Meaghan Penning, with father Shawn and brother  Shawn II.
Meaghan Penning, with father Shawn and brother Shawn II.

[box type=”default” size=”large”] ‘True beauty is being exactly who you are, and not being afraid of that’ [/box]

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] What is the title of the song you sang in the talent portion and who originally sang it? [/box]“Only Hope,” performed by Mandy Moore, is from the movie, “A Walk to Remember” (based on the book by Nicholas Sparks). This is one of my favorite books and movies because it illustrates how truly precious life is. However, what many don’t know is that this song was originally written and performed by the famous Christian Rock band, Switchfoot, in the late 90s. 

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] During the interview portion, you were asked, “What constitutes beauty?” Please answer the question again for the benefit of our Filipino Star News readers. [/box]To me, true beauty is to be yourself. It’s not trying to aspire for an ideal society puts on you or an ideal that you might have gotten from your peers, but just being exactly who you are, and not being afraid of that.

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] Candidate Danielle Purtell won three special awards, and you did not win any. Before your name was called as one of the two finalists, did it ever cross your mind that you are not going to win? [/box]When we were given the pageant rules, we also received the judging criteria. Each category — swimsuit, talent, evening gown, and interview — was worth 15 points each (a total of 60) out of 100. The remaining 40 points are for one category: Beauty/Poise/Personality. Miss Photogenic and Miss Philanthropic scores did not count in the candidates’ overall scores. This meant that winning all four categories would not be enough to win if the scores were close enough because these constitute only 60 percent of the total score. However, when I was on that stage waiting for the results, I wasn’t thinking about winning or not winning, I was simply enjoying being on a stage with my beautiful, talented, and smart friends as 100 plus people cheered for us.

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] How surprised were you when you were proclaimed the winner of the Miss Philippines of Michigan title? Describe your feeling upon hearing you are the winner. [/box]Upon hearing that I was the winner, I was so happy. Not only because the judges gave me high scores, but also the crowd, representative of our Filipino community, affirmed the choice. My mind was (and still is) spinning with excitement over the future two years (of my term). I am ecstatic to serve and represent my community in every way I can.

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] Do you think your winning the title will somehow change your life’s direction? [/box]In the past summer alone, I have learned so much more about my Filipino heritage and met so many community members I now consider family. Going forward, I think it will be a continuation of this on a grander scale.

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] Describe your first day as Miss Philippines of Michigan? How many calls, text messages and Facebook posts congratulating you did you receive on the first day? [/box]My first day as Miss Philippines of Michigan was unbelievable. So many pictures and congratulations were posted on Facebook that I’m still worried I’ve missed a “thank you” or Facebook “like” even though I’ve literally been tied to my phone all day! The one time I tried to entirely stay off my phone was the incredible two hours I spent at the Filipino-American Fellowship at the Salvation Army building in Southfield. I attended this event last month when I was invited by the organizers, Major Romeo Alip and his wife, Major Evelyn. I had such a great time singing and listening to their expressions of religious faith that I was excited to attend a second time. At the first Fellowship I attended, everyone was so supportive of the pageant and my campaign, and several bought tickets. Many of those in attendance were Kiwanis members, and they invited me to attend the next meeting. This leads to my Kiwanis of Cosmopolitan Detroit co-sponsorship. It was wonderful hearing their congrats and support at the second fellowship.

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] Do you have a boyfriend? If you have, how did he react to your winning the title? [/box]I did bring a date, a very close guy friend of mine to the pageant. I could not have imagined a better date! Every time I walked on stage or even posed, I could see him smiling and starting the applause. We drove down together, and he was content to stand by for the hour and a half of picture taking, precluding the pageant (still with a big grin on his face). After all of my sponsors, organizers and family got to organize me, he was able to come up and congratulate me, prompting official pageant photographs of the two of us (by the amazing event photographer, Alfer Rulona). Then, he carried all my ENORMOUS gowns, pulled the car up, and, of course, got out to open the car door for me. Is he my boyfriend? No comment. I say that he was a perfect gentleman and I couldn’t have picked a more adequate date.

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] You are still a student at least until December. You will be very busy in the next four months. How will you divide your time so that you can do all your responsibilities? [/box]Yes, I have always had a busy school schedule. Even while the pageant campaigning was taking place, I was taking 10 accelerated credits. Aside from my school work, I am the lead singer of a classic rock band and work a part-time internship. My schedule can get very busy sometimes, which is why I have developed a strict scheduling technique with which I make sure to put every single event in my life in a calendar. The events are subdivided based on whether they are work, school, or otherwise related. Staying organized will be the key to giving ample time to all my responsibilities.

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] You are attending Northwood University. Where is it located?  [/box]Northwood University is a private college in Midland, Michigan that emphasizes personal responsibility, private property, and high moral standards.

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] Where do you live? [/box]I live in Bay City, Michigan (about 20 minutes east of Midland). I have a small studio apartment I rent myself in a historical building. I reside in the top tower window. I chose to live in Bay City because I love the atmosphere and downtown area (the coffee shops are awesome).

[box type=”default” size=”medium”] Do you have siblings? [/box]I have one younger brother named Shawn M. Penning. He is an incredibly talented pianist/vocalist and also very intelligent. You can see him as the lead role in local and school plays (he attends a Catholic private high school in Saginaw, the city where my mom was raised and where my family moved several years ago. I brag about him constantly and think he is the greatest. But don’t tell him that! I also have a cousin who is like a younger sister to me. Her name is Sophia, and she is 12 years old (future Miss Philippines 2018?). She is also a talented pianist/vocalist and very intelligent. She is in the math/science concentration at her middle school also in Saginaw.