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KATARINA (PART 1)


The hardest challenge for me is still trying to understand where I belong after having competed and not having won an international pageant.

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THE DAY SHE LEFT FLORIDA

That was in 2011, in August. I can’t really remember it. I just remember having my two maletas (suitcases), just very excited. My parents always preferred the States, and they wouldn’t allow me [to move to Manila] ‘til after high school. It was just something that felt very right. What I’m really imagining now is sitting on the plane, and writing out what I was feeling then. It feels like a whole ‘nother lifetime ago. At that time, I was only 18.

You know, I had a boyfriend at the time--my high school boyfriend--I just kinda knew, and I think he knew also, that it wasn't gonna last. At that time, we didn't have LTE. We were using Skype back then. But I just remember thinking how different my life would change--especially since there [in the U.S.], my parents raised my brothers and I in that, you know, in that very regular ‘American’ way wherein when you turn 16 you get your first job, you pay for your own car, you pay for your own college tuition.

My parents raised my brothers and I in that, you know, in that very regular ‘American’ way

And then moving to live with my paternal grandparents, who I always looked up to while growing up--[was] you know, a very different upbringing. They gave me a curfew, and I had never had a curfew in the States. It was just kind of an understanding between my parents and I. They’ll suggest, “You should be home around this time…” Out of respect [for my parents], “Ok, I'll be home at this time.” But there are times when I’d come home later, and they wouldn't be upset. With my grandparents, it’s like, “You need to be home by midnight!” They're very particular with who I would hang out with at times.


MODEL BEHAVIOR

It was a lot of excitement. I did wanna try out modeling and the industry, but when I finally made the move, it wasn't my first priority because of school and the new friends I had. I kind of just pushed it to the side, and didn’t focus on it. I was like, “Oh, if it comes along, it comes along.” My goals had changed--my original goals, I shifted back to that which was modeling and entering the showbiz industry.

KATARINA’S DIARY

I think I'm on my 4th journal now. I started writing when I was about 14. When I read back to the way I would write when I was 14 years old, I'm just amazed [at] the things I would say. Even if I go through heartbreaks for example, I'll go back and I’ll read from the beginning to the most recent entry--if it gets to that point. And when I'm rereading it I'm just like, “This girl was so wise.” Like, why am I so broken about this guy, when at 14 or 16, I was giving myself this advice? It's something I recommend to most girls, to most young women is to keep a journal Because your younger self can show you or can remind you just how strong you really are.

LITTLE KNOWN KATARINA FACTS

I'm a first degree black belt in Taekwondo, And i shifted to Muay Thai after. I don't do competitive Muay Thai, it's just for the love of martial arts. There’s so much that comes with it. I started when I was 8...And I'm not violent--I don't know, it's very calming and it's like the opposite effect with me.

Why am I so broken about this guy, when at 14 or 16, I was giving myself this advice?

CROWNING GLORIES

I competed in Binibining Pilipinas [Ms. Philippines] 2017, then I won Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental, which is not a major crown. I really loved the competition which was in Egypt. The Ms. Intercontinental organization, they're great. They're so organized. I competed in 2018 for Ms. World Philippines, and then I won the Ms. World Philippines crown. Then I competed in Ms. World, in China, which wasn’t the best experience.

GOD IN THE DETAILS

I’d say I'm religious to an extent, but I'm still also learning a lot about my spirituality and I don't talk about this a lot. I don't think anyone stays religious consistently for days straight. I think it's like a roller coaster where you're in and out of it. With pageantry, I definitely have felt my closest to God


During that time. It tested me a lot, and I think ‘til today I'm still questioning Him, like, “Why did I go through this?” I don't know how to put it. Everyone’s like, “Too bad, she could have been Ms. Universe Philippines whatever year…” or “Too bad, I wasn't placed in Ms. World.” And they question these things, and I question them. And I can't say that pageants aren't, that there isn't some sort of ‘rig’ that happens within. I think nationally there's none. The people who were meant to win crowns they won, were really meant to win those crowns.

I think that's my biggest struggle--is trying to understand why it happened. Of course there's always the growth, but it’s just like, you know--I competed, I gave it my all.

But when it comes down to the international pageants, there’s so many girls. There was about 130. You know, you can see there are different variables that come into play, like the country you come from, how your national director’s courting the owner of the organization. It kind of is like when you tell a kid that Santa Claus or the tooth fairy isn't real. I really think, “pageant”--you think like “queens, princesses.” And when you get to these international pageants, and this happened particularly with Ms. World--and you see that it's not what you thought it was.

I think that's my biggest struggle--is trying to understand why it happened. Of course there's always the growth, but it’s just like, you know--I competed, I gave it my all. There's things behind that should have happened or needed to happen to help me reach the goal. You can't point fingers or blame anyone, because you also don't wanna do that. I wouldn't have wanted my national director to have been like, “I'll pay you this, I’ll pay you that.” Just as an example. And I'm not saying that happened--it’s just that I do wonder, “Did that happen?”

Those are always the tearjerkers for me, because I think there's so much emotion that I haven't closed off from my pageant world. My heart hasn’t fully closed off from it.

At the end of it, I'm just like, “Why did I go down this path, only to go back around?” ‘Cos before pageantry, I was with Viva Artists Agency, and they were so good to me. They put me through workshops. A lot of what I know came from what they taught me. They were kind of bringing me towards the path of showbiz, which I didn't want to go down at that time, hence why I shifted to pageantry. And now it's kind of like, I made a circle and I'm going back to that direction. So when I sit there by myself and I just think about it, I'm like, “Why? Why did I go through this part?”

FINDING HER PLACE

I look up to [Ms. Universe 2015] Pia Wurtzbach, for example. She's no longer Ms. Universe, but she's still heavy in her advocacy. It's hard because I do compare myself to them, “OK, she's like this, so I should keep doing this.” And then I'm like, “But I didn't even win.” I'm like, “Why am I putting so much pressure, ‘cos I didn't even win?” It's hard not to do that.

I wouldn't have wanted my national director to have been like, “I'll pay you this, I’ll pay you that.” Just as an example. And I'm not saying that happened--it’s just that I do wonder, “Did that happen?”

Then there's this whole behind the scenes pageant world with all the trainers, the supporters the Filipino pageant fans, their comments. When they’re just like, “It’s too bad about Katarina, she deserved more.” You can't also help but think, “Yeah, I did deserve more.” Or like, “Yeah, I should have done this.” It's like, it's not for me--and until today, I'm trying to figure out why.


I was doing a TV series before COVID happened, and they had me cry all the time. And what I would think about when I would cry, is that. I would think about the moments where Philippines wasn't called out while I was on stage. And those are always the tearjerkers for me, because I think there's so much emotion that I haven't closed off from my pageant world. My heart hasn’t fully closed off from it.

When they’re just like, “It’s too bad about Katarina, she deserved more.” You can't also help but think, “Yeah, I did deserve more.”

The hardest challenge for me is still trying to understand where I belong after having competed and not having won an international pageant.


MOVING FORWARD FROM PAGEANTRY

I graduated with a Philosophy degree, and I'm very thankful for that because it helps me accept things like that more. It's almost like, “Oh, OK, I didn’t win. Let's kind of like annotate all my notes and why I didn't win, and let's move past it.

Let's kind of like annotate all my notes and why I didn't win, and let's move past it.

Story of Katarina Rodriguez, Ms. Intercontinental 2017 First Runner-Up (Part 1)

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