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Congratulations to Inday Sita, a bosom friend some twenty-three years ago, on being crowned as Pacific Queen 2014 at the Pacific Mall in Mandaue City on June 21, 2014.

Inday Sita made history by being the first-ever winner in what we hope to be an annual pageant for Cebu’s most exceptional transgenders. During the nerve-racking Q&A challenge faced by the top three finalists, host Jix Javate asked each for her comment on what some religious people are saying that “gays cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I was greatly impressed with Inday Sita’s direct-to-the-point answer: “It’s not a matter of whether you are straight or gay, or whichever sexual preference or sexual orientation you have, for as long as you are happy and peaceful and you know that, in one way or another, you contributed to the happiness of others and did your share in spreading peace, then you can definitely enter Heaven. What matters is that you have faith in God and you are trying to live your life to the fullest according to His will, then you are welcome in Heaven.”

But who would’ve thought that what was my very handsome buddy named Allen Sian during my first semester at the University of San Carlos had metamorphosed into what I almost mistook for Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler as I peeped in the dressing room. That was the first time, after more than twenty years, we talked to each other again, since the day I heard that he already lived in Japan—and I dropped out of USC, became an OSY (out-of-school-youth) for eight years, followed my dream to study Journalism in UV (University of the Visayas), forayed into beauty culture, yadda yadda yadda. An avid follower of the annual Queen of Cebu pageant for alternatives, it was only one year later, in 2012, when I learned that the previous year’s Miss Japan and second runner-up who brought the house down with her self-introductory spiel was he, Allen Sian.

To cut the story short, we touched base on Facebook and sometimes via SMS, and even bumped into each other and had our photos taken together at Queen—but because everyone’s usually busy rubbing elbows onstage, we never got a chance to catch up. . . . So to my long-lost friend Inday Sita, thanks for staying amiable and down-to-earth. You have no idea how happy I am to have hugged you again and how proud I am of you for what you are, a beautiful person inside and out.