The candidates for Palau's first ever Miss Independence Pageant. (Contributed Photo)

Seven beautiful Palauan ladies will be vying for the crown in Palau’s first ever Miss Independence pageant to be held at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center on September 7.

Pageantry has already evolved in such a way as to provide a venue for women empowerment and Palau’s Miss Independence pageant is not an exception. In fact, the seven candidates had broken all conventional stereotypes of beauty by signing up to one of the most-anticipated events this year. Let’s get to know each of them:

Jaydee Itab Ngirdimau

This 26-year-old Palauan from Ngaraard State is currently working as a Computer Technician at the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs (MCCA).

Ngirdimau said that she wanted to campaign for women empowerment and to make young Palauan women confident about their beauty.

The opportunity to win the crown means so much for this young lady who is proud to represent her island and to showcase it to the world. Ngirdmau said that joining the pageant helps expand her experience.

Debunking the stereotype of beauty, Ngirdmau said that beauty is not just all about looks and size but is also about having good character and cultivating good relationship with others by seeing the best in them.

Motto: Adventure time is always the best time. You gotta learn to enjoy life at the moment because you’ll never know about tomorrow. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Dichel Zoe Marie Jonathan

A strong, independent woman, that is the impression that this young lady from Ngerchemai gave when she said that she is currently working to save money to support her college education in the future.

Dichel, 20, is a cashier at the WCTC PicK N’ Save. For this young woman, joining the pageant means stepping out of her comfort zone as she admitted that she is a shy person but is willing to break the barriers for the sake of earning a good experience through the Miss Independence pageant.

If given the chance to win, Dichel said that she wants to promote Palau to the world through an opportunity to travel with the Palau Visitors Authority (PVA).

“I want the world to know that Palau is a very beautiful place. Some people out there, they do not know that we exist. Only a few people know about us. [So I will tell them to] come and visit and look at our culture, and history,” Dichel said.

Dichel believes that joining the pageant is already a win-win scenario for her as she enjoys the experience.

Motto: “Instead of saying God, I have a big problem, say Problem, I have a big God.”

Mirang Sheana Rhea Subediang

Although hesitant to join the pageant at first, this 18-year-old lady from the state of Ngatpang is now compelled that the divine has led her to the pageant to fulfill a purpose.

Prior to the Miss Independence, Mirang had taken part on a United States Embassy-sponsored trip to the United States under the Tuna Diplomacy Program where she learned a lot about environment conservation and diverse cultures.

Mirang said that if she is given the chance to win the title, it could be her leverage in the society and could earn her a voice that will be heard by the people.

“I can use that voice to promote more clubs concerning environmental conservation to provide more programs for the youth to take part in,” Mirang said.

Mirang is still working with the US embassy and other young fellows of the Tuna Diplomacy Program in making a presentation in the upcoming Our Oceans 2020 in Palau. She said that the voice she is going to earn by winning the title is going to help push their group’s agenda to promote environmental projects.

When asked how does she define beauty, Mirang has this to share: “If you have a good heart, if you are willing to do what it takes to do a good cause then I think that is beauty.”

Motto: Philippians 1:29 – Your pain has a purpose.

Lea Letaweryang Josol

This 19-year-old lady from Sonsorol State said that she has found her passion when she started working at the Neco Plaza as an Admin and Accounting Assistant. Her plan is to take up a degree in accounting once she goes back to college next year.

As a young accounting assistant, Lea takes pride in the insights she has learned from her company about running a successful business. She shared that it was not part of her plan to join the pageant but seeing the encouragement she got from her community had inspired her to join.

She is also a versatile athlete that plays different kinds of sports such as basketball and volleyball, among others. For Lea, what matters the most at the end of the pageant is the experience she will get out of it.

“I don’t really mind about the winning part. I just want to experience the fun but if I will [win], that would mean a lot because that means all the hard work has been paid off,” Lea said.

Lea said that she wants to raise awareness against underage drinking and substance abuse. She said that if given the platform, she will develop programs that would divert young people’s attention to education and others.

Motto: My father always told me that “all difficult roads will lead to beautiful destinations.”

Hokulannie Klebokeldil Richard

Hokulannie, 18, wants to inspire confidence among her peers by joining the pageant saying that it is okay to be shy but that this should not drag them away from gaining worthwhile experience. Hokulannie is from Meyuns and is currently studying at the Palau Community College (PCC).

“I would like to make huge contribution for us young girls. I want to share to them that these kind of activities are very good to get to know a lot of people,” Hokulannie said.

Just like the other candidates, Hokulannie draws strength and inspiration from her family and friends who believe that she has what it takes to join the pageant.

Hokulannie is also an athlete and has played sports such as Softball. As a student, she is a firm believer that education is the key to success.

Motto: I push myself and [never stop at what I do until I] see what the end looks like. [Just] Push it, don’t stop.

Greta Siang Ote

A big confession: Greta says she is a shy person but this seems to be no more as she continues to display courage at the Miss Independence pageant.

Greta, 24, hails from Ngermid and is currently working as a cashier at the WCTC Shopping Center. She said that her current job has allowed her to learn the skills of dealing with various and diverse groups of people.

The pageant, according to Greta, is a good experience to take as it helps her grow as a person.

If given the chance to win, she wants to take an active part in pushing for advocacies that promotes environment conservation such as tree planting.

Motto: Just be yourself.

Shalotta Hae Diliaur Jiro Masang

Beauty is being comfortable and confident in your own skin, that is what Shalotta, 18, of Angaur State strongly believes in.

She is currently taking up liberal arts at the Palau Community College (PCC) and is enthusiastic about the idea of being granted the opportunity to promote Palau to other countries and to show that she is proud of her roots.

Shalotta said that she wants to conduct various programs for the youth of Palau that will foster confidence among them if she receives the accolade of winning Miss Independence.

Motto: Always look to God.

(By Rhealyn C. Pojas)