Beauty and Belief

In the aftermath of the 2011 Miss Universe, the most oft-discussed question in the internet is: Did Shamcey’s “Love My God” answer cost her the crown?


Tale as old as time
Tune as old as song
Bittersweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong

Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty wants you to believe…


That would have been the theme-song of Miss Philippines’ Shamcey Supsup after her interview portion in this year’s Miss Universe pageant. Opinions have been tossed around left and right by people from all sectors of society. Some have even questioned the validity of the question itself. Was Miss Philippines’ question harder to answer than Miss Angola’s? Was it OK to put people on the spot by questioning their religious beliefs?

Criticisms like this only highlight a glaring fault in Philippine society – that even in the 21st century, questioning someone’s religious stance is still treated as somewhat taboo.

But in the sordid history of reality TV, Shamcey was definitely not the first to be put on a tight spot because of their religious convictions. In an episode of the Amazing Race, a distraught contestant wouldn’t enter a Buddhist temple to complete their task because she felt it was against her Christian beliefs to do so. In an eating challenge of Survivor, another contestant wouldn’t eat the food presented to her because she was vegan. In America’s Next Top Model, another contestant wouldn’t go on a racy photo shoot because it would show more skin than her conservative upbringing would allow. The latest bit of reality TV drama involved a young contestant on The Glee Project who wasn’t comfortable kissing a girl onstage because of similar conservative stances.

So our very own Shamcey Supsup is in good company. Depending on your liberal / conservative leanings, you would either praise people like them for remaining true to their convictions despite social pressures… or you’d feel sorry for people like them for being so narrow-minded and still desperately clinging on to outdated conservative norms. But for the sake of brevity, let’s skip the judgment and go straight to the meat of the matter, her answer:


 “If I had to change my religious beliefs, I would not marry the person that I love because the first person that I love is God who created me and I have my faith and my principles and this is what makes me who I am.”


Great answer. She showed conviction and confidence in her personal stance. It doesn’t matter what your personal views are on religion, she answered the question the only way it should be answered – you cannot and must not compromise yourself and your own beliefs just to please someone else; the decision is yours and yours alone. She could be a Scientologist or a Mormon, and it would still be the right answer.


“And if that person loves me, he should love my God too.”


I guess we could all agree this is where she crashed and burned. Blame it on pressure, the wrong choice of words, or just plain too much honesty… but it came across to many as too demanding and too one-sided. One could interpret her words in two ways:

1. She would only marry someone of the same religion as hers. This would make her stance too rigid…it implies close-mindedness, if not outright prejudice. In a world trying to embrace diversity in all its various flavors of creed, ethnicity, and lifestyle, is it any wonder she’d lose the Miss Universe crown with a mind-set like this? Even worse, as a representative of the Philippines, this is the image she’s projecting to the rest of the world – that Filipinos have a cristiano-cerado mentality.  Most Filipinos would find the practice of some ethnic groups like the Chinese or Spaniards preferring to marry only within their community a discriminatory social preference but fully support Ms. Shamcey’s equally discriminatory criteria in choosing a mate? C’mon people, let’s have some consistency here. Yes, there’s a huge culture-gap to overcome when it comes to inter-religion/racial/ethnicity relationships; it definitely takes a lot more work since both partners are out of their comfort-zone. It is definitely not a plug-and-play affair. It will challenge your dedication to each other – but isn’t that what marriage is about? “You and me against the world”? Several studies have even shown that the strongest relationships have partners with the most differing backgrounds. Take it as a testament of their love for each, their willingness to compromise, to put their relationship over all other things separating them – I think it’s an attitude like that that makes a relationship work, not the color of one’s skin, the shape of the eyes, or the god(s) you pray to. I believe in the  old cliche “that which does not break us, makes us stronger”.

2. She would only marry someone who’d convert to her religion. This alternative’s even worse. Firstly, marriage is a relationship of equals. That being said, one cannot demand something of your partner that you yourself are not willing to reciprocate. Would she volunteer to “love” Allah as well if her fiancé was muslim or Xenu if her boyfriend was a Scientologist? Probably not… That’s the problem with most world religions today – they demand exclusivity, leaving no room for the beliefs of others. And the painful irony here? If she managed to get her boyfriend to switch religion that easily, what does it say about his loyalty? His paninindigan?  Did it ever occur to Shamcey that a person who could switch religions could just as easily be as fickle in his love life? Just a thought.


I Love you Lord!


How then should she have answered the question? Personally, I’d go for a compromise. Let each spouse be allowed to practice their own belief, let them learn from each other’s perspective and nurture their relationship from the strength of their diversity. When they finally have kids, allow each parent to impart their belief system to the child and let the kid decide which one to follow, if at all.

There’s a saying that ‘opposites attract’. But that’s only true if both parties are willing to compromise instead of arguing on who’s right or whose decisions matter more. Ruffa Gutierrez may not be the poster-girl for inter-religion marriages but there are inter-faith marriages that do work out. I googled up celebrity inter-faith couples and miraculously, some of them are still together today!  But that’s only for couples who are willing to see past their differences and work with it, instead of against it. For starters, there’s Naomi Watts (Buddhist) and Liev Schreiber (Jewish), Angelina Jolie (Atheist) and Brad Pitt (Baptist), Katy Perry (Evengelical) and Russel Brand (Atheist). But the inter-faith couple I’m rooting for the most are Taye Diggs (Christian) and Wife Idina Menzel (Jewish). Not only are they inter-faith, they are also inter-racial. They have often been the target of various extremist hate-groups for their “inter-inter marriage” but have stayed strong together, even actively supporting several social causes promoting social acceptance of minority groups like the LGBT community. Inter-faith website On Being Both writes about this power-couple and their views on raising their child “in an interfaith community, he would grow up with knowledge of the stories and awareness of the history from both sides of his family.” Now that is a truly inspiring story of how true love triumphs against all odds.

And so yet again, the Philippines is denied the top spot. So close, yet so far away. Maybe that’s our problem – we dream of being “world-class” but can’t bring ourselves to embrace the world in all its diversity. When we’re put on the spot, our first instinct is to retreat back to our tribal mentality. Perhaps the hardest lesson we Filipinos have yet to learn is how to embrace other cultures without losing our own identity.


  1. para sa akin, mas mahirap yung tanong para kay Miss Angola. Mas madali kasi panindigan yung kay Miss Philippines, ilang beses ka ba naman ikakasal sa buhay mo?

    Pero yung kay Miss Angola, panghabangbuhay nya yang pananagutan. Kung totoong she won't change anything about her, kahit na sa pagtanda nya, di pa rin sya pwedeng magpa-cosmetic surgery para panatiliin ang kanyang ganda. Ngayong Miss Universe na sya, babantayan na sya ng media kung magpapakatotoo sya sa kanyang sagot.

    • Nice. didn't consider that until now.

      Similarly, if Ms Supsup happens to change her religion for love, maybe part of the people in the world would find her a hypocrite, part would be happy for her, and even would say "that's why she didn't win that time but good for her"

      • I believe her answer didn't sit well with the judges cause it appeared selfish. If she had said that she was willing to change her religion for love, it would have appeared more acceptable, selfless even, rather than ask the guy to change his for her. To me, the safest answer would still be to let each partner continue with his/her own religion and just accommodate each other because of love. After all, numerous couples of different religions have done this and are still married up to this time. Isn't the essence of marriage accepting your partner for what and who he/she is, regardless of race, religion, etc.?

      • What is wrong with her answer?

        Simple enough. "He should love my God too."
        After stating how much she values her own beliefs and would not change them for a loved one, she finished off by implying that the other party should be the one to do it.

        I think that regardless of what her religion is, It is plain selfishness to expect people to do something you are not even willing to consider doing for them. Even if we do not talk about religion, it is not good to say that somebody else "should" do something that you are not willing to do for him/her.

        She could at least have been consistent and expressed tolerance of what the other person believes in. Instead, she said "he should…".

  2. Even though her sincerity is refreshing in these kinds of events, (what few I've seen anyway) and it's good to see she won't compromise her beliefs just to win the crown, you'd have to admit she did rather screw up the answer with that last bit. To be a Miss Universe is to be a representative of the world, and her answer was not very, well, representative-y.

  3. BITTER!!! lolz!!! it’s funny to know that all of you are so busy destroying a person’s dignity.. saying bad things about her and pulling her down. SO FUNNYYY So be it…. continue to what you’re doing… COOL!!! Pathetic.

  4. mga pilipino an laki naman po ng problema natin sa sagot ni miss shamcey.. akala nyo kung sino kayong katapata niya na magna cumlaude. opinion niya un eh.. haha bakit di kayo ang sumali sa miss universe. come think of it kung deserve niyo.. God Bless!

    • "That is a very good question. Why did I? Thank you!"

      (pardon any awkwardness of my Filipino, a translator wasn't available on such short notice)

      Yan ang hirap sa ating mga Pilipino… Hindi tayo marunong tumanggap ng "constructive criticism". Masyado tayong nagbabalat-kamatis pag may sumusuri sa atin, kahit na ito ay para sa ating ikabubuti. Imbes na intindihin ang mungkahi ng iba, iniisip natin agad na ito ay pamimintas o di kaya ay panlalait. Hindi tayo uunlad sa ganitong pag-iisip. Napatunayan mo lang ang aking sinabi na "When we’re put on the spot, our first instinct is to retreat back to our tribal mentality." Iniisip agad natin na inaapi tayo.

      Hindi "paninira" o "panlalait" ang magmungkahi sa ikabubuti ng iba. Kung pinagsabihan mo ng maayos ang isang dayuhan, tatanggapin nila ang mga puna mo at iisipin nila kung paano mas lalong mapabuti ang sarili nila ayon sa feedback mo… kung baga, "learn from your mistakes". Ang taong perpekto lang ang di na kailangang matuto pa sa mga pananaw ng iba. Mga perpekto na ba tayong lahat at hindi na natin kailangang matuto sa payo ng iba?

      "I thank you!"

  5. obviously you belong to all 3 , but without the wit or intellect to debate an issue.

    dont clog up cyberspace with meaningless retorts. it only underlines what i am saying.

  6. Crap. 3 sides of an answer.
    My answer
    Your answer and the
    Correct one.

    Those who are


    the uneducated

    the unemployed are usually good critics. lol

    • obviously you belong to all 3 , but without the wit or intellect to debate an issue.
      dont clog up cyberspace with meaningless retorts. it only underlines what i am saying.

  7. she subsequently said that her boyfriend did change his religion for her. – men will do anything to get her into bed.

    she sounds not only narrow minded but precocious which is typical of narcissistic beauty queens. me!me!me

    but meeting the president and having ticker tape parades for a 4th place beauty contestant says a lot about the priorities of the country and is over the top.

    bread and circuses for the masses.

    anyway beauty pageants are only watched by


    the uneducated

    the unemployed

    and because it is a business the finalists only come from 3rd world/emerging markets.

    the civilised world has moved on and do has womens equality/self-respect

    • Pano kung ligawan ni PNoy si Shamcey? And what if he agrees to leave the Catholic Church as per her demands? What would the CBCP say? 🙂

      • If they get married, then she'll be Shamcey Supsup Aquino. I still prefer if she married the young, rich and handsome grandson of Zalfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan!

    • Indeed : a narrow minded selfish beauty queen : I am pretty so all guys have to do what I want, even change their religion to please me, an act which she herself of course would never do.
      And the deeply brainwashed since early childhood repeatedly hammered-in religious indoctrination resulting into this spontaneous answer, is miles away from ‘honesty’ !

      About the praise that this answer was knowingly spoiling her chances as trade-in for her ‘honesty’ …. Well …. maybe the answer was given on purpose which in a Catholic Philippine mindset – where parading your religious believe in public – is gaining you the crucial points from Pinoy judges !! Of course on an international stage it will backfire.

    • Those kind of faith based separation have caused crusades, a 30 year war wrecking central Europe, civil war in Northern Ireland and Israel, Shiah – Sunni violence plus all the Muslim – Hindu violence in India, Muslim – Christian violence all over the planet, the Holocaust …and so on and on ….

      So this selfish brainwashed narrow minded lady is as far away from representing the entire world community with all its different races, cultures and believe systems as you can get.

      And that this beauty contest is hitting the headlines all over the Pinoy media landscape, a 4th placed beauty queen gets invited and honored by the president of the R of P says a lot about priorities in this country ….. Same like some weeks ago when Paris Hilton, a drug addict, regular drunk driving, 3rd rated B-movie actor with a criminal record of served jail sentences – was supposed to meet the president of the R of P for nothing more than being a celebrity party queen.

  8. that's what makes the crown harder to get. to be a winner, one must show that she can be the representative, not just of her country, but of the world. her character must reflect that she can unite all nations, embrace diversity and represent the world.

    i guess, on the part of shamcey, she was not trained to have the right mindset to be the person most qualified to wear the crown. she may be honest and confident in her answer. unfortunately, other judges are opt to find someone more fit to wear the crown. in fairness to shamcey, she did great! it's just unfortunate of her to get the hardest question. it was just bad luck to be asked a question about religion. you just cant please everyone.

    • True, but the question left unanswered is:

      Would the Miss Universe-Philippines committee now put a premium on choosing a future Miss Philippines who is personally more open on ethnicity-religion-sexuality issues in order to improve our chances?

      "Me? choose a more liberal Miss Philippines? Why did I? Thank you!"

      • Makes me wonder if the Miss Universe Phillipines committee screened all her answers to all the possible questions that may be asked of her, as part of her overall preparation? If so, then these members should share some of the blame…

        • Do you think our committee should pick the next Miss Philippines based on:

          1. Who best represents the "typical" Filipina? (most honest representation)
          2. Who best represents the "ideal" Filipina? (best foot forward strategy)
          3. Who they think has the best chances of winning an international pageant (screw national identity, we just want to win)

          • If even if say… we field a half-breed Ms. Philippines contestant that looks more Caucasian that Pinay and doesn't even speak an iota of Filipino because she grew up in the States? 🙂

            She would certainly know how to play the politically-correct game better and would have a better grasp of diversity issues because of her cross-cultural upbringing, but as for representing the country…?

          • Well, our basketball national squads are full of half-breeds, while the azkals is the most "international" squad our country has ever assembled. Yet, we are all proud of them, even if they don't speak Filipino they way you and I do. In the past international beauty pageants, we did send some half-breeds too, yet we were still rooting for thrm to win…

          • @Wes: Good point. I guess it's also important for the Philippine contestant to have a national identity, but she should be able to transcend (not shed off) such identity to be able to represent the world. This is where Shamcey failed, as seen in her answer.

          • If this was a local contest, judged by locals bred with the same views, no doubt Shamcey would have won. However, in an international contest, where even a Pinay judge is liberal in her views, our local organizers have to be more realistic and less conservative if we hope to win.

          • Lest we all forget, the Miss Universe objective is to select a pretty, sexy, curvaceous (too much?hehe) and intelligent-enough lady who can serve as an ambassador to the world at large. Thus, her personal views on otherwise insignificant issues like religion, culture, race, etc., are necessarily important if she is to "serve" and "unite" our world, even for a short while.

  9. Well, i personally love her honesty. And if it did cost her the crown, I would appreciate her being in the the 4th place because of honesty rather than being the Miss Universe with a superficial response. She was spontaneous because her answer came from the heart. And that is a feat in itself.

  10. Posted this on my wall: "The response from FF I expected (on inter-faith relationships, where the answer went too far, and our society's struggle to overcome tribalism– we got a long way to go but as FF itself shows, we are moving in the right direction). Well done."

    Salamat sa pagsulat.

  11. I think the question itself is wrong. It wasn't "Would you change your RELIGION to marry the person you love?" but rather "Would your religious BELIEFS to marry the person you love?". Beliefs are not something one can choose to have or abandon; rather they are arrived at as result of some other cognitive process. As such, one cannot forced to change beliefs even at gun; the only thing that person can do is to dishonestly declare a change in beliefs.

    If I were Chamcey I would have answered with something like, "My religious beliefs are not a matter of volition so they are not something I can change at will. However, I would be willing to change my religion to marry the person I love because my faith in God transcends religion."

    • I'm a bit wary of the faith/religion dichotomy. I suppose you meant religion in the nominal sense, that is, you register as a Catholic but do not change your beliefs if your betrothed wants to get married in a Catholic church. But "faith in God transcends religion" is popular and tiresome prattle often used by Evangelicals, in particular, to somehow show that they're better than "religious" people. They tend to claim that they are not religious but they have a personal relationship with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There's a word for that. It's called "religion."

      Religion is how you practice your faith—your beliefs despite evidence. It may be the case that your beliefs are inconsistent with your professed religion's official stances, but that only means you made up your own religion, a bastardization of a more popular one.

  12. Well Miss China embraced the world's diversity and she did even worse! I guess it's a necessity to respect religious diversity, but still not OK to accept sexual diversity? Other than that bit of irony, I completely agree.

    • plus the Miss Universe head honcho Donald Trump hates China like anything 😀

      I do wonder if Miss China even has a snowball's chance in hell to win something like Miss Universe, with the state's very tight and draconian policies in sexual diversity issues. Last month, the Chinese gov't issued a strongly worded ultimatum on all online music sites who wish to do business in China to remove all songs with gay-acceptance or sexually liberating themes. So no Lady Gaga or Katy Perry songs going through the Great FireWall of China… If a question of that nature would be asked of Miss China, she would be put in a very tight spot indeed.

  13. I was about to write something similar to this 😮 The Q&A portion of the Miss Universe this year, not just Shamcey's, has opened a lot of windows when it comes to cultural differences yet their answers seem to reflect basically the same thing – respect. And it's a good sign that no matter how different we all seem to be, we are on the same page when it comes to the fundamentals of life.

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