Beauty queen as community worker

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Venus Raj, fourth runnerup in the Miss Universe pageant in 2010, went back to school last year.


She is taking up a master’s degree in Community Development in UP Diliman. “I’m almost done with the second semester (this month). I have two more years to go,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Before becoming a beauty queen, she graduated cum laude with a degree in Journalism from Bicol University in Albay.

After breaking up with TV host Andrei Felix, Venus said she kept herself busy with her studies—to keep her mind off the heartbreak.

“I am very happy with my life,” she remarked. “I’m single. I am open to dating. But I am not in a rush.”

She denied rumors that she’s seeing a politician and pointed out that she’d rather go steady with a noncelebrity - so that “the relationship would be more peaceful.”

Going back to school had always been her dream, she said.

“I chose Community Development because I want to help my province mates someday,” she related. “My goal is to put up a foundation for the youth - with special focus on education.”

Coming from a small town (Bato, Camarines Sur), she said, made her painfully aware of the struggles of common folk.

“I’m the product of a foundation, too,” she owned up. “I was a scholar of the Francis Padua Papica Foundation. That’s why I want to put up a scholarship fund to send young people to school.”

Beyond the glamour of show biz, she sees herself moving back to Bicol and becoming a mentor to kids.

“I’d like to teach also,” she explained. “Aside from being a beauty queen, I know that being a teacher is something I can be proud of…I want education to be my legacy…it’s something substantial that I can leave behind to my future grandchildren.”

She has returned to television, meanwhile, cohosting a travel show, “Business Flight,” with businesswoman Cristina Decena. (“Business Flight” premiered March 23 on GMA News TV.)

Doing the show has been a great learning experience so far, Venus noted. She and Cristina recently traveled to Japan, to interview Filipinos who have established their own successful businesses there.

“Their stories are inspiring,” Venus said.

She singles out Babylyn “Mama Kei” Fetalvero - who started a carinderia that became a thriving restaurant venture in Nagoya, Japan.

“She went through a lot of hardships, but never gave up,” Venus said of Mama Kei. “I see myself in their stories. I experienced the same obstacles. Working on this show has made me realize that we may have different situations in life, but our dreams are all the same.”

Venus looks up to her cohost, who not only built a business empire on her own, but also survived two tumultuous show biz affairs and an assassination attempt last year.


“In the short time that I’ve known her, I’ve observed that when she commits to something, she buckles down to work and never rests until everything is done excellently,” Venus said of Cristina. “She truly values her work, her goals. She also motivates her team to accomplish any given task. She encourages convergence of the best ideas. She never dictates or micro-manages. She looks out for the whole team.”