IT is never easy venturing far away from one’s home state to compete in unfamiliar surroundings, let alone triumph over local favourites.
But 20-year-old Sabah model Julylen Liew Ei Ling took it all in her stride and emerged with the Miss Malaysia Tourism Queen International 2010 crown.
In the national grand finals held at Berjaya Penang Hotel in George Town on Sunday night, Liew, who aspires to be a professional entertainer, was a picture of confidence and poise as she strutted the catwalk in traditional attire, trendy wear, swim wear and evening wear.
During the Q&A session, she eloquently espoused the virtues of her home state’s homestay programme.
“The locals warmly welcome you into their homes to share their lifestyles and culture. One can learn the proper ways to prepare their traditional food, and make you feel at home,” said Liew.
A former state model search runner-up who frequently did photo shoots, it was her first attempt at a national pageant, one that paid off big time.
“When I was schooling, I lacked confidence and always felt inferior compared to others. And to overcome that, I told myself I had to venture out on stage in front of large audiences and face them.
“Now, I can present myself well.”
Liew will go on to represent the country in the international finals in Guangzhou, China, in September, and will use the opportunity to promote her homeland.
“People there would like to know more about Malaysia, and I shall tell them all about our tourism industry, delicious food, places of interest and the magnificent experience that awaits visitors,” she added.
Emerging second was local favourite Karen Toh Soo Ling, a 21-year-old mortgage sales executive. She praised Liew as a worthy winner and was content with the runner-up spot.
“When I first started out, I knew nothing. But I took a lot of part-time modeling jobs to overcome my nervousness, and gained a lot of experience in the process,” Toh said of her first podium finish in a national pageant, adding to an already impressive list of regional titles prior to this.
Another Penangite, 22-year-old Yen Wai Yee, a part-time model who helps run a family business, was elated with her third-placed finish. Throughout the contest, she told herself to relax and not worry too much about the result.
“Compared to other pageants I’ve joined previously, this one was tough. We had to go from place to place from morning till night, and would only get around five to six hours sleep each day,” Yen said.
A day earlier, Toh walked away with the Miss Marigold Body Beautiful 2010 subsidiary title in an equally spectacular pageant held at Gurney Plaza’s New Wing Atrium.
Coincidentally, Toh cited milk as her secret to maintaining a good figure, after impressing judges with her curves while parading in fitness wear and evening wear.
“I drink fresh milk every night. Without it, I would feel like something is missing and have a hard time sleeping.”
Scores of shoppers present to witness the event were also treated to a short belly dance performance by the pageant’s Best Talent Award 2010 winner, 26-year-old beautician Jeslyn Loh of Selangor.
A total of 14 hopefuls contested the pageant.