Did ‘Love My God’ answer cost Shamsey the crown?


If someone else other than Bb Pilipinas Shamcey Supsup had to win the Miss. Universe 2011 crown, most Filipinos would choose Miss Angola.

Few begrudge Leila Lopes, a 25-year old business student, the right to be called the world’s most beautiful woman. (That phrase is almost always reserved for the Miss Universe rather than Miss World.) Statuesque, poised and elegant in a languorous way, Lopes stood out in the crowd of 16 that hurdled the preliminaries. Angola and Philippines battled it out for the best smile. Supsup has a charming way of tilting her head, but there’s something to be said for a naturally regal bearing, best displayed in that brief pause before Lopes glided down the steps in her white, feathered evening gown.

Also Lopes, judging by her name and looks and worldview, seems to be a perfect queen for an increasingly  multi-polar world, at a time of optimism for war-weary Africa. The Associated Press reports: ” Lopes hopes her victory will allow her to assist her native Angola further escape its history of war and impoverishment and said she plans to focus on combatting HIV around the globe.” 

Very much in the “Yes, We Can” mold, Lopes sketches her passions, thus:

“I’ve worked with various social causes. I work with poor kids, I work in the fight against HIV. I work to protect the elderly and I have to do everything that my country needs.” And in answer to a post-crowning query about racism, the new Miss Universe was blunt: “Any racist needs to seek help. It’s not normal in the 21st century to think in that way.”

Notice that all of the above are of an inclusive nature, an endorsement for building social bridges and dismantling barriers.

So, yes, Miss Angola deserves that crown.  I would have rejoiced had Supsup won. Still, cheering for your contestant shouldn’t blind you to the merits of her rivals.

But 3rd runner-up? That’s a bit rough, as  other Filipino beauty queens have grouched.

Never mind her high fan rankings; that’s easily chalked up to Filipinos’ social-media savvy. (If China didn’t have that great digital firewall and those voting sites weren’t in English, that country would have broken the voting program.)

Even the most objective, rigorous among us probably ranked Supsup at least first runner-up. So what cost her the crown?

To predominantly Christian Philippines,  Supsup is a heroine for her refusal to swap faith for love. Judging from social media posts, many Filipinos see the magna cum laude (UP Diliman) and architecture board exam topnotcher as proof that intellectual advancement isn’t synonymous with spiritual perdition.

In so many words, Supsup said the first person she loves is God and there’s no giving him up for anyone.

Now, if she had stopped there, Supsup would probably have won. Supsup would probably have gained points, too, had she equated love with respect for her beliefs.

RESPECT is the operational word.

Instead — and this may have been due to time pressure as much as to personal conviction — Supsup added, “If the person loves me, he’ll love my God too.”

There’s a chasm between getting a person to respect your faith and letting you be, and insisting that he/she should follow your faith.

There’s an ocean between standing firm for your faith and forcing conversion in the name of love.

Maybe, Supsup didn’t mean that but that’s what got across to the judges. In a world that has come perilously close to the brink because of perceived religious enmity, it was an uncomfortable reminder that even the nicest of people can add to Earth’s troubles.

I think — and could be wrong — that Supsup actually meant this: That she would, in all likelihood, fall in love with someone who shares her faith; that in choosing a life partner, faith would carry great weight.

That’s not only fair. It’s also logical.

Do you really expect an atheist to fall in love with a religious conservative? Would a Catholic man who sees pro-choice gals as demons even think of marrying one? (That’s not saying his fantasies won’t be filled with the same cast he wants banished to Sheol.)

Fall in lust, maybe, but forget about love.  A Democrat and a Republican may come to a compromise. But faith, for better or worse, casts a greater shadow (or light) over our lives.

And for all that Harlequin novels and bodice-rippers send us hyperventilating with tales of sun and moon, night and day, king and beggar girl, scientific evidence show that long-term success needs to be based on shared qualities.

No, you don’t have to marry your twin or shadow — but you need something to talk about before and after sex, to put it bluntly. That tsunami of lust will recede.

Opposites attract, yes. A survey by the magazine, Evolutionary Psychology, involving 760 members of an online dating site found 85.7% claiming to be looking for opposites. Reporting on the study, the website LiveScience.com quips: “…people seek partners with their same qualities — but claim to want someone who is different”.

LiveScience also notes a study conducted by the University of Iowa in 2005, where results showed

“…that similarity in personality was more important than similarities in attitude, religion, and values in forming a happy marriage. Like-minded people validate each other’s beliefs and views, and there tend to be fewer conflicts as a result.”

Slate magazine also points out that “the real lives of celebrities,” show that  the glory of loving one’s opposite is but a myth.

Tabloids have recently seized on the rumored romance between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, both of whom recently broke off marriages with people perceived to be in some ways their opposite. Bullock, whose public image is Hollywood’s girl next door, ditched tattooed biker husband Jesse James of Monster Garage fame, while Reynolds, a happy-go-lucky funny guy, called it off with the relatively artsy and ice-cool Scarlett Johansson. Their break-ups serve as a reminder that whatever Hollywood movies—even their own!—preach, the most successful relationships are like-meets-like.

Slate adds:

It’s an established tenet of social psychology that similarities rather than differences—whether in attitude, personality, age, income, race, or religion—produce a lasting relationship. “Opposites tend to attract in the short term, but not in the long-term,” says Catherine Sanderson, a psychology professor at Amherst College who teaches a class on close relationships. “Over the long haul, one of the bigger predictors of success in relationships and marriages is similarity.” (A marriage between people with similar qualities is known as homogamy.) There’s less to fight about, for one thing. People from different religious backgrounds might want to raise children in different traditions, or those from disparate economic backgrounds might clash on the importance of education. Agreement, meanwhile—whether on movies, restaurants, religion, or favorite romantic comedies—produces positive emotions and more fruitful relationships. (It’s also true that similar people are more likely to meet each other in the first place: If you like sports, you’re more likely to be in situations where you’ll run into other sports lovers.)

Shamcey was coming from one direction, the judges from another. Our Bb Pilipinas may not not have been politically correct. We may not even agree with her. But there are as many realities in this world as there are people. Shamcey was being true to hers. And that, to her beau and kin, may be the only thing that matters.

71 thoughts on “Did ‘Love My God’ answer cost Shamsey the crown?

  1. she need not to be somebody else to get the crown if its really her belief and opinion about the question why bother to answer just to please other.. if you have something within you whether it is a just your belief you’ll stand firm by it and that i guessed should have made her win the crown.. ” if he loves me he’ll love my God” – shamcey

      • but that is the miss universe pageant and she’s there to covet the crown which involves satisfying (or pleasing) the judges with her answers. her answer should’ve revolved though around maintaining the love for that person (because that was the given scenario “the person she loves” as Fox worded it) and expounding it to the ways on how two people with diverse religious beliefs could sustain the love and relationship. it’s human love that’s being talked about here and her saying “i love God first” has put her love of God to a human level. it could’ve been more appropriate too if she phrased her response as “if that person loves me, he should be open-minded about my religion and he should also respect my beliefs.”

      • Hi Bonette, thanks for the read and comment. As Sam points out below, we all march to our own drummer :) Even if I may not agree with everything she said, and am giving her the benefit of the doubt in saying that she may have meant something else, in the end I will have to acknowledge that we all live according to the light discerned. The thing with Shamcey is, she took the consequence with a lot of grace. I may not have given the same answer (not that I’ll ever win a beauty contest, not even at barangay level LOL)… but we all weigh our options and decide the value we give anything….

    • Thanks, Joseph. Well, I suppose pageant organizers want to see how candidates stand up to awkward situations. But you’re right…. an answer that could please someone could cause another to go ballistic :(

    • I agree to this. Religion will always be controversial. Pageant questions must focus more on highlighting the woman’s personality, how she carries herself as role model of woman empowerment since I think that’s what’s Miss U is abt. It’s not about religion at all.

  2. Dati, inanalyze kung yung “major,major” answer ni Venus cost her the crown. pati ba naman to? lahat na lang ginagawa nating issue! i am sure the judges did not even care about the answers. me favorites na sila early on. since wala naman talagang nagkalat sa Q & A, tama na yun for them to vote for their favorites. move on!

    • Thanks. I have no problem with Miss Angola winning. She’s stunning, too. This was a little something I wrote for those who feel really bad. :) Just some perspective… As Joseph Nico Cando below notes, religion is always a minefield.

  3. In my humble opinion, there is no right or wrong answer to the question posed on Shamcey. It depends on how the judges will react to the answer. I believe Shamcey only stood by her beliefs and convictions in life. Still, for me, Shamcey is the best beauty queen of the Philippines’ modern times. Maganda, marunong, simple, conservative, at higit sa lahat, maka-Diyos. Beauty titles come and go but what Shamcey did today in representing the Philippines will truly leave a mark that will be very hard to surpass nor equal. I just wish Shamcey will not be tempted and then got eaten by the glitz and glamour “system” of showbiz. Sana sa News and Current Affairs na lang siya, sa Lifestyle genre siguro.

    • None. Absolutely nothing wrong with choosing a man who shares your faith! And that’s what I said in this post, di ba? I got what Shemcey meant — and spelled it out here. But I had the benefit of sitting back and leisurely examining that statement, It was the phrasing that was awkward and pageants with the short time limit for answers are not suited for parsing nuance. Judges will always take the answers at face value. They’re as under pressure as the contestants.

    • None. Absolutely nothing wrong with choosing a man who shares you faith. And I think I make that clear. I even called her choice fair and logical. I was just pointing out that the awkward phrasing — due to pressure and the fact that English IS our second language — may have sent a wrong message to the judges. They’re under pressure too and can’t be expected to parse nuance and all that in the short time alloted.

  4. Honestly, I admire Shamcey for standing up for her conviction and not be thwarted otherwise. This intelligent beauty and brains queen did not compromise her faith and instead revealed her deep love for God notwithstanding whatever may be hurled her way. Heaven is rejoicing! Filipinos should be proud if her! Jesus loves you, Shamcey! Go Shamcey!

    • Yes, Ggk, I admire her, too. I’d choose similarly. What the blog tries to show is that language (especially a second language) can trip us up sometimes. There’s no intention to disparage Shamcey :)

      • I couldnt agree more. Also, being able to think in one language doesn’t mean that you can directly translate your thoughts into your second language; in fact, you shouldn’t. But I gotta give that girl props. Shamcey did a really great job. She should’ve placed higher than Brazil :)

      • Oh, I totally agree with you, Jack. Sa gown na lang :) I thought first runner-up. I did give Miss Angola top marks in all aspects. Lea Salonga did say the choice was unanimous but she thoughtt shamcey came second. Glad you dropped by!

  5. Great insight. And I agree that talking about religion spurs disagreements and divisiveness because every person has their own beliefs and convictions. I think it’s pointless to “force” others to see things your way especially if they are not open to any discussions about that at all. I also agree with your statement about short time limit allotted and how the judges took her answer at face value because basically, there was just not much time to dwell on their answers and ponder their meanings.

  6. Great insight. And I agree that talking about religion spurs disagreements and divisiveness because every person has their own beliefs and convictions. I think it’s pointless to “force” others to see things your way especially if they are not open to any discussions about that at all. I also agree with your statement about the short time limit allotted and how the judges took her answer at face value because basically, there was just not much time to dwell on their answers and ponder their meanings.

  7. I do believe Angola deserved to win it, but purely based on chances, being a portuguese speaking African girl, — she stood out among fair-skinned fellow top 5, making her smile even brighter and her dark skin even more beautiful…. however, you are so right…3rd runner up is rough for our girl, considering Oprah’s comment….. I still believe in “grace under pressure”…. that which only Chamsey truly possessed – much more than the other 4…. there are few real winners in life… the rest of the other winners just happen to be luckier… great article, btw :-)

  8. I respect your opinion, ma’m but sometimes being politically correct beclouds a person’s real message especially when one is truly convinced about his/her beliefs….I am convinced Ms Supsup spoke from her heart…out of her values and principles…it may have cost her a temporal crown but it won for her the admiration of millions unafraid to stand by their principles…

  9. I admire Shamcey for being true to herself. She’s quite intelligent and could have easily given an answer that would have pleased the “world” but didn’t. Nice article.

  10. Superb article. I thought Shamcey deserved at least 1st or 2nd runner up, but i get why she didn’t bag the crown. The title “Miss Universe” says it all, you have to exemplify universal values, just like CNN’s slogan “Go beyond borders” and Miss Angola did just that. But I agree with you, I also give Shamcey the benefit of the doubt, that she, because of the time pressure, was not able to choose her words right in that second phrase she uttered. Should’ve taken a second or two to process her thoughts.

  11. Great article! I did feel she was contradicting her first statement when she said that the guy should love her god if he [really ] loves her. You’re right, given the first statement it was already a good answer.

  12. sayang dapat kasi yong sinbi ni shamcey yes. coz for me we believe in one God but in different names, kaya its ok for me to give up my faith. or other way around, i will not give up my faith… if he realy loves he will respect my faith… tama po yong word na kulang sa answer ni shamcey is respect

    • Thanks ann-jill, crystalraven, eugene, theryantist, laveeir, carla, mitch, em and ruby for dropping by and your thoughtful comments. Nobody has a monopoly on wisdom — certainly not me — and it is always a great pleasure to engage in dialogue even when someone is contradicting me :) Salamat po!

  13. A well written piece. I knew that her answer wouldn’t be deemed politically correct. I was just hoping that the judges would see that she answered her question succinctly, honestly, and with conviction. I guess being politically correct still bests being truthful.

    • Thanks, Alma! I think politically correct is meant to (gently) accommodate the many truths of people, allowing one to express his/her belief without stripping others of that same right :) But the great thing about Shamcey is she’s taking the consequence with such grace. Wonderful attitude.

  14. Very insightful Ms.Inday.
    I guess we cannot prevent these people from “sour graping” for 2 accounts
    1. The space given to her competitors for translation provided at least few seconds to breathe and think. I highly believed that more than half or even all of the finalists can understand simple English. (Isipin mo na lang kapag rehearsal, ano yun tinatranslate paisa-isa lahat ng sasabihin?)
    But then again, we could have used our native tongue and ask someone to translate it if we are to talk about “strategy” that some people are throwing to the other finalists. But we are confident with our candidate, we don’t really have to travel that dirty road.

    2. Here are the gist of the 5 Qs
    Ukraine: Trading her life with a historical personality.China: Public nudity Brazil: avoiding war Angola: Physical Beauty Philippines: Love & Religion
    They can say that “malas yun pa ang natapat na tanong sana sa iba na lang yun”
    Whoever got that question can be considered malas. With all due respect to people who created the questions, how come all contained one general thought and put 1 question containing 2?
    And namaaaaan…. love alone is a tricky question idagdag pa natin ang sobrang broad at very sensitive topic abt religion. wow.

    Nevertheless, our dearest Shamcey made us all proud. (make that proud times 2!)
    She managed to show the universe that our competence is truly world class.

  15. This is very well written. I’m glad to see someone noticed that nuance about her answer and had courage to write about it. Even better, you were able to elaborate and justify. I was uncomfortable with it as soon as it went viral. “There’s a chasm between getting a person to respect your faith and letting you be, and insisting that he/she should follow your faith.

    There’s an ocean between standing firm for your faith and forcing conversion in the name of love.

    Maybe, Supsup didn’t mean that but that’s what got across to the judges. In a world that has come perilously close to the brink because of perceived religious enmity, it was an uncomfortable reminder that even the nicest of people can add to Earth’s troubles.

    I think — and could be wrong — that Supsup actually meant this: That she would, in all likelihood, fall in love with someone who shares her faith; that in choosing a life partner, faith would carry great weight.”

    My thoughts exactly, but you have waaay better articulation. I commend your use of other sources as well.

  16. I got offended after hearing her answer. i was so sad. mixed emotions, happy for her faith, sad for how it affects her views in life. uh-uh moment after that. very sensitive topic actually. but it sounded “Sorry but, my God is better than yours.”

  17. tama, manang inday. magkakaiba tayo ng opinyon pero pinaalam ni shamcey sa buong mundo that her faith is unwavering.
    kahit hindi sya ang ms universe, at least she stood her ground.

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  20. Although I like Shamcey, maybe her answer appeared too ‘conservative’ to other natives. I guess Miss Universe pageant aims to choose a woman that will literally represent the diverse culture of the world. Not everyone believes in God. But I admire her with her strong convictions about her belief.

  21. Shamcey said: “If the person loves me, he’ll love my God too.”
    You said: “Respect is the operational word.”
    I’m not sure which “love” in her answer you want replaced by “respect”.
    So, let’s lay down the permutations.
    #1 – “If the person respects me, he’ll love my God too.”
    #2 – “If the person loves me, he’ll respect my God too.”
    #3 – “If the person respects me, he’ll respect my God too.”
    Not one of these sounds right.
    In itself, Shamcey’s sentence is correct. She was talking about her God that is worthy of love. To “love” or “adore” God is biblical. To “respect” God is unheard of.

    I assume that you are not privy to the judges’ interpretation of Shamcey’s answer. So your conclusion must be purely based on conjecture. Have you ever considered the possibility that many of the judges may have no religion or faith? Such that any talk about God or religion will just fall on deaf ears?

    • That’s a good point, rico. But they could be Christians, too, maybe even devout. Love comes with respect. I thought it was clear that respect referred to one’s faith, hers AND the other party’s, and that in asking that someone respect your faith by not asking you to change it, is also tantamount to doing the same to the other. If that wasn’t clear, my bad i guess :) Thanks for stopping by!

  22. Great! Very well written. We should not feel bitter for the result. Ms. Angola is black but she is indeed beautiful. And as she claims, she is also endowed with inner beauty. With Ms. Shamcey Supsup’s answer, she said, “the first person that I love is God….” But for me and I believe many would agree that God is not a person and no person should be equated to God. Maybe it’s because of the time pressure. Still, Shamcey is our country’s pride.

  23. Inday, i love your two hundred dollars worth of commentary. i wonder if you can also say something about the reply of ms. angola. she was given a situational question (“If…”) but she seemed to have hedged in her reply. Miss Ukraine had a situational question, too. She generalized at first but she boiled her answer down to Cleopatra… a woman and a leader.
    Ms. Angola had nice thoughts to share but don’t you think she should have ridden with the question instead of insisting on what she has? just wondering… keep it going

  24. The author of this article nailed it: RESPECT is the operational word. If Shamcey said something about respecting each other’s belief, she should have won the crown. Ms. Angola said something about “…RESPECT one another” when she was asked about what she would want to change to her physical appearance if she was given the chance.

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