Sarah Borja Filush won the coveted Miss Earth Guam title on the strength of her personality and her reply to a difficult question. The Girl who likens herself to the mother of dragons indeed has all the answers.
Photography by Toto Labrador | Styling by Mike de Guzman
Production Design by Mickey Hirai | Makeup by Pong Nui
Hairstyling by Renz Pangilinan
In the HBO series Game of Thrones, an assorted group of men known as the Sworn Brothers leave everything behind, don black clothes and swear to live and die at their post in the Wall, a fortification made mostly of ice. The immense structure is the only thing that keeps the wildlings and the even more deadly white walkers from overrunning the Seven Kingdoms.
While the real world does not have wild men or ice monsters, there is nevertheless the phenomenon known as global warming that threatens to wreak havoc on the planet and all the living things it nurtures. Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware of this situation that several efforts have been put in place to combat, if not totally eradicate, this threat to the world such as the glamorous Miss Earth pageant, whose winners are chosen not only for their looks, but more importantly for what they bring to the table, as far as the Earth’s issues are concerned.
In this regard, we can consider all Miss Earth titleholders as members of the Night’s Watch, sworn protectors not only of seven kingdoms but also of the entire planet.
Uno recently had a close encounter with one of these “Sworn Sisters” – this year’s Miss Earth Guam, Sarah Filush, whose answer during the question-and-answer round may have tilted the balance in her favor. Asked how she would use social media to promote environmental sustainable behavior, she answered, "Social media is a powerful and useful tool in spreading information, and how I would utilize that tool would be by promoting recycling, teaching our community the easy and different ways to go green and lastly just spreading awareness on our island’s environmental issues." Very well said, indeed.
So on one particularly sunny day, we were face-to-face with Ms. Filush, whose deep-set eyes seemed to bore through us, and to put us under her spell. It was a magical moment, just like when Tyrion Lannister first set foot on top of the 700-foot wall and gazed at everything beyond it. It took us a while to find ourselves again and shoot her our questions.
Congratulations on being crowned Miss Earth Guam. Was it a tough competition?
The MEG was by far the toughest competition I’ve ever participated in. Because this whole pageant life is so foreign to me, I had to start from scratch with everything! Hair, makeup, gowns, 7-inch heels, nails, lashes, extensions. Prior to the pageant, these were all things I couldn’t really care less about. I never had to learn, love and master something within such a short period of time. Toughest experience yet, but I did it!
Aside from bringing home the crown, what was the most rewarding thing about the pageant?
The moment when Miss Earth International Olga Alava placed that crown on my head, I knew that I was going to be representing my home, my island. You can’t put a price on that.
Was there any instance during the contest when you had a doubt about your chance of winning? If so, what did you do to overcome that?
Oh, definitely! Did you see my competition? I was competing against 17 beautiful ladies, models and former pageant contestants! I was a rookie on a team full of all-stars. But there was no point, no time and no energy to focus on any of that. I knew I had to do my absolute best, give it all I got, and show the judges, the audience and Guam what I had to offer.
How about during the question-and-answer portion, were you nervous? What were you thinking then?
Of course the Q&A is the most nerve-wracking segment of the event. Everyone in the entire room was cringing in their seats. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the determining factor of how smart a girl is; it’s simply how well she handles herself under an intense amount of pressure. Was I nervous? Heck yeah, I was! The trick was not [to concern yourself] to give the correct answer, but to showcase to the judges and audience who Sarah Borja Filush was by the way I talk, how I react and how I think. What was going through my head at that very moment was, “This is it, Sarah! Show them what you’ve got!” I did just that.
You answered your question quite well. But looking back, what question do you think would have left you dumbfounded, as in totally speechless because you wouldn’t know how to answer it?
Controversial topics such as religion, politics and sexuality have been popular Q&A topics for international pageants. I would have to say that questions along those lines would have left me a
little dumbfounded in the sense that my answer
would most likely offend someone in the audience, maybe even a judge.
What was going through your mind when there were only the two of you finalists, and they were about to announce the first runner-up?
By that point, I was already ecstatic because I knew I was either queen for this year or 2013. But to be honest, I remember looking to my right, at Katarina, the 6-foot goddess, thinking, “2013! Here I come!” When they announced me as Miss Earth Guam 2012, my heart fell straight into my stomach! Excitement, surprise, joy…all kinds of feelings ran through me! Truthfully, I vaguely remembered being crowned. It wasn’t until I was standing there, hearing the screams of my friends and family that everything had finally sunk in. That was and will be one of the most memorable, rewarding moments of my life.
How would you describe Sarah Filush, the individual?
She is a far cry from a pageant queen, and that’s the honest truth! You know how everyone has that one friend who isn’t afraid to make a complete fool out of him/herself? The one you send to check “what that noise is,” the first to jump off a cliff, explore that dark, scary abandoned building, get pushed down a hill in a shopping cart? I’m that friend. I’m also the friend who is most likely to have something in her teeth, whose dress is stuck in her panty, who is wearing her clothes inside out or falling down the stairs. I just lack attention to detail; it’s a malady I’ve been suffering from since birth.
Music and sports have been your passion since childhood. But what if you can only choose one? Which would it be?
That’s a tough one. I love both equally. However, I made a promise to my hero, my late grandfather Felix Borja, that I will never quit playing the piano. He was a man of very few words and little emotion, but seeing and hearing me play put the biggest smile on his face. I knew my grandfather was proud of me, an emotion he could not hide. So that’s a promise I do not intend to break. Sorry to my basketball ladies, but music it is!
You also want to get a PhD and become a professor at the University of Guam. How has your winning the Miss Earth Guam pageant fit into the scheme of things?
Being Miss Earth Guam doesn’t necessarily affect my goal to be a professor. I know for a fact that I won’t be announcing to the world that I was Miss Earth at that point of my life. The last thing I need is for my students to be looking up pictures, videos and magazine spreads of their professor!
You’re also into mixed martial arts. Does that mean that nobody can mess with you?
I know how to take care of myself. Enough said.
What’s fun for you?
I have fun every single day because I hang around good people! From eating to partying, to working out, to cruising, there’s never a dull moment if you’re around the right group of people.
Where would you bring someone who’s looking to have a great and memorable time in Guam?
There are so many things to do in Guam! But if I were to take a visitor to have a memorable time, I’d get a good group of friends to go paddle boarding! Nothing like cruising our beautiful ocean, tying our boards to a buoy, swimming in our clear blue waters and chilling out, enjoying paradise.
What is the biggest gift Guam has ever given you?
The “Miss Guam” title. Absolutely honored!
What comes first to your mind when you hear these words:
What’s your ultimate goal in life?
To be a loving wife and a hot mom!
When was the last time a movie made you cry?
Odd Life of Timothy Green.
What is a romantic date for you?
Take me to a game, eat some hot dogs and drink some beer!
Flowers or chocolates? Chocolates.
Fruit juice or soda? Soda with a splash of juice.
Designer clothes or locally made? Both.
Miss Earth or Miss Universe? Really?
Obama or Romney? Romney.
What would be the “man of your dreams?”
Respectful, hardworking, devoted, cheerful, positive, supportive, aggressive, confident, attractive, athletic, macho, can speak Chamorro, and…can kill a pig.
Do you think there’s a political career in your future?
Oh, absolutely! Correct me if I’m wrong, but being a politician is either about getting the job done or knowing someone who knows how to get the job done. I’m definitely capable of doing both. Watch out Guam, future Senator Sarah Filush on a campaign sign near you!
When you were a kid, did you wish for something for your birthday or for Christmas that didn't come true or wasn't given to you?
More like when did I ever get something that I really wanted or wished for! I remember being a kid who was water blasting the patio, raking the yard and washing and waxing the cars, trying to make enough money to get what I wanted. I was taught to work hard for what I want in life.
What do you think would happen if you were transported back in time, to the age of knights
and kings, when the empowerment of women was virtually non-existent? Would you try to
prove yourself, having the knowledge and skills you possess?
It’s so natural for me to be “one of the boys.” I know for a fact that if I were living during that time, I would be trying my hardest to prove that I can fight alongside the men. Joan of Arc and I would’ve been best buds!
Which character in the HBO TV series Game of Thrones can you relate to? Are you a Catelyn, a Cersei or a Daenerys?
Daenerys is the mother of dragons and can walk through flames! Definitely that one.
Would you rather rule a kingdom yourself or be the woman behind the king?
I believe that behind every powerful man is a powerful woman. Taking care of a man that rules
a kingdom would be more rewarding and satisfying for me.
A short message to our Uno readers out there?
If you’re taking time to read this, thank you! Hope you enjoyed my issue!