THE BEAUTY OF BEING VENUS
"I will be the next Miss Universe. It has always been my dream to become a beauty queen, and I worked so hard and prepared myself for years. This is a dream I will not give up easily," thus affirms a strong-willed and determined Maria Venus Bayonito Raj, this year's Philippine representative to Ms. Universe 2010.
This 22-year old Bicolana is out to prove that beauty truly goes beyond physical attributes. It is about character, attitude, and sheer determination. With her personal background and experiences, it is not easy to see how this unique beauty will play in her search for the elusive crown.
Venus has what it takes to endure the rigors of an international beauty pageant. Her modest life in Bato, Camarines Sur has prepared her for whatever physical and mental demands that the pageant might have in store for her and the rest of the contingent from all over the world. The youngest of five children, Venus grew up in a humble nipa hut that stood proudly in the middle of a sprawling rice field. With no electricity to light her path, she would use the narrow rice paddy dikes to pretend that she's walking down fashion runways.
That innocent dream slowly took shape as she strived to pull her family out of financial misery. She started entering beauty contests when she turned 17. The rest, as they say is history.
Venus went on to successfully graduate with cum laude honors at the Bicol University in Legaspi City, with a degree in BCA Journalism. She got employed as an Information Assistant at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. She also had stints as a fashion model as well.
Training and preparations for the Miss Universe is keeping her schedules tight these days. Part of these preparations are learning new languages; reviewing her Philippine history, geography, economics and arts & culture; on-cam training; and hair and make-up application lessons. Amid her hectic timetable, she still needs to fulfill her duties and responsibilities as Miss Universe Philippines by taking part in humanitarian missions that would help uplift the lives of marginalized Filipinos.
Busy as she is, Venus manages to make most of whatever free time she has. Her favorite activities are singing, listening to music, playing volleyball, and cooking her favorite Bicol delicacies.
Her dream, combined with an optimistic view, is her motivation to bag the most sought-after international beauty crown. Who knows � she just might end the Filipino's long drought for a Miss Universe title. Until then, Venus will carry the nation's hope with gutsy determination and perseverance that she has come to learn through years of hard work. That, in itself, is the beauty of being Venus.