Miss U 3rd Runner Up Shamcey Supsup Re-affirms Freedom of Religion Over Self
This is such a glorious day for all the Generals. Another daughter of Gensan, Ms. Shamcey Supsup, 25, brought home honor and pride to the city and the country by bagging the 3rd Runner Up award at the most prestigious beauty pageant, the Miss Universe 2011, in Sao Paulo Brazil. She may not have been crowned the ultimate winner, but her beauteous face, queenly poise, defined curvatures, amazing grace and organic intelligence in the pageant, wowed the jam-packed Credicard Hall of Sao Paulo. It was a showmanship ‘extraordinare’ of a humble, yet unquestionably beautiful General. Her inclusion in the top 5 candidates at the said beauty pageant exhibits a fighting spirit typical of every General—the same spirit that world-famed boxer Manny Pacquiao prominently exudes each time he is inside the boxing ring in Las Vegas.
She outmatched the usual Ms. Universe Pageant titans, USA, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Watching her took our breath away. Every time she appeared on stage was like a divine apparition of what is true, good and beautiful in every General. She is indeed a true, good and beautiful daughter of our city. To say the most, “She was and is excellence incarnate.” Born from a humble couple of a farmer and an architect, Shamcey graduated with a degree in Architecture at University of the Philippines in Diliman with the Latin honor Magna Cum Laude. She topped the Philippine Architectural Board Examination in 2010, placing first among the thousands who tried their luck. And one should not forget that she was also Salutatorian in High School.
She was undoubtedly a total package waiting to be crowned! But God knows what happened between and among the judges! I just really hope that they were not guilty of “under-appreciating” our national bet. Beauty Pageant enthusiasts and specialists will have to concur with me that there are certainly “unseen geopolitical power relations at play” in almost all of beauty contests. My friend beauty pageant enthusiast-cum-analyst and sociologist here at Ateneo de Davao, Dr. Efren John Sabado, knows this better than I do. Perhaps, it is high time that we academically recognize and formally open an interdisciplinary branch of political science, sociology, and/or social psychology that study the politics of beauty pageants if only to scrutinize the “wondrous miracles” (real or imagined) that occur behind the curtains of these events. I shall discuss this in length in my future essay.
Like everyone else who watched, I cannot help but feel the expanding excitement as she vied the Miss U crown, though, the crown was only symbolic of every woman’s fantastic dream. I cannot help but feel excited that another Filipino, most specifically a General, was given once again a rare opportunity to shine on the international stage. Shamcey’s showmanship at the Miss U ushered us all to reflect on our defining moments—a moment to dream again. Feeling excited for Shamcey is our personal way of projecting our dreams on her. Her outstanding presence and striving spirit inspire us to believe in our dreams. And one thing is certain. Shamcey has created a significant dent in our city and national life, though short of bringing home the crown. Yet, with or without the crown, she was and is in every way a winner in the eyes of those two billion-audience worldwide.
Her silver-lining answer nailed it all.
Let me discourse and dissect Shamcey’s answer in the final round that proved her crystal clear intelligence and native wit that surpassed other finalists.
Privileging freedom of religion over personal love, she highlighted the “non-negotiability” of the religious and spiritual convictions in the face of our highly personalistic and secularistic world. Her answer revealed the deep rationality of the inter-subjectivity of the self in the contexts of intimate interpersonal relationships and the sphere of religion.
She very well understood the ramifications of betraying her religious convictions—the same convictions that shape the unfolding of self as a social and cultural construction.
I am reminded of the famous Theistic Philosopher and Metaphysician Gabriel Marcel of his treatise on ‘creative fidelity.’ Any relationship, whether human or suprahuman, must have a hallmark of performativity in spontaneity—one that is characterized by freedom. We commit in love to the other unconditionally, not because we are obliged to, but because we freely wish to do so. Betraying one’s commitment to one’s religion therefore can be likened to a nullification of one’s sense of self to the other as a “thou.”—an un-poetic form of existential suicide.
Love, after all, calls for mutual self-integration and expansion rather than dissolution. The essence of intimate love is pure commitment and fidelity to unconditionality and never to religious captivity. Filipino Philosopher and Ateneo de Manila Faculty, Professor Manuel Dy, Jr., aptly puts it: “Love, and creative fidelity, in its fullest and most concrete sense rest on the unconditional.”
Love does not guarantee lovers the license to proselytize—but empowers loving souls to harmonize. And when one is thrusted to a dilemma of choosing between the human and the divine, it is comforting that Shamcey knows which one to choose.
Hence, a “so called” love that calls for the dissolution of the self by demanding the betrayal of the beloved’s religion is not love at all, but possession of the person.
To my mind, on a cultural and political note, Shamcey touched a very thorny issue in the hearts of Westerners, who are at home to atheistic and secularistic cultures and societies. She publicly upheld and reaffirmed what the secular and post-modern Western world strongly despises and denounces—Religion!
And with that she paid the price—the Miss U crown. But to us, Filipinos, who culturally put premium to our religious beliefs in understanding and loving the Universal Creator, her affirmation of the primacy of faith and religion even earned her our very deep admiration and esteem.
Shamcey echoed in simple terms the wisdom of US Supreme Court Justice Robert A. Jackson:
“Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.”
And certainly, if the progenitor of the Protestantism, Martin Luther, is just but alive today, he will also strongly agree with Shamcey with his famous line when he was tried by his Papal Inquisitors at the Diet of Worms: “It is neither right nor safe to go against my conscience.”
For Shamcey, changing of religion for personal convenience is equivalent to breaking a very sacred covenant between God and oneself. And this, Shamcey proudly re-asserted on stage. It was an answer that defined a very Filipino value and spirit of religiosity and the primacy of faith over the personalistic self. It was an honest answer, yet a clear defiance against the prevailing Western culture; a bold refusal of the pontification of personalism—the deification of the self.
Her shining personal value surfaced: Love for the Transcendent and Infinite is greater than any human love. Thanks to her familial upbringing and early childhood value formation under the auspices of the Dominican Sisters of Notre Dame.
Hence, there is a compelling reason that Gensan and the Philippines and all Generals celebrate with honor and grandeur the winning of Shamcey. Her victory was also our victory! And moreover, it was a victory for freedom of religion and freedom to dissent! It was a champion for theism!
To us, Shamcey is ‘the Miss Universe!’ Anchoring her answer on a highly ‘theistic’ or even ‘Christian’ sense, Shamcey put forward a non-negotiable truth at the cost of the Miss Universe Crown—‘There is no greater virtue, pride, beauty, glory and honor than to publicly affirm and declare the lordship of the Creator of the Universe!’
To Shamcey, let the hearts of every Filipinos and Generals be your throne and their love be your crown.
Fulltime Psychology Faculty
Ateneo de Davao University
Contact Number: 09085509124