A few years ago, Irene Juanico represented Barangay BF Homes during a beauty pageant that was part of what was back then Parañaque’s 19th cityhood anniversary. She did not make it to the final round but that did not stop progress in her life. Then on May 2018, she ran in the Barangay and SK elections, and ultimately got elected as a kagawad of the Barangay BF Homes Sangguniang Kabataan (BFSK).
Recently I got to interview the incumbent SK Kagawad at barangay hall. This is the special feature of Irene Juanico.
Irene Juanico was born in the Dela Rama community inside BF Homes subdivision. She is the only child in the family. Her mother is currently a government employee and her father is a customer associate for a courier. The SK kagawad is currently studying at San Beda Alabang taking Marketing Management.
Since she was young, Juanico got into modeling. She learned the way on not just looking pretty but also how to pose, what to wear, when to move and the like. Along the way, she participated in several pageants, modeling events and appeared as a muse in academic and sports events.
In 2017, she found a major opportunity to compete with other beauties from around the City of Parañaque by joining the Binibining Parañaque representing Barangay BF Homes.
“During my younger days, I noticed similar pageants that got organized by the SK and wondered, ‘what would it be like if I joined such events?’”, Juanico recalled. “My handlers, who paid attention to the 2017 Parañaque pageant, asked me to try out and compete since I was already into modeling. I was hesitant back then since I was just seventeen years-old but eventually I agreed to represent the barangay and compete.”
As Ms. Barangay BF Homes of 2017, Juanico joined the other candidates from different barangays practicing for the pageant, participating in showcase events (including the Sunduan-related event at SM City BF Parañaque) and more. Along the way, she had to adjust her schedule with school and family.
“The Sunduan showcase alone was challenging because I had to decide how to present myself in front of the judges, the special guests and many people watching. The pressure is real.” she said.
When asked about the evening of the Bb. Parañaque, Juanico confirmed that there was a lot of pressure not only on her to do her best but also on the other candidates as well. This was because there were so many guests watching including City Government officials, barangay officials, barangay fan groups, members of the media, family members of the candidates and the like.
Even though the pressure was high, Juanico simply focused on her future.
“I said to myself ‘win or lose, I at least represented my barangay well’. My experience also me motivate myself on participating future events representing the community,” Juanico said.
As it turned out in the 2017 pageant, Juanico’s name was not called when the organizers announced the five finalists. She and Barangay BF Homes did not go empty handed however as she won the Boardwalk Model sponsor award. That award was fitting considering the fact that Juanico had been modeling since she was little.
After the pageant, Juanico gained not only improved self-confidence but also respect and recognition from the residents of the barangay. A lot more people noticed her and remembered her participation in the city pageant.
Getting elected into the SK
A year later, Irene Juanico joined the Sangguniang Kabataan team of candidates under the umbrella of Paolo Marquez who ran for Barangay Captain (succeeding his brother Jeremy Marquez).
How did Juanico become candidate for the SK in the first place? It started with curiosity in a rather funny way.
“It all started with a joke with my friends, wondering if I should run for a seat in the youth council (Sangguniang Kabataan). They said I should do it but I reacted I was just joking. Eventually Zeny Pascual contacted me and asked me if I was willing to run. I replied that I would do it,” she recalled.
For Juanico, her candidacy was to inspire other youth of the barangay to aim higher in their lives. It was also her way of showing that a pretty face like her can climb up higher and become a public servant under the reformed Sangguniang Kabataan system. She really went against the local community’s conventional thinking that pretty faces or models have no place in public service which itself is ironic because charm (which comes in very different forms) is a factor on getting elected. She formally met with Paolo Marquez finalizing her candidacy.
During the summer of 2018, she and her teammates struggled to convince voters to trust them and vote for them. They went around from one house to another both in the mission areas (depressed communities) and also inside gated subdivisions. Shook hands and met with people of different walks of life (even former classmates of hers). They also took part in caucuses to reach out to the voters.
“When the campaign ended at last, I recovered by treating myself to a fast food meal. Then I went home to finally get some rest. I prayed to God. I had a very restful sleep and I really felt rejuvenated. Shortly after, my mother told me I won,” Juanico said.
Juanico’s victory in the 2018 Barangay and SK Elections for Barangay BF Homes was, indeed, a major milestone in her life. She and her friends celebrated and she cried out of happiness.
SK Kagawad Juanico and the SK Committee on Health
As an SK Kagawad, Juanico served with her colleagues under chairwoman Mariel Tumang. She is handling the SK Committee on Health. In recent times, the BFSK organized seminars about AIDS, mental health, teenage pregnancy, reproductive health and PWD (persons with disabilities) all of which were projects of her committee.
As of this writing, SK Kagawad Juanico is striving to get not only youth but also pre-teens and children involved with health projects and activities. There are also PWD children (as young as 1-year-old) that she wants to assist. The BFSK is also looking for private organizations as key partners to serve the youth and those with special needs. Team-ups with the health activities of Barangay BF Homes Kagawad Cielo Lazatin have been made.
Juanico confirmed that her committee has several more projects coming in 2020.
Message to the Readers
“Service is something that can be given to others without position and without expecting anything in return. It is better to give than to receive. Public service requires not only action but a whole lot of heart.”
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