Let me share with you the beautiful memories of my humble beginnings. I was born and raised in an uncivilized village in a remote island called antequera, bohol in the Philippines. I am fondly called “tata” by neighbors and friends. In the village there was no electricity and no running water. We take our baths and wash our clothes in the river, situated deep in the forest. We carry our laundry on top of our heads walking through the wooded rugged terrains, in hopes that we don’t encounter or step on snakes, in which I did a few times. We cook our food this way, these are the typical houses of my neighbors. These are the gas lamps that gave us light in the evenings. I struggled to do my homework with very minimal gas lights. This was my grandmother's sewing machine. This was the potty/pee bowl we out next to us when we sleep in the evenings, because the toilet is separated from the house. The small radio was the only form of daily entertainment, by listening to radio soap operas. Sweet potato and steak rice and salted preserved fish were a daily common food. This was our road to the village and this is how I played. This was a was a typical kitchen of my neighbors, the bamboo jar was our piggy bank. We had bonfires in the afternoons to keep the mosquitos away. There were no beds, we all slept on the floor together with a mat made from coconut leaves. The older the mats, the softer it gets. I just go to the forest every 2 days to gather up dead woods to be used for our daily cooking. I carry the bundled dead stems of woods on my head. My school was next to a beautiful wooded running river. I walked a mile to school barefoot with my lunch wrapped in banana leaves tied around with a banana string. A simple steam ride and salted fish is a typical daily lunch for school.
..It was peaceful, beautiful, far and untouched by modern marvels. My grandmother always used to tell me afternoon stories as I sat on the floor with my face leaning on her knees. She sat on her window chair “if there is going to be a world war, it will never reach antequera because it is so far”. As the village church bells rang every 6, we all dropped what we are all doing, kneel down in front of the family altar, and I lead the family in a daily rosary prayer in Portuguese. You can miss a whole days meals, but this must never be missed! My grandfather gathers up all of the chickens just before sundown daily, when one chicken is missing, he sends me out to search, catch and bring the chicken home. I actually became good doing this since I was 6 years old!
A simple and brief insight into my beautiful childhood…
At 16 years old: I landed in a country called America! At 21 years old, my first job in America was at the Beverly Hills hotel where I embarked on what turned out to be such an amazing successful career as an event planner. I went in to become the senior catering sales manager of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites. Then on to the historic Millenium Biltmore Hotel, a total of 24 glorious years in the hospitality industry.
In 2003, I was given a “gift” - The Miss Asia USA, I then created Virgelia Productions Inc to house the pageants. I continued to work in the hotel industry while simultaneously running a full time business and a single mother of three.
In 2010, armed with 5 lawyers, a fearless determination never to give up and an insatiable desire to succeed. I win a 5 year historic trademark lawsuit against the Miss Universe organization / Donald Trump. What an experience that was!
Now, I am enjoying my passion if producing beautiful cultural pageants that unites diversities and the multitudes of cultures now rooted in America. Celebrating its 33rd year anniversary!
Life is truly amazing!
If you have a problem, there will be a solution…
If you are down, you’ll be yo soon.
So… hang in and hang on, the best of life is yet to come!
I am Virgelia Villegas