Helen Ligutom Director of Mrs Euro Philippines Universe
Updated: Nov 10, 2022
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to welcome amazing Helen Ligutom Director of Mrs Euro Philippines Universe.
Full name: Helen Y. Ligutom
Pageant Name: Mrs Euro Philippines Universe, Mrs Universe Germany, Mrs Universe Benelux, Mrs Universe Continental Europe, Mrs Universe Finland
Year system was created: 2019
Charity system supports: Have own charity projects that existed years ago
Countries or states system has representation in: Europe
Home Country or State: The Netherlands
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: To those unfamiliar with your pageant system please tell us what is it about? Our pageant system is a bit different from other organizations because we focus on the physical and inner aspects of a woman. It is a combination of judging the previous charitable activities, character and the actual competition that focuses on the appearance, performance, catwalk and intelligence. Moreover, candidates have registration fees to cover their personal costs such as hotels; casual wear; production number outfit; dinner activity; make-up artist; photos of the event; swim suit; t-shirt for rehearsals; foods, drinks and snacks. Candidates will only provide an evening gown and any traditional costume for the finals. The top 5 winners will compete for the Q & A portion. The Grand Winner of our event will be sent to the Mrs Universe competition and runners-up will receive cash prizes as well. All the Candidates have the opportunity to vie for any minor or major awards. So far, our pageant system works properly and our organization is now recognized as one with a fair competition.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: Tell us what inspired you to start your system? Since I joined several beauty pageants in the past, I gathered all the positivity I’ve learned and put it together to create a good pageant system. This resulted in the creation of a system whereby candidates vie the fierce competition of the different categories during the final shows, the charitable deeds in the past and the character.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: Please tell us the founding story of the system. During the 1st edition of the Mrs Euro Philippines Universe, it is somewhat a sort of experimentation and try out, that is why we have used raffle tickets so that candidates can sell to their supporters for the registration fee to cover their personal costs. The Filipino community and organizers in Europe have used this system and I don’t want to shock candidates to introduce a registration fee directly. However, due to the raffle tickets’ negative impact and brought only too much strain both for candidates and our organization, I decided to phase out this system and directly introduce the registration fee on our 2nd edition. This system is easier and candidates can just ask for sponsorships from friends. This resulted in a well-organized and less stressful event.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: What was the vision and the goal in the beginning while creating your pageant. My vision and goal in the beginning of our organization is to empower women that beauty pageant is not all about glamour and glitz, but also how to make a difference in people’s lives. Mostly, women who have joined in any beauty pageants have boosted their self-esteem and confidence. As a mother and a Beauty Pageant fanatic, my focus is to empower the older category that is why I chose the Mrs category to uplift women especially mothers to develop their capabilities and strength. Their perspective is broader so I chose to provide a podium for these women who want to empower others and make a difference in this world.
The conventional Mrs pageant that focuses only on married women, over the years has transcended to include non-married women as well such as living together, divorced, separated, widowed, single mother or in a relationship. I believe this development is astounding because non-married women need more encouragement and empowerment. It can lift them up and give confidence to any situation of life they are dealing with.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: Please tell us about yourself. (Personal, non-pageant) My name is Helen Y. Ligutom, born in the Philippines and residing in the Netherlands for 20 years now. I am the Co-owner and CEO of Elexa Land Development Corporation, both registered in the Netherlands and in the Philippines that focuses on the acquisition and development of lands such as agritourism, resort, hotel and commercial development. As a company, we focus on sustainable development and are highly involved in improving conditions for the local communities. At the same time, I am the Director of Mrs Euro Philippines Universe, Mrs Universe Benelux, Mrs Universe Germany, Mrs Universe Finland 2022 and Mrs Universe Continental Europe 2021.
Growing up in the Philippines had a strong impact on my values and beliefs. Living through the civil war, I experienced food scarcity and a diet that mostly consisted of only rice and salt or dried fish. To outrun the civil war precariousness, we had to move several times having to rebuild our lives over and over again. As a child, I encountered hardships and uncertainties in life. To sustain the difficulty in life and earn a modest allowance, I worked in the rice field and started trading goods at school. Working in the fields showed me the value of education thus, I worked hard to excel and managed to achieve scholarships. I always believe that life is a matter of choice. I chose to work hard and overcome poverty.
Supporting local communities in the Philippines to provide this generation a way out of poverty is one of my life’s missions. In the small villages, poverty and food scarcity is still a problem with children lacking decent nutrition. Although I am doing charities in my own way through the years, it was only in 2018 that I started executing charities directly to the recipients. I supported the construction of a school canteen to one of the least developed elementary schools in Palawan, Philippines. In 2019, I provided a one month feeding program for the less fortunate children to an underdeveloped public high school. I also provided supplies to repaint the walls and bring back color to one of the public elementary schools in Cotabato, Philippines. In 2020, in collaboration with some of my beauty queens, we have supported 13 schools and donated supplies to aid the students in their education through the Pandemic. It is my gratitude to give back and as a small contribution in providing equal opportunity to the less fortunate children in the Philippines.
The art of giving is always my heart’s desire. That is why, I organize events to support my cause in helping others. Charity is also where the beauty of the Mrs Euro Philippines Universe shines. We allocated budgets for the charity of our own projects and choices. Our 2022 Grand and Charity Queen winner Ms. Julie Forsberg Belleza have collaborated with the organization and after our event last June 2022, we have already helped more than 1000 children. Our fist charity project was in July 2022 giving school supplies, slippers and food packs to 300 children to one of the barangays in Cavite Philippines. It was followed in September 2022, giving of slippers, food packs and entertainment to uplift the spirit of the 750 children to one of the Barangays in Las Pinas, Manila, Philippines. Before the year ends, we have already scheduled a charity event. This time, our recipients are more than 400 children, where more than 90% belong to Katutubo or Native children. This project is a collaboration of my Grand Winner Ms. Belleza, the Goodwill Ambassador Queens, Mrs Universe Finland 2022 and our organization. I hope that in my role as Director, I can continue to inspire our candidates and queens to join the cause to make a difference and to multiply our effect in this world.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: Please tell us about your education. I attained my first Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the age of 19 and started working to help support my family. While working, I also studied for my Master in Political Science but was unable to finish it due to complications of schedules. When I came to the Netherlands in 2002, I studied again for another 5 years, earning my 2nd Bachelor’s degree and in 2007, I obtained my Master of Laws at University of Maastricht.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: What does women Empowerment mean to you? Women empowerment means to me to promote camaraderie, friendship and uplifting each other in the midst of adversity. Most women, especially the category I handle, encountered lots of difficulties in life such as juggling motherhood, career and personality development. As a Director, I always encourage all women that no matter what the outside appearance is, it should not be the basis for not letting themselves experience the fun of joining beauty pageants. Women should at least try to do something unusual in their life because this kind of event will only occur once in our lifetime.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: Tell us about your personal pageant history.
Pageants are very popular in the Philippines with many local competitions. I joined my first pageant at the age of 14 in a nearby village of my old hometown. Coming from a conservative family, joining was seen as exposition of too many physical attributes, thus unacceptable. I was not supported by my parents and usually being discouraged to join any of those events.
My first experience in organizing was when I was the Science Club President in High school, together with our Science teacher and its members, we organized a pageant where all dresses and costumes were made from old newspapers. It was organized to inspire creativity and uniqueness.
Though I did not receive support from my parents, I still participated in 2 different beauty contests held at the university during my studies. I trained myself on how to walk and prepared for the Q & A combined with training at the school campus. Unfortunately, there was little time left after work and study and hence, I discontinued joining pageants. It was only then in 2008 that I returned to my hobby as pageant enthusiast. My first pageant here in Europe was in Germany and won my first grand title. In total and until I retired in pageantry, I won 4 grand titles and 3 runner ups titles, all in Europe pageants. The most challenging was joining again after my two pregnancies because it is not just getting back in physical shape but also becoming confident again with your changed body. Starting 2019, I am more passionate about directing than joining beauty pageants. That is why, I have chosen now the path to direct and empower women to become better in the world of pageantry.
World Class Beauty Queens: What inspired you to do your first pageant? At the beginning of joining beauty pageants, my interest was solely for self-fulfillment. It gave me an adrenaline rush and it allowed me to release stress. When I’m on stage and did my performance, I felt energetic, positive and encouraged. Later on, I realized that joining beauty pageants offer more than just self-fulfillment.
My principle in joining beauty pageants became the “win or lose”. Therefore, the outcome was no longer important but it was to gain new friendships. The competitors became my sisters and together, we supported and helped each other to overcome fears on stage and achieve full confidence.
Moreover, I also wanted to help the organizations with their charity. When I joined, I usually invited friends to come with me as well and compete. It resulted in enjoyment and camaraderie. Together, we shared and celebrated our victory and defeat. It is fun to enjoy the moment because in reality, joining beauty pageants is a hobby. It doesn’t offer us significant financial benefits but it gives us inspiration and empowerment that results in positivity, good friendship, respect and camaraderie. Above all, we were able to help the organization realize their charity projects and I am proud to be part of it.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: Over the years what Country, state or city the competition took place and why? Since organizing our event, especially the Mrs Euro Philippines Universe, the competition always took place in the Netherlands. It is also because it is my home country and it is easier for me and my crew members to hold an event. Other titles I handle are usually, the delegates were directly appointed by me and it depends upon the title, if an event will occur in the future, we will be doing it as well in the country of the said title.
World Class Beauty Queens: Tell us what was special about each year’s competition. (Location, sponsors, audience, contestants and why). Every year we tried to make our event better and better. So we always try to select the best venue that will offer us professional lighting, music and a proper stage. During the 1st Edition of the Mrs Euro Philippines Universe, the event was held in Forum, an excellent location for this kind of event. It resulted in positive reviews and full capacity of visitors and guests. We also hired different personalities from X Factor, Voice of Holland and others. We made sure that guests won’t only enjoy the pageant but to have fun through dancing, drinking and networking. We also had a photobooth where people could take pictures. For our 2nd edition, our event was rescheduled several times and was finally pursued in June 2022, with restrictions from the pandemic. Since our previous location was not possible anymore, we changed to a new location at Music Dome, Kerkrade. The location is great since the hotel is located only at the back of the venue where candidates and guests can only walk for a few minutes.
With regards to sponsors, we have several regular sponsors and have been with us since the beginning. We also have new sponsors and collaborators. In terms of our audience, during our 1st edition, the venue was fully packed, but due to restrictions from the pandemic, we limited our audiences in the 2nd edition. As with candidates, they evolve over the years and they become better and better. Women who wanted to join really are well prepared physically, mentally and emotionally.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: What cultural significance has your pageant? Every title I handle has cultural significance. For Mrs Euro Philippines Universe for instance, candidates should be a Filipina or a Filipina by heart that are living in Europe. That is why we have Filipino traditional costumes as the highlight of our program. Candidates showcased their different costumes so that in this way, they can display the diversity of local culture and values of the Philippines.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: How long hours/days is the competition. Since the inception of my organization and directorship in 2019, we only have our actual event for Mrs Euro Philippines Universe. The competition only took 3 days in total but the competition was so tight and difficult. Our event is mostly properly organized where production numbers will be sent months before the pageant. Preparation like catwalk is also being prepared beforehand by the candidates. We have rehearsals before the event and the day of the event. So far, our every event is always successful and has gained attention and followers by many people around the world.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: Are contestants taken on any sightseeing during the competition? Because our event is only for 3 days, our agenda is so tight that there is no room for sightseeing. We have been doing this for only a short period of time since most of our candidates are working mothers and living in different countries in Europe.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: What are the competitors being judged on during the competition? Candidates on our 1st edition of the Mrs Euro Philippines Universe pageant were judged only during the actual show based on the following 5 criteria. Casual Wear, Swimwear, Traditional Costume, Evening Gown and Q & A for the top 5. Due to the negative circumstances we encountered during our 1st event, we decided to overhaul and evolve to stricter rules and regulations. Instead of candidates only being judged at the actual event, we decided to have a pre-judging criteria because the organization believes that pageantry is more than just a physical beauty but to be a combination of internal and physical beauty. That is why, we expanded the criteria in our 2nd edition to include character and charitable works. We are adding pre-judging criteria for the attitude, punctuality, personality and charitable activities. Casual wear competition is also being pre-judged during the dinner activity we held a night before the event. This is to observe candidates in their natural beauty with almost no makeup or with light make-up on. During the final show, candidates are judged through the following: Production number, Swimwear, Traditional costume, Evening Gown, Catwalk, Projection & Poise and the top 5 finalists had the Q & A. There were also other extra Queens that were being judged before the actual event and the winners were already determined beforehand. These are the following: Mrs Goodwill Ambassador Universe – for extra sponsorship if there were any and mostly the proceed will be used for extra charitable projects of the organization; Queen of Charity- the candidate with most charitable deeds in the past; Queen of Philanthropy-the candidate with most guests invited, as a form of appreciation for the efforts invested at the event.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: How do you select your judges and who are they? My principle in doing this pageantry is to be fair to all the candidates. “No Favoritism”. That is why, we selected the best and top notch juries and tabulators to judge and tabulate the results properly. Crew members and even me as Director are not allowed to associate or talk with the juries at the actual event. If a candidate has problems with the results, they are directed to the head jury and tabulators for explanation. Our juries are mostly beauty queens; owners of beauty pageant organizations and modelling companies; models; designers and professional people who have the caliber and experience to judge this kind of event. In this way, we can assure that candidates are being judged accordingly in a professional and fair manner.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: What kind of experience can contestants expect during the competition? The contestants for sure will gain friendship and camaraderie among others. As a Director, I always encourage all the candidates to enjoy the moment and have fun because this kind of event will only occur once in our lifetime. Most importantly, joining beauty pageants can boost and develop their personality into a better person.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: Do contestants have to support and volunteer for any cause or charity either before the competition or during their reign? I am a fanatic of a beauty queen with a good heart, that is why the organization added a category with a certain percentage for Charity deeds. This charity should be done in the past and not during or because a candidate is joining the pageant. This is to show that a certain candidate has already done charitable deeds even without joining any beauty pageants. Those who can show and present themselves that they have undergone charities will win as the Charity Queen. Aside from that, we have also an extra category but without points to vie on, the Mrs Goodwill Ambassador Universe. This is through the sponsorships they gathered or have submitted some amount to the organization. The organization has supported several charitable projects and the portion of income we gathered from this will be given to the charity of our own choosing. Further, I always encouraged my beauty queens to continue helping others because our good deeds won’t stop after the pageant but it will go beyond as their legacy.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: Does the system have sponsors? Yes, the system has sponsors. Some sponsors have been with the organization since the inception of our event. I am very grateful for their support because without them the event would not be possible. They help for the realization of our event into a successful one.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: Please tell us a little bit about each winner from over the years and what they accomplished throughout their reign. With Mrs Universe Germany, Mrs Universe Benelux, Mrs Universe Continental Europe, Mrs Universe Finland – since we don’t have events yet and all are directly appointed by me, their publicity is somewhat mellow. Some appeared in magazine interviews. But with regards to the Mrs Euro Philippines Universe where we have an event every year (only during pandemic have halted), their accomplishments are different due to high rate of our Page publicity. The 1st grand winner Ms. Catherine Valdez became the first Filipina who became somewhat a celebrity in Europe since after winning, her modelling career just skyrocketed and have received a lot of modelling gigs. She has been published and interviewed many times in different newspapers and talk shows. When she was sent to the Mrs Universe in China last 2019, she became a hit sensation in Europe and lots of women would like to follow in her footsteps. After Mrs Universe and even until now, she still appears in many modelling shows in which the recent highlight for her is landing in New York Time Square advertisement. As her Director, I am grateful that I became an instrument in her success.
The story of our 2nd grand winner of the Mrs Euro-Philippines Universe, Ms Julie Forsberg Belleza, is somewhat different. She is a Thai-Finnish but she grew up in the Philippines since almost 3 years old. So her values, character and heart depicts a real Filipina. She is a popular Youtube vlogger as Thai-Finnish Pero Pusong Pinay and after winning the title, she even gained more popularity. She also appears in several interviews and she will be competing in the Mrs Universe 2022 in Bulgaria. Her journey as international beauty Queen just started but I know for sure that she will succeed in every endeavor she will be taking because of her humility and kindness to everyone. I will always support her so that she can achieve all her dreams and that she can continue serving and helping others who are in need.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: What are some fun events you've done with your Queens? With regards to my appointed Queens, I have some fun with them during photoshoots where mostly I am present and helped them during the process. However, with regards to my Queens in the Mrs Euro Philippines Universe especially with Cathy, since her reign I really didn’t have the physical bonding with her due to pandemic and our busy schedules. But we communicated through phone calls and sometimes we could talk for hours. With Ms Jullie, after the event, me and some of my crew had some fun and laughter with her already. We bonded together while waiting for others to go home. Hopefully with work schedules, we will be able to spend some more time in the future and probably can talk many things about pageantry. For now, we constantly communicate due to her preparation for the Mrs Universe pageant in February 2023.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: What are your plans for your system in 2023?
As we schedule our 3rd edition of the Mrs Euro Philippines in 2023, we only added some value to our pageant system, especially the judging and scoring of charitable deeds where now it has become 5%. But mostly, it would be almost the same as the 2nd edition. The only thing is that since there are no restrictions anymore, we can hire more professional artists to perform in our event to add more value and fun to our guests and visitors.
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as the owner. “Character beyond Beauty”……. This is what legacy I would like to leave behind as a Director and owner of a Beauty Pageant organization. I would like to pursue that beauty pageant is not all about outside appearance and artificial body perfection but a combination of the physical and inner beauty of a woman. Women should embody and embrace themselves as who they are. That beauty pageants should emphasize the importance of character and the bases to give a platform for women to make a difference in this world.
Through my experience as Director, I saw first hand that in this kind of competition, it provides an atmosphere of high stakes fierce competition. Within this atmosphere, there is little room for creating harmonious relationships with friendship and camaraderie among the candidates. Other women see other women as their enemy and mostly it resulted in rivalry, mistrust, selfishness, non-acceptance and drama. In my view, pageantry should go back to its roots, with emphasis on the character and the natural beauty of a woman. The current trend of body perfection as pictured in online media has a negative impact on the self-esteem of the young generations. Feeling that they need to adhere to this view, they hide themselves behind heavy make-up or even go for plastic surgery to match the appearance to their role models. That is why, there should be cooperation between pageant organizations and the women of today’s generation to promote beauty pageants not only for the physical characteristics but also the inner beauty of a woman with regards to treating others with respect, kindness and humility. After all, beauty is subjective and therefore, we should embrace our physical imperfections and show the world the power of balance towards others. Because a Real Beauty queen is the epitome and embodiment of physical beauty, goodness, decency, respect, discipline, confidence, charisma, courage, kindness, humility, integrity, sportsmanship and love. It requires inner beauty to maximize the impact that you can make to this world.
Pageant website: FB page: Mrs Euro Philippines Universe, Mrs Universe Germany, Mrs Universe Benelux, Mrs Universe Continental Europe, Mrs Universe Finland.
Photographer: Marc Driessen
Make-up Artist: Amy S. Souren
Special Thanks to all our sponsors, professional artists, designers, collaborators, the undying support of our guests and visitors, my Beauty Queens, and most importantly my beloved crew members: Edroy Ligutom, Marc Driessen, Amy S. Souren, Barbara Laura Arnaiz, Mylene Ligutom, Naomi Quita, Ailyn Quita, Maryland Amparado and others who have helped in the 1st and 2nd edition of our event. World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to say thank you for this wonderful interview.
Helen Ligutom Director Mrs Euro Philippines Universe, World Class Beauty Queens Magazine, Interview by Derek Tokarzewski Owner/Editor in Chief Mr WorldClass 2023 Mr United Nations 2018 Platform: Women Empowerment Ambassador to International Foundation for Orphans iffocares.org
Miss WorldClass and WorldClass Ambassadors.