Selena Antonio-Reyes blazes trail as first mom to compete in national pageant

SELENA Antonio-Reyes breaks grounds as the first mother and married woman to compete n Miss Universe Philippines.

With the rules changed and barriers removed in the popular international beauty pageant Miss Universe and its franchises, many women are encouraged to compete and show their potentials that are once restrained.

One of them is fitness enthusiast and model Selena Alexis Antonio-Reyes, who is the official Miss Universe Philippines candidate from Pasig City. At 38 years old, she is likely the oldest candidate to compete in a national pageant, breaking grounds for women. She also made history as the first mother and married woman in the Philippines to compete in a national pageant.

ANTONIO-REYES being given the sash as the official Miss Universe Philippines candidate of Pasig by Curlee and Zarah Discaya of St. Gerrard Construction and Realty

Born in the barangay of Bagong Ilog and now residing in Kapitolyo, Antonio-Reyes is no stranger to beauty pageants. In 2010 and then unmarried, she competed at the 47th Binibining Pilipinas Pageant. With age limit then still in place and other restrictions, she focused on marriage, her children Theon and Savi, and work after the pageant. She is also focused in sports and fitness. She has earned the distinction of having finished two of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors, and won the bronze medal at the 2022 Spartan Asia-Pacific Championship. She also won in the Ageless category of Century Tuna’s Superbods 2022.

With new developments in Miss Universe, she was chosen by franchise holder, St. Gerrard Construction and Realty (SGC), as the city’s candidate to MUP.

“Selena embodies the beauty, brilliance, and grace of the modern Filipino woman,” SGC vice-president Zarah Discaya explained. “She has carried her gifts well into her life and the way she overcame her mental and physical struggles after becoming a mother serves as an inspiration to all of us. Selena would be a most worthy candidate to present the essence of modern Philippine femininity to the world and take it to victory.”

SELENA Antonio-Reyes with her kids, Theon, 11, and Savi, 9.

Antonio-Reyes was formally introduced to the public through a sashing ceremony on 15 February at the SCG office in Pasig City, where she answered questions on here return to pageantry, beauty, her advocacy and her family.

Antonio-Reyes with Miss Universe Philippines Pasig 2023 Kali Navea-Huff. | Photograph by Roel Hoang Manipon for the Daily Tribune

Roel Hoang Manipon (RHM): What do you think about pageantry now and its recent developments?

Selena Antonio-Reyes (SAR): I’m happy to be back again, in the world of pageantry. I’ve done it way too long ago already. So, I’m just happy and enjoying that there’s a lot of new rules and there’s a lot of new stuff that’s welcoming all of us, especially me, a mom, a 38-year-old woman. Like I also have my dreams and want to continue what I want to do in life. Miss Universe Organization has opened its doors for all of us.

RHM: This year’s Miss Universe Philippines is considered very competitive. What is your mindset right now?

SAR: My mindset is just to focus on myself. I think with my age and my experience in life, they already have set me apart from all the younger girls competing this year. So, I think I’m just gonna focus on myself, do what I do, what I know what I do best at, and just give it a 100 percent of who I really am.

RHM: What is the reception of your family now that you are competing again?

SAR: Well, my kids and my family has always been my number-one support system. Ever since I joined pageants, even for work, they have always been there for me, cheering me…They’ve graciously accepted what I love doing, which is modeling, doing pageants, trying to inspire women, trying to inspire moms that there’s no age limit if you want to be someone, if you want to achieve something in your life.

RHM: How are you going to be different from other contestants?

SAR: With age, as you know, comes experience and then with motherhood comes your purpose. Compared to all the other women, I think I have had more life experiences. And I think that’s my edge over them—I am older, I’m wiser, and I have something new to bring to the table as well my family and my kids.

RHM: Who are you most excited to see in the competition?

SAR: I’m most excited to meet Alexie [Brooks of Iloilo]. Actually, all my girls. I’ve been scrolling through them, trying to read through their profiles. I’m excited to meet actually all of them. I mean, I’m sure I’m going to learn something new from all of them, each one of them. I also know that I’m one of the oldest in this batch for 2024. I am used to hanging around kids. I mean, I have two kids. So, I’m also excited to meet each and every one of them and learn life experiences from them as well.

RHM: What led you to decide to finally join Miss Universe Philippines?

SAR: Well, I think the easiest answer is when the age limit was lifted, of course, I would always say yes. Opportunity comes once. So, why not try it now? I mean, beauty pageants, or pageantry is the biggest platform for our voices to be heard, for our advocacies to be heard. So, I want to maximize this platform so that I can reach as many women, as many mothers, [to tell them] that it’s not too late whoever you want to be. As long as you set your mind and heart to it, you can always achieve what you want to achieve in life.

RHM: What can you offer in this competition?

SAR: I can offer myself as a woman, a mother, an athlete, a wife, a daughter, and someone who can shrug things off when people say that your dreams are not valid, you’re already over, you cannot compete anymore, you cannot be whoever you want to be. I want to challenge and push everybody that it’s not too late to try. I mean opportunities come once so why not grab that opportunity, make the most out of it and push forward? You’ll never know if the universe aligns for you.

RHM: What’s your advocacy all about?

SAR: My advocacy is about resilience. Whatever you face, any hurdles that you pass through in life, you must always look forward. I mean, women go through a lot, mothers go through a lot. And then when they go through a lot, it damaged us or it puts a strain on their mental health. So, with that, I want women, I want mothers to look at motherhood in another perspective, in another light—that you can always link mental health with positivity, you can link health with fitness. And that’s the perfect link that I found for me struggling with mental health and my physical fitness.

RHM: How would you want your kids and your family define beauty?

SAR: I don’t want my kids to see beauty as just physical appearance. I want them to someday see that beauty is in the totality of a person. You don’t get to judge a person by simply looking at them. You have no right to do that. I want to instill in them that no matter what the person looks like, as long as their inner self is always aligned with what they are, and with what other people want, then that for me is the true definition of beauty.

RHM: What will the Miss Universe title or crown mean to you?

SAR: As I’ve mentioned, pageantry, especially the Miss Universe stage, is the biggest platform that I or any woman aspires to be on because it’s the best stage for everyone, especially for us women, to be heard, to voice out whatever our advocacy is. Because when we step on that stage, we showcase to everyone what we are truly all about.

RHM: What do you want everyone to know about Pasig City?

SAR: Pasig City is a combination of discipline and progress. We have the urban and the rural parts in Pasig City. I am born and raised a Pasigueña, and I just want the world and the universe to know that whatever they have, whatever they do, they can always achieve it as long as they set their minds to it.

RHM: What preparations are you making this time?

SAR: I just actually want to focus on me and try not to let negativity get into my head because it really does a lot to us candidates. I mean, when you read something online, of course, it gets to us but as much as possible I would like to just focus on me and try to not entertain any negativity.

RHM: What message or advice would you to mothers who are also dreaming of becoming beauty queens?

SAR: It’s not bad to shoot your shot, right? I tried my shot. It was offered to me. So, I grabbed that opportunity, am gonna make the most out of it, and I want to make each and every one of you proud. And I’m just really grateful and thankful for all your support.