Despite her showbiz pedigree, Miss International Philippines 2017 candidate Mariel De Leon lived a rather simple life. No glitzy crowns, no special treatments, no gratifying social media persona, as any beauty queen this age inevitably receives. In retrospect, the daughter of actor Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong—who's poised to succeed last year's successful Philippine bet Kylie Verzosa in Tokyo, Japan—feels more than grateful about it. She told us before the pageant, "When I was younger, I just liked playing outside with my siblings and the neighbors. I had a very normal and happy childhood... I guess the only 'unique' or different thing was that sometimes I would accompany my parents when they went to work (shooting for movies and taping for TV shows)."
Frankly, Mariel "never" wanted to be a beauty queen. "It was only after my first time joining Binibining Pilipinas that I realized I really wanted to be one," she admitted. With the mentoring made available at the beauty queen mill that is Aces and Queens talent agency, Mariel first trained and competed for Binibining Pilipinas in 2013 (when she landed in the top 15 and Ariella Arida as the eventual winner) and chose to make a comeback this year. As it turned out, 2017 became her time.
In fact, Mariel only welcomed the spotlight's charm a little later, venturing into opera and theater over TV or film. "I was around 19 or 20 that time. Pretty late. I never knew I could be a singer. I’ve always loved classical music and opera. I grew up listening to old music. So, one day, I just tried it and liked it. From there, I started taking casual voice lessons from different teachers. But mostly, I study by myself by just listening and practicing." Mariel's flair in theater rather came as a surprise, having no formal training in opera whatsoever.
Bodie Cruz, Mariel' lead co-star in Joseph the Musical (2015) and son of veteran actor Tirso Cruz III, made lots of memories with her on and off the stage. Bodie briefly reminisced about bonding with the Asenath to his Joseph. "Our families have known each other for forever, but the time I really started having conversations with her was when we were part of (Joseph the Musical)... The waiting hours were long, but she was patient and humble enough to sit and wait her turn without complaining. Of course, the guys loved having her around. A lot of the cast, especially the younger ones, had a crush on her. She may seem fragile but she's strong and determined."
Like any showbiz newbie who finds her online account as a frangible extension of herself, Mariel came across criticisms in the digital world on the way to where she is now. She especially experienced a wave of trolling, following the online reaction of Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson of the PCOO to one of Mariel's tweets, an exchange which has now been removed. Amid the issue on extrajudicial killings the country finds itself, Mariel (@mariaangelicadl) tweeted, "It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that people are okay with murder because their leader says it is okay." Mocha would respond “Ate, wag puro ganda ginagamit mo. Iba ang murder at iba ang pagpatay sa kriminal.” (Translation: "Don’t just use your beauty. There’s a difference between murder and killing of criminals") The exchange sparked media attention and up 'til now, Mariel has had to endure her share of cyber hate.
One of Mariel’s frequent makeup artists and a veteran in the craft, Erwin "Kleng" Oning recalled the time the internet blew up over that political exchange. “So, people never thought na makakapagsalita si Mariel nang ganun kasi they think si Mariel tahimik lang." Kleng went on to share how Mariel confided in him, "I don’t see anything wrong with my tweet,” at the time amidst the online reaction. The beauty professional added, “I reassured her nalang na, ‘Hayaan mo sila, at least nasabi mo na kung ano yung nasa puso mo,’ That’s the thing about Mariel. She’s quiet pero kabahan ka na pag nagsalita siya.”
As for the unapologetic source of the clash herself, she could only say, "We must learn from history to have a better future. Also, I think our society has to learn to change with the times. Gone are the times wherein people will just remain quiet. People now are more outspoken and empowered."
Many are rooting for Mariel de Leon in today's Miss International 2017 pageant, it will be airing in just a few moments to watch via live streaming from these links mentioned here or below!
ALSO READ: Style Inspo: Young Beauty Kweens Rachel Peters And Laura Lehmann Slay No Matter Where They Go!
Photos from: Instagram.com/mariaangelicadl, Instagram.com/erwinoning, Instagram.com/miriamq888