While we were all so focused on the gowns, the glitz, and the glam of the Miss Universe 2016 candidates, and on rooting for our very own Miss Philippines Maxine Medina, there was one young lady from our side of the world who was preoccupied differently: Spending days on end organizing a feat in Miss Universe history; that is, having an exclusively homegrown team do the makeup on all the candidates for the entire duration of the pageant here in our country.
Meet Vanessa Vergara, Public Relations and Artist Relations Executive of M·A·C Cosmetics Philippines, the official makeup sponsor of Miss Universe 2016. She's got gorgeous beauty queen looks and grace that makes heads in a room turn for her, but this one's also got the mettle to win behind-the-scenes—tight schedules, b*tchy candidates, chaos, and all.
We can only imagine how tiring those long days overseeing the makeup team, coordinating with the organizers and the press, and mounting side events (the M·A·C Aids Fund event, for instance) were. Yet Vanessa breezed through it all with her sunny disposition and bucketloads of energy. Even a sore throat and a bit of colds here and there didn't stop this woman from making sure everything would go as smoothly as possible, working hand in hand with the talented M·A·C Cosmetics makeup team and her colleagues from the corporate office.
"The best team ever!"
Vanessa shared with us exclusive details about this once in a lifetime adventure...
You guys did such amazing work for Miss Universe, from the makeup kits to registration to all the other activities and pageant night, of course! Can you share with us briefly how much work was put into all the preps? "Our prep for Miss Universe started on July 2016. The moment we heard that there was a chance that Miss Universe was going to be held in the Philippines, we put the machine in motion. We worked very closely with the M·A·C Cosmetics global office and the Miss Universe Organization for seven months to make the event happen."
What Miss U moment will you treasure the most? "I will treasure the friends I’ve made and each person I met is an inspiration in their own way. I was so lucky to be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity and to play a role in such an iconic moment in the Philippines. Not a lot of people will have the chance to experience the electric energy and crazy backstage scene."
Favorite candidates? "I love all of them!!!!!! But the ones that have the best energy backstage are Miss Philippines, Thailand, Colombia, Argentina and France."
What's one thing you learned about Miss U during your time backstage that you got your surprised? "I’ve always been lucky to work with the best makeup artists but what we accomplished backstage surprised me even more. It was hard to believe how much we can accomplish in so little time. We were all under so much pressure and each artist on our team had to do six to seven contestants within three hours. I was also surprised on how much international attention the beauty looks got on social media. We had countries contacting each of our artists and asking about the products or techniques. We went trending on almost every event and can you believe that this was accomplished while all of us only had two to three hours of sleep a day."
Life lessons you learned from the time you spent with the candidates? "Working on Miss Universe made me realize the beauty of diversity. It was amazing to break the barriers of cultural backgrounds and experience the unity between all countries. For even just a few hours, 86 countries around the world came together and united. With everything that’s happening around the world, Miss Universe is a great reminder of how we can all still be one."
"When everything was as magical as you had hoped."
One other notable thing about this young, energetic Filipina is her passion for diving and marine life conservation. This she's able to nurture despite her very busy corporate life! Recently, she got certified as a diving instructor. We can all definitely learn a lot from her regarding pursuing our passions and caring more about Mother Earth...
Vani is also the face of Squires Bingham Sports.
Can you tell us more about how you got into diving? "I have always loved the ocean. It’s been my dream to be a Marine Biologist since I was in first grade so it was only natural for me to jump at the opportunity to learn to scuba dive."
What do you love most about it? "I love being underwater and seeing the sunlight dance with the waves, it’s the moment I feel most alive. As an instructor, my favorite part is seeing the stars in my students’ eyes after they experience diving for the first time. It’s magical."
Most challenging thing you've faced in your entire journey? "It was quite difficult to manage my schedule and to juggle my work at M·A·C with my Scuba Diving lessons. There are a lot of physical activities required to get certified and I get pretty exhausted sometimes because I’ll be coming straight from an event. I even had to carry people several times to simulate rescue situations and I’m so tiny so it was very challenging. *laughs*"
You're an advocate of marine wildlife conservation as well. What would you like to tell people about how they can help keep our seas and oceans beautiful? "I would really like to invite everyone to try and scuba dive at least once in their lives so that they can experience the beauty of the ocean and they can see why it’s important to take care of it. I noticed that after I take someone on their first dive, I see that their actions become more sustainable little by little. They use less plastic straws and they start picking up trash before it reaches the ocean. It’s really nice and it’s very fulfilling for me as a Dive Instructor."
What tips can you give to women who want to get diving certification? "Invest in your own gear! I know it seems a bit expensive in the start but trust me, it pays off! Renting gear can be very expensive and in the long run, you end up saving so much more. Also for new divers, I would really recommend that after you buy your personal equipment (suit, mask, and fins) that you buy a dive computer since this device will be the one that will guide you and keep you safe underwater.
"I love being underwater and seeing the sunlight dance with the waves, it’s the moment I feel most alive."
Favorite diving moment and diving spots? "My favorite moment was when I saw a 10 ft. thresher shark for the first time and I don’t know if I was excited or nervous. Then shark turns to me, I could really see his eyes and his focus was on me. That moment when I was eye to eye with a shark and I could tell that he was as curious as I was.
I love diving in Malapascua with the sharks or in Coron with the turtles but I will be traveling to a World Heritage Site, Tubbataha, on May 2017 and I’m sure that I will fall in love with the place the moment I arrive."
So the next time you think it's impossible to juggle a hectic corporate life with your passion, know that it can be done. Vanessa is proof that you can make things happen and still be all smiles no matter the stress—it's all about the right attitude. You go, girl!
ALSO READ: In Focus: This Celebrity Makeup Artist Is The Other Big Winner Of Miss Universe 2016
Photographs courtesy of Vanessa and from Instagram.com/vanivergara