinas,” she added.

For Bb Pilipinas, she is armed with an advocacy against bullying.

“The issue of bullying started when I was still in the elementary. If I will not confront this challenge now, how will I overcome this? So I encourage everyone to fight and do positive. No one deserves to be bullied,” Bautista said.

“I remember them calling me kapre or poste when I was 11 years old. I don’t know why they are doing this to me.

These name-calling continued in high school, “said Bautista, who became emotional when she narrated this to the press.

She added: ‘I was even booed during the question and answer portion of a high school pageant.”

Things have changed and she motivated herself by turning embarrassment into a form of revenge.

“I never confronted them when they bullied me. I don’t want to pick up a fight. When I see them these days, they cannot even look straight in my eyes,” Bautista said.

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