Ms. Bukidnon Centennial Marah Smith’s crown taken back

Ms. Marah Luz Smith (center) poses with 1st runner up Ms. Talakag Jonafe T. Tubera (first to the right from center), 2nd runner up Ms. Libona Anna Grace R. Alturas (first to the left from center) 3rd runner up Ms. Manolo Fortich Jana Alexa J. Llacuna (second to the right from center) 4th runner up Ms. Malitbog Mary Joy A. Obsioma (second to the left from center) during the coronation night on August 17, 2014 at the Folk Arts Theater, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines  Bukidnon News photo courtesy of Alejandro Dano Jr. of PAIA-Bukidnon

Ms. Marah Luz Smith (center) poses with 1st runner up Ms. Talakag Jonafe T. Tubera (first to the right of Smith),
2nd runner up Ms. Libona Anna Grace R. Alturas (first to the left of Smith)
3rd runner up Ms. Manolo Fortich Jana Alexa J. Llacuna (second to the right from center)
4th runner up Ms. Malitbog Mary Joy A. Obsioma (second to the left from center) during the coronation night on August 17, 2014 at the Folk Arts Theater, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines
Bukidnon News photo courtesy of Alejandro Dano Jr. of PAIA-Bukidnon

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News.Net/31 August) The provincial governor have been reported to have taken back the crown from Laga ta Bukidnon 2014 winner Ms. Marah Luz Smith of Malaybalay City because she is allegedly an American citizen – drawing an outburst in the social media.

Honolu Cruzin, Malaybalay City tourism officer confirmed to Bukidnon News.Net late Saturday that Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. took back the crown from Smith because the 17-year old black beauty was born in the United States.

“Yes it’s true. It was verbally stated that they have to take it (title) away due to the fact that she is an American,” Smith’s mother, Neneng Mozar, said in a text message Saturday. She said the title was taken back as of noon of Aug. 29 (Friday) in a meeting with the governor at a local hotel.

Mozar denied that Smith, a Psychology student at the Central Mindanao University, is an American.
“She is Pinay (Filipina) because I am Pinay (Filipina),” she added.

Mozar said their lawyer is waiting for a written statement of the decision.
She said her daughter is “totally devastated” and she herself is “so distraught” (about the situation).

“But I have to be strong for my daughter,” she added.
“My mom, my family and friends will never leave me, even when everyone is against me… I love you,” Smith posted in her Facebook wall Saturday afternoon.

Cruzin cited but mentioned no details that there was a complaint that preceded the governor’s decision. The governor is yet to be reached for comments as other provincial officials refuse to comment on the issue as of Sunday morning. Joanne Bayona, provincial tourism officer declined to comment but confirmed the governor spoke with Smith’s family.

Cruzin stressed that before Smith joined the contest, they have sought legal counsel on the citizenship issue. She added that Smith lived with her mother in the Philippines since she was three years old.
“She, being with her mom here makes her a Filipina until she is 18 years old when she can choose her citizenship,” she added in an SMS in response to a query by this reporter. The same query was sent Saturday night to the governor and Bayona.
Smith will turn 18 on Sept. 27, 2014.

Smith won over 20 other bets from Bukidnon’s 19 towns and two cities in the pageant night on August 17. The Municipality of Impasug-ong, in-charge of the 2014 pageant, fielded no candidate. She also won “Best in Gown,” “Best in Swimwear,” and “Ms. Regata Tours.”
Just last week, the Malaybalay City council passed a resolution commending Smith for her victory.

Cruzin said the council will take the matter again in their next session.
Mayor Anthony Uy of the Municipality of Impasug-ong, which was behind the committee that held the pageant, told MindaNews via telephone he is yet to get a definite report on the issue.
He added that so far he was told that Smith qualified to be among the candidates in the pageant during the screening.
Comments hit the news feeds of Facebook citizens on the issue.
“Is this how lousy the screening committee is, that she reached this far before being disqualified?” “ARL” said in his comment.
He clarified that he is not against or for the (provincial) administration but stressed “all I want is impartiality.”
Another FB post compared Smith’s case to that of Venus Raj, who also faced and prevailed over a citizenship issue against her at the Binibining Pilipinas pageant before landing as a runner up in the Miss Universe competition in 2011.
“This is foul. Is this discrimination again?” another FB member opined.

In another thread, an FB citizen posted that there has to be a credible explanation behind the disqualification at this stage.

“Why do they have to do this and humiliate a young lady who “did her best” and “deserved” the crown? (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News.Net)