If you're a world-renowned cultural and artistic connoisseur tasked to judge a huge international beauty pageant where your own country is represented, giving an unfounded and undeserved edge to a particular contender just because you share a demonym doesn't define your spirit as that of a true Filipino's. Manang is a true Filipino and she did NOT do that.
Shamcey Supsup, the Republic of the Philippines' contestant in the 2011 Miss Universe pageant bagged not the crown itself, but the 3rd runner-up's spot. At the outset, an average Juan would think that Lea Salonga's presence in the panel of judges might give Supsup some sort of advantage over the others. However, it just doesn't work that way with her. Do you think the Chinese-blooded judge Connie Chung voted China for the crown? No! As a matter of fact, she didn't. Those nine judges were among the world's most trusted and respected public figures and they were selected to sit there for very good reasons.
Lea was given the privilege to ask Miss Angola's final question -- one that was given to her. Contrary to popular belief, Lea did not formulate that question on her own. None of them did.
This piece of fact particularly goes to all those who, for some reason, think she purposely made it easy on her. She did not. As a matter of fact, that question was just as simple as the ones the four other ladies were given. Her answer just happened to be sensible. It was not particularly worthy of a kiss from Josh Groban (and I'm using his name because he's both gorgeous and intelligent and I know he's capable of gauging other peoples answers to such questions), but it wasn't bad either. She's not a genius, but she most certainly isn't obtuse! Above all, it was her rich scorecard throughout the rest of the pageant that caused her to leave Credicard Hall with the Miss Universe crown on her head. It's as simple as that.
Leila Lopes (Miss Angola) graced the stage with her knock-out smile and exquisite physique, oozing with charisma. She had obvious self-possession. Plus, she has a strong track record of active advocacy. Now, if you're a sensible judge in a beauty pageant whose winner is supposed to help spread social causes all over the world, wouldn't you choose her? Wouldn't your loftiest score go to the one who has exactly what you're looking for?
In my opinion, whether or not she had answered that question the way she did, she would still have won.
And here's another interesting thing to note:
All of the judges UNANIMOUSLY voted that Miss Angola should wear that crown - including Lea herself.
This is why Lea Salonga is a true Filipino. She persisted in doing what was right based on an intellectual decision rather than giving in to the emotional temptation of letting her country's representative have her top vote.
There are a lot of defining factors.
What makes us true Filipinos is not simply our blood. Among many things: it is our ability to uphold impartiality as a basic principle; it is our ability to make respect and rationality reign over fanaticism; it is our ability to hold true to our values.
The last time I checked, I didn't see "irrational hating" on the list of such ideal values. The people hating on Lea because she didn't capitalise on the opportunity to make Shamcey Supsup win the pageant are the ones who aren't true Filipinos. They're just Filipinos by blood, but their sets of values are akin to traditional corrupt politicians'!
I'm a proud Filipino and I'm proud of my country, but that doesn't mean I slurp up everything offered to me in the name of the nation. Shamcey was very good, but I never really rooted for her. My top vote went to Miss Ukraine whose answer to the question thrown at her was really, really good. Miss Angola was second in line for the precious gem that she was, while Miss Philippines came as a close third choice. I couldn't help it. Those two were really just so much better than her.
In the end, though, my bet didn't bag the crown, but who am I to argue with nine people who are obviously superior to me in this arena of decision-making? The public's opinions will remain opinions, while the judges' decisions are decisions. End of debate.
Dumb people would never understand.