Uno Cover Girl - Camarin Mendiola

March 16, 2016 John Calvo

A Walk in the Reign

At 17 years old, she's one of the youngest contestants to have represented Guam on an international level. From being depressed to dominating the Miss World Guam 2013 stage, this is how it feels to step into the high heels of a beauty queen.

Words by Julius Caesar Santos and Alex A. Gatpandan
Images by Jay Tablante
Styling by KC Leyco Mempin
Hair and Makeup by Jopie Sanchez
Set Design by Raffy Tesoro
Location at Alex Restoration

The camera lights are blinding. Her legs feel like Jell-O from an evening of striding up and down the catwalk with all the grace, elegance, and composure needed to compete in a beauty pageant. If not for a recent dramatic change in the course of her destiny, she wouldn’t even be standing here. She keeps her calm even as her heart pounds like a drum. As the master of ceremonies gets ready to read the judges’ verdict, she scours the audience with her eyes, desperate to find her family.

There, amidst the masses, she connects with her mother, whose own eyes mirror what she feels inside: both anxiousness and excitement. The tension mounts to an unbearably high level. Then she hears it, the name of the girl next to her, the only other survivor in this tough competition and the one who is deemed the first runner-up. Tension gives way to a tremendous sensation of relief and triumph. A single thought resonates throughout her entirety, drowning out the loud roar from the crowd. We did it. In that moment of victory, she recognizes her family and the team that supported her throughout her journey—a quality indicative of a true beauty queen. This is the story of Camarin Mendiola, Miss World Guam 2013.

Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Camarin found herself being swept up by life's tornado. In a twist of fate that could only come out of a fairy tale, an injury steered her a bit off path. Before entering the Miss World Guam pageant in 2013, she was hard at work, training to make the Guam women's national basketball team. When the big tryout day finally came along, she ruptured her medial patellofemoral ligament, the tissue that helps hold the kneecap in place. That meant she could no longer play for the team.

Not one to give up, Camarin provided support and encouragement by taking up the basketball team manager position. The national team would go on to dominate the league and win the championship, a moment that anyone could imagine would be bittersweet.

Depressed and filled with the kind of uncertainty that’s nearly impossible to pinpoint, she sought the advice of her Theology teacher. Little did she know that this would be the catalyst that propels her into the spotlight. Her teacher suggested that she try to find herself by helping others. Following that advice, Camarin took an interest in community service. It was when she decided to serve others that everything started to go her way–serendipitous, to say the least.

Almost immediately, Camarin was asked if she was interested in joining the 2013 Miss World competition. Intrigued by the pageant’s theme ("Beauty with a Purpose"), Camarin felt she had finally discovered her calling. Not only could she continue to help her community and promote her charity, the Make A Wish Foundation, she could also open new doors in her life while overcoming some of her personal fears. The rest, as they say, was history.

After the coronation, Camarin was catapulted into the commitment that wearing the crown entailed. She spent the year attending to her duties diligently, from traveling to exotic and unfamiliar destinations like Japan, Korea, Philippines, Bali and Taipei, sharing the Hafa Adai spirit and beauty of Guam’s culture with the world, to helping those in need right here at home. No task was too tiny or tiresome for her highness.

When we asked about her most memorable moments during her reign, we expected stories of her exploits abroad during the international competition. Much to our surprise, she chose to share a story that was both compassionate and heart warming.

It was at the Guam Memorial Hospital, where she and her mother were caroling for patients on Christmas morning. While making their rounds, the nurses advised Camarin to skip a certain room because a young girl was easily startled by loud noises. Camarin obliged, but still the young girl noticed her walking past her room.

Apparently, the curiosity and imagination of the young girl seeing the twinkle of Camarin’s crown gave her the strength and courage to overcome her fear. Clinging to her mother like a baby koala, she asked if she could take a closer look at the crown. Camarin thought of something better and insisted that the girl wear the crown, on the condition that she allowed her majesty to sing to her.
So who walked away with the bigger gift that day, the young girl symbolically inspired to face her fears just to see real life royalty in person? Or Camarin, who was given a rare opportunity to enrich someone's life and be rewarded with the sense of accomplishment, pride, and privilege that comes with the gesture? It’s safe to say this one was a draw.  

Every journey has to end, and Camarin counted her blessings the whole way through—never taking her role for granted and pushing past the intimidation of all the responsibility required by the crown. Through her burning desire to experience the world and conquer it, in her own little way, she’s become the full-fledged sharing, compassionate, and family-oriented young lady that she is today. As honored as she was of being chosen to represent our island, she was ready to relinquish her reign. Camarin expressed complete confidence in her successor, Miss World Guam 2014, Chanel Victoria.

What’s your favorite outfit?
Anything comfortable yet classy.

When you’re free, where do you hang out?
The beach, especially Fujita Beach. It’s not as rocky as the others, the sand is very smooth, and even though a lot of people go there, it’s never packed.

If you can just have one kind of food while stranded on an isolated island, what would it be?
Country Brown from King’s. I just love it.

What’s your favorite drink?
Green tea. My whole family drinks it, and it’s kinda our substitute for water.

What do you think is the sexiest part of your body?
My eyes. I like to establish eye contact with people to establish my place with them.

What movie made you cry?
Divergent. I guess it’s because the heroine has a very strong character that it made her leave her family to do her own thing, and she lost her parents. I can’t imagine myself experiencing that.

What movie made you LOL?
That would be Hangover 3.

Fill in the blank. “I would die for…”
My family. Just this whole experience with being Miss Guam, I wouldn’t have made it if not for their support. There’s no way I can pay them back for what they have done for me.

What Hollywood actor fits your definition of the ideal man?
I would pick Channing Tatum ‘cause I just love a man in uniform… or… Chris Evans from Captain America. But if I have to pick just one, I’d go for Chris ‘cause Channing is so mainstream.

How do you define a romantic date?
It doesn’t have to be very five-star, like he spends so much for our dinner. It’s more of him telling me about his feelings, about what he does… and he takes me to some place really, really special.

Any message for your fans and Uno readers?
Hafa Adai to everyone. I’m so excited to be on the cover of Uno, and I’d like to thank you for always believing in me, and for being by my side always. 

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