MANILA — It was in November 2019 when she spiraled into “self-pitying depression,” following a disappointing showing at an international pageant that led to her giving up her Binibining Pilipinas Grand International title.
But this Saturday, nearly a year on, it is difficult to spot any traces of that dark episode in Samantha Ashley Lo’s life, as she featured in the annual Century Tuna Superbods competition —completing her amazing turnaround by winning it.
Lo, 27, was named the female grand winner in a pre-recorded finals streamed online on Facebook, alongside male grand winner Sam Ajdani, also an ex-pageant titlist.
They emerged from a pool of more than 20 finalists to each win P500,000, along with other prizes and perks, such as gym memberships and a year’s supply of food and health products.
During the Q&A, Lo was asked about whether she viewed social media as a positive or a negative thing for today’s youth with regards to body image.
Her answer had her open up about the bashing she received. “I was always told that something was always wrong with me,” she said. She also told young people to love their bodies, advising them to “be patient with yourself” and “to embrace every flaw that you have.”
Lo had to deal with criticisms after her Miss Grand International journey last year, marred by travel issues and allegations of wrongdoing. She finished outside the pageant’s top 20.
Last month, she opened up about the rollercoaster of emotions she felt during that time, revealing that she went into depression because of it.
Her dedication to pick herself back up following that episode led to her joining the Superbods contest.
This year’s Superbods initially had a theme revolving around how everyone can have a "superbod" through proper diet and exercise. Organizers then shifted it to promoting a "stay strong" message amid this COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of physical well-being and mental health.
The finals, prerecorded and had the contestants follow the health protocols against the coronavirus, was streamed on Facebook.
It featured a judging panel that included Alice Dixson, Isabelle Daza, and Southeast Asia Games gold medalist Nikko Huelgas, among others.
The female first runner-up was 31-year-old Candice Ramos, while the male first runner-up was Erie Matic, 41.
The other names in the top 16 were:
Grace del Rosario (35)
Liz Kuczera (23)
Zai Ebido (30)
Christine Picardal (27)
Key Trajano (25)
Samantha Purvor (33)
Jason Senga (39)
Nelson Banzuela (29)
Enzo Bonoan (26)
Philippe Magalona (33)
Jojo Urquico (57)
Albert Lorenzo (31)
You can watch the finals in the video below: