Miss Fil-Am Florida 2017: Proudly Filipina!
Report: Raymund Thom Golez | Managing Editor
Photos: Lorna Smith | Contributing Photographer
TAMPA, Florida – “Brains, Beauty and Culture“, three words that would definitely best describe the roster of candidates of this year’s Miss Fil-Am Florida beauty pageant. Now on it’s third year, five equally gorgeous and stunning young ladies comprised the line-up for this year’s search, representing their family’s hometowns in the Philippines competed for the crown. The pageant is the brainchild of Filipino American Social Club, Inc. (FASC), an organization dedicated to promoting cultural awareness, conducting community service, and pursuing charitable endeavors across the Tampa Bay area. The coronation night was held on August 26 at the Grand Bayshore Ballroom of Hilton Hotel in Downtown Tampa, Florida.
Twenty-nine years old Miami-born Madeleine Knowles representing Cagayan de Oro, Philippines bagged the coveted crown of Miss Fil-Am Florida 2017. A graduate of Business Administration degree from Florida Inernational University, Knowles is a young entrepreneur who co-founded Prosperity Apparel Inc., an online boutique featuring a collection of stylish women’s apparel. She easily clinched the crown when she aced the final round of the competition when she answered the final question, “As the FASC Ambassador, what charities would support and why?”, Knowles responded: “As the FASC Ambassador, I would like to promote advocacy program on developing research on literacy experiential program in schools focusing on entrepreneurship development which would help create long-term solutions to supply the needs of the people“. Knowles was also regarded as the friendliest candidate after also winning the Miss Congeniality special award.
Knowles says she decided to participate in the Miss Fil-Am Florida pageant for the opportunity to make an impact and give back to the Filipino community through creating awareness and raising funds to help reduce poverty in the Philippines.
Coming in second place (first runner up) is Joy Marie Rose from Spring Hill, Florida representing Bataan, Philippines. Rose won several major special awards including Best in Swimsuit, Best in Cultural Costume, and Best in Evening Gown, along with the People’s Choice Award. April Weitzell of Tampa, Florida representing Pampanga, Philippines clinched the Second Runner Up title and Best in Talent special award. While Jeanette Benedicto of Orlando, Florida representing Camarines Sur, Philippines and Maria Nuguid of Tampa, Florida representing Manila, Philippines were Third and Fourth Runners Up respectively.
“It is of great pride and honor for me to handle and organize Miss Fil-Am Florida pageant. it is now becoming as one of the most anticipated event in Tampa among the Filipino-American communities. I am thankful that through our team’s effort and unity, we were able to produce it as excellently as we could“, pageant director Erica Gerbolingo declares. “We were very overwhelmed and thankful, as well, to the undying support of the Filipino-American community.
This year’s batch of candidates underwent strong and impressive scrutiny from the distinguished Board of Judges composed of notable personalities in their own respective field of expertise, which includes: Mr. Arnell Biglete, Chair of the Philippine Cultural Foundation; Mr. Rocky Barrido, Gawad Kalinga USA Coordinator; Mr. David Duggan, former NFL Player and The Bachelorette reality tv star, Ms. Riza Asa, entrepreneur and Mrs. Asia Classic International Tourism 2016; Mr. Gary Schaaf, entrepreneur and company shareholder; Mr. Patrick Ruddell, entrepreneur and socialite; Mr. Raymund Thom Golez, pageant coach & trainer and Founder & Managing Editor of Life N Style Central online magazine; and Mr. Joey Omila, Cultural Affiars Director of PCFI.
“For me, the candidates were all equally qualified to win the title. And I would like to personally thank each and everyone of them for the time, effort, and sacrifices they made in preparing for this pageant, and their support of the FASCI’s chosen charity for the year. I wish them all the great happiness and success in the future“, declares Ms. Gigi Gerbolingo Smith, FASC President.
The winner of Miss Fil-Am Florida 2017 and her court of beauties will be greatly involved in charity work and community service development along with FASC. Madeleine Knowles will fly to the Philippines early next year to be part of the Gawad Kalinga outreach program.