Labatt Jolly calls for an end to beauty contests

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Dela Torre

STOP it.

Labor Attache Jalilo Dela Torre urged Filipino groups in Hong Kong to stop staging beauty contest after photos of nearly-naked Filipino women who joined a pageant spread online recently.

Dela Torre said that he had talked with Leo Selomenio, leader of the Global Alliance, one of the major federations of Filipino groups in the city, and learned that they had decided to stop staging beauty pageants.

Selomenio was featured in “Sunday Beauty Queens,” the 2016 film documentary about Filipino domestic workers who joined a beauty pageant in HK.

“I am against conduct of such beauty contests, especially when it involves the exposure and the indecent exposure of certain body parts,” Dela Torre said in an interview.

“The Global Alliance said they will no longer mount beauty contests and we are hoping the others would follow,” he added.

Dela Torre said that he would report to Consul General Antonio Morales so that the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) could call a Filipino community meeting to address the issue.

“I hope this is a start of the movement from the community to no longer tolerate beauty pageants. I hope the others would follow the leaders of Global Alliance. It’s degrading. The pictures were really off,” he added.

He was referring to the pictures of the beauty contest held in Wan Chai on Nov. 18 which featured nearly-naked Filipino women.

“The pictures were taken and made their way around the Internet. So, we traced the name of the organizer and I was able to talk to her,” Dela Torre said.

Dela Torre said the organizer went to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office to meet him. He added that the police had to be called because a man, who was claiming he was a lawyer, also arrived and would not leave.

“I talked with the organizer and she eventually admitted that she was wrong. She promised not to do it again. She issued a public apology,” Dela Torre said.

“It got me thinking that this is an opportunity for us to learn a lesson from this incident,” he said.

Dela Torre said that pageant contestants faced not only the danger of exploitation but, oftentimes, these beauty contests also turn out to be additional financial burdens for Filipino domestic workers.

“They spend so much on these beauty contests because they have to sell tickets or pay for the entry fee,” he said.

“The entry fee for that Wan Chai beauty contest was $1,300 but the prize for third place was only $1,000. So even if you win (third place), you still lose money,” he added.

Due in part to the Wan Chai pageant, the PCG reminded overseas Filipino workers that posting obscene or indecent photos or videos on social media is a crime in Hong Kong.

In a public advisory, the PCG said that those convicted face a fine of HK$1 million and imprisonment of up to three years.

“We posted this again to remind our kababayans that it’s a crime, and that law enforcers here are very strict about this,” said Consul Paul Saret, head of the PCG-Assistance to Nationals Section.

Saret said the PCG also released the public advisory after pictures of the almost nude Filipino beauty contestants spread online.

“Kasama na po yan. We would just like to inform again our compatriots that they might get caught and get arrested for posting these materials online,” he said.

The PCG noted that posting obscene materials online is punishable under the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO) of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong authorities are strict with the enforcement of COIAO, it added.