Last-minute rush as contestants prepare for grand finals tonight
The top 15 Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2018 finalists have been preparing non-stop for the much-awaited grand finale tonight.
The girls will be vying for the title at One Farrer Hotel, the local beauty pageant's official venue sponsor.
For Miss Sharin Keong, the final stretch leading up to the big day has been particularly exhausting.
The 26-year-old pre-school teacher told The New Paper: "It has been the busiest week for me because it coincides with my school's meet-the-parents session. I've been working till 6pm, then rushing to rehearsals from 7pm to 9pm every day."
The 15 finalists have been hard at work at rehearsals to improve their runway walk, pageant poses and so on.
Despite her hectic schedule, Miss Keong - who has also been a freelance model for the last eight years - has been helping her fellow finalists improve their walk.
Miss Keong won modelling competition The New Paper New Face in 2012 and was a contestant on reality TV modelling competition Supermodelme in 2014.
She said: "Women help women. I'm not afraid of anyone else outshining me. What's important is exuding confidence, and that's something that you can't attain overnight."
Miss Ischelle Koo, who started her first year as an undergraduate at the National University of Singapore two weeks ago, is experiencing "mixed feelings of excitement and reluctance for the MUS journey to end".
The 22-year-old said: "It has not been easy juggling many commitments. I shuttle between school, rehearsals and visiting my mother, who has just undergone major surgery.
"But through it all, I get home each day satisfied. I've been so inspired by all the girls. It's been a fun and meaningful journey thus far."
Miss Koo, who was crowned Miss Supranational Singapore 2016, added: "That was an entirely different experience and my very first time participating in a beauty pageant.
"For MUS, there is a lot more make-up, hair, catwalk and public speaking involved.
"But at the end of the day, both experiences have taught me to know who you are and what you stand for. These are the things you cannot simply cram in, in a short span of time."
Miss Jaslyn Tan, who won Miss Singapore Grand International in 2014 and came in second at Miss Teochew last year, is "feeling the pressure".
The 26-year-old realtor said: "All the finalists have been working really hard and when people know that I am not new to pageants, they will think it gets easier for me. But honestly, it's more pressure than before.
"People have expectations of me and I have higher expectations for myself too. I want to do better than what I have done before."
For Miss Loo May Tia and Miss Hilary Rupawalla, "working out and eating healthy" has been the guiding mantra in getting themselves pageant-ready.
Miss Loo, an 18-year-old student and former national rhythmic gymnast, said: "I've been working out non-stop since last Saturday. I'm also on a meal plan which consists of mainly chicken and fish. I like to make sure my food tastes as good as it looks so I've been experimenting with different variations of cooking and presentation."
The person helping her the most is her mother Angela Lee, the first runner-up in MUS 1994.
Miss Loo said: "She has always been there to support and encourage me together with family and friends. In the beginning, she gave me a brief introduction on what to expect in MUS. But since then, she just wanted to let me experience the MUS journey for myself."
Miss Rupawalla, a 26-year-old family lawyer, said she will continue with her active lifestyle after MUS ends.
She added: "Managing my full-time job and pageant prep of back-to-back photoshoots, rehearsals and working out has led to my social life taking a backseat the last two months.
"But with the grand finale happening tonight, I'm excited. This journey has been incredible. I've learnt so much about myself and the icing on the cake is getting to know the 14 other finalists."
This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.