She is ready to empower, the first Filipina crowned as Miss Intercontinental is Karen Gallman. Being a beauty queen wasn’t written on her pad of dreams, but the stars aligned for her to be one. Binibining Pilipinas 2012 was her first beauty pageant experience, and from there, she agreed with the stars. After years of preparation, she knew 2018 will make her dream come true. The beauty queen spills how being chill and fun shine her way to get the crown.
How’s been the last few months changed your life after being Miss Intercontinental 2018?
It has been quite busy, with the media tours and planning what the year has for me. There will be a few travelling overseas.
It took some time for me to in sink in that I am the first Filipina to win Miss Intercontinental in 47 years. It was a big surprise, one that I will cherish, a significant moment in my life. And now, I am excited, I’m excited to travel, I’m excited to empower.
Has it been your childhood dream to become a beauty queen?
No, actually it was my mom’s dream. She pushes me to join beauty pageants. My dream was to be an actress.
When did the change happened?
When I first joined Binibining Pilipinas in 2012, I still wanted to be an actress, but I said “why not try doing pageantry,” because it’s a good platform. If you win you can get your name out there, and it is one way of getting into showbiz. So, I did and I fell in love with pageantry, I had a great experience.
Then I knew, I would join again. Binibining Pilipinas is one of the biggest pageants here in the country. It became a part of my dream. Every Binibining Pilipinas season, I would always think “should I go next year or not?” but I did finish my studies first and I was just preparing for myself. It took me 6 years to join again, because it’s not easy. You need to be prepared emotionally, mentally, and physically especially if you’re studying or working. So, everything has to be on-hold, and that’s what I did, I left my job, and move back to the Philippines for pageantry.
What is that one thing you’ve learned during your Miss Intercontinental journey, that you are applying on your life right now?
Not to pressure myself and just enjoy. I came in wanting to have friends that I will forever contact throughout even after Miss Intercontinental. I just wanted to go and have fun, make friends, I wasn’t super gigil, and because of that mentality, I wasn’t so stress, I did not pressure myself even though everyone was pressuring me about it, because there isn’t yet a Filipina who won the crown. There was a lot of pressure, but I just wanted to have fun and it showed on-stage, I was out there and enjoyed myself. And that’s the kind of mentality I want to have throughout any experience I go for, any competition, or in life in general. I just don’t pressure myself, take it day by day, enjoy, and do my best.
What do you think is the most challenging part when you started preparing for Miss Intercontinental?
There wasn’t so much preparing, I just enjoyed. I enjoyed working out with my personal trainer during the day and working out by myself at night. I ate healthy. I really enjoyed the training and whole journey. Picking out clothes to wear, what my national costume would be, everything was my say. I wanted to choose everything myself, it should reflect me as a person.
The most challenging would be being away from my family, my fiancé, because they’re in Australia. So, it was hard that it was just me. Although, they would always check up on me from time to time.
During the pageant, your family wasn’t present?
Wala, even now. It’s only me here in the Philippines. My fiancé would come from time to time to visit me, but he’s not based here. That was the hardest part, being away from them, because it really helps if you’re surrounded by friends and family all the time. I didn’t have that luxury, but I enjoyed every part of the preparation and the pageant.
After your Miss Intercontinental success, what is your next goal?
I have a lot of dreams and goals that I want to pursue, but I like to keep things quiet and just keep it to myself. I don’t want to say it out loud. Abangan nalang.
Do you plan to go back in London after your reign or stay here in the Philippines to be an actress as one of your dream?
I don’t think my face fits the actress face standards here in the Philippines. My face is different, it’s not for protagonist roles, for antagonist, maybe. I don’t want to be a pigeon hole, like for antagonist roles only. If I want to act, I want variety of roles, to experience doing different roles. I just don’t think my face is suitable for the market. But if there are projects for me, sure! I’ll stay here.
Tell us more about your advocacy which is to improve compulsory education in the rural areas? How’s it been?
The vision I have for this advocacy is to create change. It is quite tough to start. I did sit down with UNICEF and there is a protocol and process to be their global ambassador. We went through the programs they have in the provinces of the Philippines, and that was very insightful, something that I would love to work with them soon. Right now, it’s just really hard with my schedule, with the travels, I can’t really commit and just stay here and do the programs. At the same time though, it’s really good that I’m bringing awareness about it. That’s the first step, second step is working with DepEd or UNICEF and making it happened. It is not easy, It’s not just putting up a library, it’s changing the education system in a way. Hopefully there will be progress and changes throughout the year.
I’ve read that you’re an avid traveler, what country is favorite so far? And what country is next on your list?
Various! I love Southern France, it’s so beautiful! I like Nice, Cannes, and Monaco, in that area. I love the beaches and the weather. Iceland is one of the most memorable, because it’s like a different planet, it’s incredible. And I love London, it’s like a second home to me. I love different parts of the world for different reasons.
What do you like to do during your free time?
I enjoy reading, like business books. I love to read and just do nothing. If I have free time I just catch up some sleep, because on times that I’m busy it’s always on-the-go.
Who is Karen Gallman behind the glamour? How would you describe yourself behind the glamour?
Laidback and makulit. I am easy going. I’m happy to go out in public without wearing any makeup or doing my hair, I really don’t care about those things. And I like to consider myself as fun. Fun to be around, makulit minsan.
What advise can you give to our new Miss Intercontinental Philippines?
Don’t pressure yourself. That is something that I told myself and I would tell to any other candidates. Don’t pressure yourself, don’t stress too much, don’t sweat the small stuff. Just enjoy it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, make the most out of it. Be present, enjoy, and don’t forget to smile.