Miss Vietnam’s story inspires Bicol youth

GORGEOUS GUEST AND HER HOSTS. Miss Vietnam, dressed in Filipiniana pants, is surrounded by FPPFI President Atty. Francis Padua Papica who is himself garbed in Vietnam-inspired costume, event organizer Leanne Zuniga-Montemayor (leftmost) and her pageant trainor Anjo Santos (rightmost). At Miss Vietnam’s right is her manager, Hoang Viet Bao Tran from Unicorp.

NAGA CITY --- She has left a few ago but many Bicolanos would not forget how she brought warmth and happiness since she set foot on this fair city, better known as “Maogmang Lugar”, as guest of a major event. H’Hen Nie, Miss Vietnam 2018, was at the Jesse M. Robredo Coliseum for the 2019 Bicol Youth Congress, an annual event being staged by Francis Papua Papica Foundation, Inc. (FPPFI) Youth Congress in the city. US-based Bicolano lawyer Francis Padua Papica, FPPFI chairman, shouldered Ms. Nie’s round trip plane ticket from Vietnam and back and answered for all her accommodation and tour expenses while here in the Philippines for the biggest youth congress held annually in Bicol. The youth congress was attended by over 12,000 students and youth leaders from all over Bicol, especially from Camarines Sur and this city, who filled to the brim the spacious coliseum named in honor of another Bicol icon. “More than her obvious beauty, it was her story that captivated me,” Atty. Papica was quoted as saying. He said he sought Hen as speaker, no matter the cost, because she’s a role model for the youth. “I contacted Miss Universe Organization Vietnam and it responded positively with the help of her pageant coach and trainor, fellow Bicolano Anjo Santos whose fashion and modeling shop is based in this city. Aside from experiencing the Filipino hospitality, Miss Vietnam met Miss Universe 2010 4th runner-up Venus Raj who also hails from Camarines Sur. Local couturier Ariel Alvarez clothed her with Maria Clara gown while Avenue Plaza Hotel where she was billeted served her laing, a famous local dish in Bicol. Miss Hen wowed the global audience when he ended in the Top 5 during the 2018 Miss Universe Pageant held in Bangkok, Thailand late last year. That pageant was eventually won by Miss Philippines Catriona Gray as Miss Universe. Gray is a Bicolana from Albay.

BICOL HOSPITALITY. Miss Vietnam 2018 H'Hen Nie visits Naga City for a Youth Congress, where she shared her inspiring story. Screenshot from Instagram/@hhenie.official/@tuankhoi02

According to an article by Philippine Star columnist writer Ricky Lo, Hen is the third of 6 children. She worked at the farm at young age and refused to follow her matrilineal tradition of marrying at the age of 14. According to the same article, Miss Vietnam also worked as domestic helper to support her education. After winning Miss Universe Vietnam, the lanky and tall beauty used all her prize money of $10,000 to provide scholarship at her old school. Also, she used her prize money of $40,000 from the Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok to give back to her community. Leanne Z. Montemayor