Janine Tugonon in the eyes of her family

Posted at 12/04/12 6:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The mother of Janine Tugonon, the country’s bet for this year’s Miss Universe pageant, could not help but cry when her daughter left for Las Vegas for the competition on Sunday.

2012 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Janine Tugonon

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Tess Tugonon said this will be the first time that her daughter will be away from her for a long time.

While the beauty queen’s family will follow her to the US next week, Tess said she could not help but be emotional given the pressure surrounding her participation in the highly anticipated beauty pageant.

“Iba kasi ang pinasok ng anak ko. Parang marami siyang aabuting judgment, maraming comments. The first time na pumasok siya, talagang I was devastated by the comments. Although may mga positive naman. Iyon ang pinaka-setback lang sa akin kaya ako medyo kabado sa ganitong competition,” she said.

Tess, however, said her anxiety is just normal because no mom would want to hear something bad about her son or daughter.

Meanwhile, she said their whole family are praying that Janine will be victorious in the international pageant.

“Sabi ko lang sa kanya ‘I-enjoy mo lang, anak. You’ve got to have faith. If it’s God’s will, you will be Miss Universe.' But still nandoon pa rin ang role natin na we have to be relentless in our prayers, keep on knocking on heaven’s doors.’ He might surprise us so let’s just wait and see na lang,” she said.

Just a simple girl

Meanwhile, Janine’s sister Jessica described her sister as “just a simple girl” even after she won Bb. Pilipinas.

“Sobrang simple niya before and after winning. Pero minsan lalabas na siya nakaayos kasi siyempre beauty queen siya eh. Pero [hindi talaga siya mapagmataas],” she said.

Away from her image as the beauty queen who will represent the Philippines in Miss Universe, Janine at one point tried to sell raw fish as a sideline source of income, according to Jessica.

“Into business siya, super. Nagta-try siya ng kung anu-ano. May one time nagbebenta siya ng raw fish, lapu-lapu, yellow fin. Nabantayan ko lang siya noong unang beses siya nagbenta tapos tuwang tuwa siya noong kumita na,” Janine's sister said.

Jessica said she has mixed emotions as her sister competes with more than 80 contestants in Las Vegas on December 19 (December 20 in Manila).

“Wala pa [akong} nararamdaman [ngayon] pero siguro kapag palapit na or pageant day na, matatakot ako siguro. Nakaka-panic, nakakaiyak, super mixed emotions. Pero nakaka-secure naman kasi obviously, ready naman na siya,” she said.

But just like her mom, Jessica said she prays for Janine regularly as she tries to make history for the Philippines. -- from a report by Ginger Conejero, ABS-CBN News