What happens before and after a beauty pageant

Let us hear from Mr. and Ms. Chinatown 2019 winners Jonathan Chantong and Nina Tay Lee.
by Nikko Tuazon
Oct 9, 2019
Jonah Chantong and Nina Tay Lee (both in the middle) won Mr. and Ms. Chinatown 2019 last September 8, Sunday, at the pageant's grand coronation night in SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City. Stephen Lim and Lorraine Cho (both on the left side) were named 2nd runners-up. Meanwhile, Philene Yeung and Jeremiah Tomas (both on the right side) were hailed 1st runners-up.
PHOTO/S: Courtesy of Mr. and Ms. Chinatown on Facebook / Larry Leong

Each time there's a pageant, we pick our bets based on the looks, body or built, and wittiness.

And we forget that the few hours we see them on stage or on the camera is just a fraction of the entire experience

Let's hear from Jonah Chantong of Mandaluyong City and Nina Tay Lee of Pasig City. Both won as Mr. and Ms. Chinatown 2019.

On September 11, PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) sits down with them, along with first runners-up Jeremiah Tomas from Quezon City and Philene Yeung from the City of Manila; second runners-up Stephen Lim from Parañaque City and Lorrain Cho from Bulacan.

The pageant, organized by the Miss Chinatown Foundation & Fil-Chi Media Productions, Inc. (Chinoy TV), held its grand coronation night last September 8, Sunday, at SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.



PEP.ph asks the winners about their most memorable and most challenging moments before the coronation night.

For Jonah, the most memorable was the talent competition held at the Solaire Tent last August 15.

He explains, "Kasi wala akong talent, e, hindi ako sumasayaw, hindi ako kumakanta pero I still performed and it has a big impact in my life. I don't usually do that, I never do that."

Stephen also had the same experience and says, "I don't usually dance in front of a lot people, like, when I dance, sa mga close friends lang. And dancing in front of my family, parang achievement na siya for me."

For Lorraine, traveling back and forth to Manila from her hometown in Bulacan was the most challenging.

The Tourism student tells PEP.ph, "Lahat ng activities namin naka-base sa Manila and may pasok na ako nung August so kailangan ko magpabalik-balik. Mag-a-allot ako ng four to five hours na travel time from Bulacan, so puyat, ganyan."


Nina endured her fever on the day of the pageant's grand coronation night.

She recalls, "We had rehearsals in the moning and sobrang sakto, nagkasakit ako. I was bedridden the entire day like hindi ako makabangon. I was sick with fever talaga. I only needed one run ng rehearsals."

Meanwhile, Philene was able to overcome her fear of public speaking.

The 21-year-old model tells PEP.ph, "For someone na sobrang takot sa public speaking, I think nagawa ko naman yung part ko sa MOA Arena. Hindi ako nag-stutter and nasagot ko siya and eventually, I won a title, so very proud."


This year, the pageant’s theme is #BuildingBridges, which aims to "blend Filipino and Chinese cultures and give birth to the unique Chinoy identity." Each of the winners is set to promote their chosen advocacy during their reign.

Jonah aims to focus his advocacy on anti-bullying campaigns.


The 23-year-old De La Salle University graduate tells PEP.ph, "Basically, I want to motivate young adults who feel down. I want to be a good example of someone who helps them and understands bullying more.

"I want them to rise up from the challenges they're encountering and just spread the good vibes and bring in positivity lang in their lives."


Nina, on the other hand, wants to create a venue for young adults to discover their interests and passions and help them choose a career path.

The Interior Design graduate says, "Siguro those in senior high and high school na para malaman nila what their hobbies and interests are.

"I want to have seminars, career talks, more of... basically, it's to expose people to the different kinds of businesses or professions that they can possibly get into sa future para mas maka-contribute to our society and mas maging effective citizens through knowing their passion and knowing what they're good at."


Jeremiah plans to start a program called "Likhang Bayan."

The Economics student from the University of the Philippines Diliman explains, "It's a platform for Filipino entrepreneurs to socialize or have the network of the Chinese-Filipino community when it comes to mentorship, as well as yung funding and partnerships sa resources and product development.

"When we have a strong local industry, that's the only time that we'll be stronger as a country."


Philene's advocacy is to "build bridges through financial security."

The DLSU Financial Management graduate explains, "It is a financial literacy [for] young students. I plan to make it as a social media campaign awareness before I make it into a real na outreach programs, seminars, trainings, or talks. I want them to be familiarized first in social media for them to be interested.

"I plan to make it parang fun and active yung mga post ko, and yun gusto ko sila ma-inspire so that they can envision to have a better future for themselves."


Lorainne hopes to "build bridges through performing arts," a theme that is quite close to her heart.

The Bulacan State University student says, "I grew up being surrounded by lots of performers. Hindi naman yung super professional pero my dad kasi was once a theater actor, sumasali siya sa small plays. Pero yung mom ko, super ganda ng voice niya pero super shy siya, kaya hindi siya nagkaroon ng chance mag-participate sa any activities."

Lorainne adds, "Last year kasi nag-participate din ako sa Chinatown din na activity which is 'online change-maker.'

"Tapos nag-propose kami ng activities dun... Tapos may mga nakilala kaming performers at ako na-meet ko yung yung performers na wala silang space para makapag-rehearse sila. Sa kalsada lang sila nagpa-practice, sa mga court lang, nagkakasugat na sila, ganyan.

"I want to support them and give them yung talagang kailangan nila at ma-help sila na matupad yung dreams nila."


As one of this year's winners, Stephen wants to start sports-related youth programs.

He says, "Through sports, I want to help the street children of Manila and give them a glimmer of hope so that they will have a better future ahead of them. I plan to do this by partnering up with some of the organizations in Manila, and hopefully, they would agree to partner up with us."



As the country faces a number of Chinese-related issues, Filipinos of Chinese heritage are put on a difficult spot. The winners of Mr. and Ms. Chinatown 2019 hope to break stereotypes on Chinoys and end discrimination amongst Filipinos.

Nina recalls her fellow candidate Chelsea Ong's experience on being discriminated against for being Filipino-Chinese, "She's lived all her life in the Philippines, she grew up here in the Philippines.


"She was just walking along Ortigas and may racist na dumaan and sinabi sa kanya na, 'Bumalik ka na sa pinanggalingan mo...'

"Sobrang nagulat siya kasi hindi alam nung nagsabi nun sa kanya na nakakaintindi siya and she's from here in the Philippines."

Nina adds, "Hindi naman din maiiwasan na close-minded yung mga tao. I think, the best thing we can do as the winners this year is to represent the Chinoy community in the best way we can.

"And to work with Filipino and Chinese na businesses, advocates, NGOs, para maiba yung mindset or tingin sa amin."

Jonah also plans on promoting Filipino-Chinese culture and heritage through mixing modern and traditional practices.

"We want to bridge the gap between the traditional practices and the modern practices. In this way, we'll be able to solve common issues effectively and in turn, help one another."

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Jonah Chantong and Nina Tay Lee (both in the middle) won Mr. and Ms. Chinatown 2019 last September 8, Sunday, at the pageant's grand coronation night in SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City. Stephen Lim and Lorraine Cho (both on the left side) were named 2nd runners-up. Meanwhile, Philene Yeung and Jeremiah Tomas (both on the right side) were hailed 1st runners-up.
PHOTO/S: Courtesy of Mr. and Ms. Chinatown on Facebook / Larry Leong
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