Have you ever wondered about the world of pageantry and the impact it has on the lives of Filipinos?

As a massive event watched by many around the world, pageantry holds a special place in Filipino culture and is often celebrated as a national event.

One Filipina who has made a mark in the industry is Miriam Quiambao-Roberto. In this exclusive interview with Headline Bulletin, we’ll learn more about her journey, triumph resilience in the face of many adversities.

Journey to the crown

Miriam, then a physical therapist graduate and gym instructor, had no prior experience in the pageantry industry when she was encouraged to join the Miss Universe 1999 pageant.

To her surprise, she went on to win first runner-up, a significant achievement for the Philippines as it had been 26 years since the country had a runner-up position in the said global competition.

Miriam’s moment on the Miss Universe pageant stage captured the attention of the world as she gracefully recovered from a fall. Her poise and resilience left a lasting impression on the audience and the selection committee, so much so that it was even noted by an international book author.

Her participation in the pageant led to many opportunities for her, including appearances on daily morning and afternoon celebrity shows and even becoming the pioneer host for the first reality show in the Philippines. Furthermore, from 2008 to 2010, she was an advocate against child labor as one of her committed roles.

Her presence in several TV programs has made significant growth to the shows. One remarkable presence of hers was when she became pioneer host for the very first reality show in the Philippines until such time that she decided to move to Hong Kong, and left the celebrity life for her married life.

In 2009, she co-hosted 700 Club Asia contributing and sharing her life testimonies as she involved herself in the church and faith community.

Facing adversities

Despite her many accomplishments, Miriam felt a sense of emptiness and believed that marriage would fill that void. Despite living a lavish life with her husband’s provisions, she still felt unfulfilled and searched for deeper meaning in her life. Two and a half years later, unfortunately, her marriage fell apart and she moved back to the Philippines in 2006.

This feeling of emptiness intensified when her seemingly perfect married life took a turn for the worse. She was devastated and fell into a deep depression, questioning her life’s purpose and the path she had chosen.

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She struggled to find a way to move on from the challenges and setbacks that life had thrown at her. She tried to find solace in different things, be it through professional endeavors, socializing, and even therapy, but nothing seemed to fill that void.

As she faced her struggles, she found herself questioning her faith in God and her belief in her purpose. She felt lost and alone, unsure of what the future held for her. It was a dark time in her life, but she knew she had to find a way to move forward.

As if these struggles were not enough, Miriam faced another devastating blow when she was scammed by her own business partner in a real estate company she had invested her money into.

The timing couldn’t have been worse, as it all transpired in the middle of what she thought was her recovery state. This setback sent her spiralling into an even deeper depression and her suicidal thoughts became more frequent and intense. She was in a state of desperation, feeling like she had lost everything and that there was no way out.

In an attempt to regain control of her finances, Miriam accepted an offer to pose for a men’s magazine. However, this decision only served to escalate her problems.

As a result of her participation in the magazine, her partnership with a Christian nonprofit organization, World Vision, was suspended as they didn’t want to be involved in her controversies. This decision made a significant impact on her reputation and image, and she was left feeling even more isolated and alone.

The combination of the collapse of her marriage, her financial struggles made Miriam feel like she had hit rock bottom. She was in a constant state of despair, questioning her decisions and her worth as a person. It seemed like there was no way out of her troubles and she felt lost and helpless.

Miriam’s decision to pose for a men’s magazine not only led to the suspension of her partnership with World Vision but also caused a rift between her and her parents. They were against her decision and it had a significant impact on her mental and emotional well-being. This led her to question her own existence and she began to realize that her life was going in the wrong direction.

As she reflected on her life journey, she realized that in her pursuit of success, she had been doing it wrong.

She remembered the principles of Jack Canfield, who said: “Success leads clues.”

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She realized that a lot of her life was supposed to be for God’s glory, but she had taken the decisions of her life in her own hands which led to her current state of mess.

Resilient rise

With the help of her faith community and her faith’s promises, she was able to regain her focus and find her life’s real purpose. She was able to overcome the challenges she faced such as broken relationships, suicidal tendencies, financial bankruptcy, and a lack of career prospects. Her faith gave her the strength and hope to recover from the insanity of her mentality.

Overcoming adversity to make a positive impact

After all the turmoil, Miriam was determined to turn her life around. She was inspired by her recovery journey and decided to write a book, which was launched in 2014. One of her mentors during this time was her now-husband, whom she married the same year. They now live in Boracay, Philippines with their three children and conduct their own home church services.

Her book is a testimony of her life and the last three chapters detail her journey of finding love and second chances with her mentor turned husband, who is also a bestselling author in the Philippines. Even after eight years of marriage, Miriam remains active in various engagements as an inspirational speaker, host and manages her own real estate business.

Their move to the island has allowed them to live a fulfilling life as a family. Miriam is currently the President of the Parent-Teacher Association of Malay District Boracay, Philippines where her son studies. She has found a sense of purpose and fulfilment in her role as a mother and a leader in her community.

As a healed version of herself, Miriam approached her new responsibilities with thoughtful consideration. Same when she embarked on her pageantry journey, she had no experience in this new task either, but this time, she’s determined to make a lasting difference.

Her responsibility opened her up to a new challenge where her beauty queen background was awakened as she embraced the true cause of pageantry.

After learning about the post-pandemic issues faced by students such as low literacy and numeracy rates, students not being grade ready, increased concern on mental health, bullying, and teenage pregnancies, she knew that she had to take definitive actions.

From the catwalk to the classroom

Despite her lack of prior experience, Miriam Quiambao had built extensive connections during her beauty queen and celebrity days. Armed with these and her awakened sense of purpose, an idea came to her, and she drove an initiative to address the issues that the students were facing.

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With all the connections and learnings she’s accumulated throughout the years, she was able to gather support from different organizations and individuals to help her in her cause.

Through her advocacy, she was able to make a significant impact in the lives of the students and the community, proving that beauty queens can make a difference in the world.

Finding purpose and happiness

With her newfound purpose, Miriam set out to share her knowledge and experience with others. She realized that the best solution was to provide a core purpose workshop. The workshop was developed by an international company based on a quote by Mark Twain that says:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

She is currently working on Core Purpose workshop, which was developed by Vicky Jeffs of Day2 International. Her good friend, Lynn Nawata, the Certified Master Trainer of the said workshop and its Asia Director, will be working together to help train school administrators in our area so that they could integrate it into the curriculum of the students.

The aim of the workshop is to help people discover their purpose in life and to transition from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, develop emotional intelligence, compassion, empathy, integrity, discovering significance, and leaving a legacy.

Lasting triumph and purpose

Miriam’s story serves as a reminder of the ups and downs that come with pursuing success and the impact it can have on one’s life. It’s also a testament to the resilience and determination of Filipinos to overcome challenges and make their mark in the world.

Through her advocacy and the core purpose workshop, she has been able to help many individuals find their purpose and make a positive impact in their lives and communities.

The making of a beauty queen is not only in the course of time of their reign. Miriam has exhibited the real essence of being one that even though years has passed from the time of her win, she still have in her heart the essence of the crown she received that no matter where life takes you as long as your pursuit in life is of value and substance, with your guiding light whether it’s your faith system or life values, you will always have the heart of leaving an impact.

Editor’s note: The article has been updated to provide clarity on the “Core Purpose” workshop.