The Mr. and Ms. VSU pageant is a major highlight in this year’s activities for the university’s 99th founding anniversary. Amid having eight pairs from across all five satellite campuses and colleges of the VSU system competing in the momentous comeback of the university’s most coveted crowns, comes the imminent buzz with pricing of tickets that sparked controversy among the Viscan community early last week.
For context, the university announced the previous ticket prices on April 17 (read here: https://bit.ly/3KUzVyW), with separate ticket prices of 100 pesos for the Talent Showdown and the Preliminary Round; a range from 100-500 pesos for the Coronation night; and a package of 399 pesos for the three events via Zoom.
With just a few days before the coronation night, we sought out to hear what Viscans truly feel about the pageant’s ticketing system. Here’s what they had to say:
Florence, a 2nd year ABELS student, noted that students who are on a tight budget may be hindered towards supporting the event.
“There is an impact towards the participation of the students in the said event. We initially assumed that the pageant was free and that it was open for all students and alumni to watch. Hence, this pay-per-view and 100-peso entry level pay is quite discouraging. Some students would love to watch the pageant for sure, but they just cannot afford it due to budget constraints.”
Jayvie Villa, from the College of Nursing, is hopeful to see improvements with the ticket costs to accommodate Viscans who wants to watch the show.
“I believe it’s unfair, especially for the freshmen, sophomores, and even seniors who, due to the pandemic, were unable to enjoy and feel the VSU anniversary. This is especially true considering that the pageant is the most anticipated event, and not all students can afford the tickets. Moreover, I am in favor of the pay-per-view, but I am also aware that they may still adjust the ticket costs or even provide students with a discount because that is the event's main goal for the anniversary – to showcase what VSU has to offer.”
Having been exposed to the world of pageant production, Jam Juntilla calls to the organizers to reconsider the steep rates of the tickets.
“I've organized pageants before while simultaneously working as a make-up artist. Entrance fees for these events are naturally pricey in order to recover the cost of organizing one. But considering that most of its audiences are students, the organizing team should consider that a hundred-peso ticket is already detrimental for most of the students.”
DVM student Giana Acosta exclaimed the unfairness of buying a ticket whilst paying a contribution fee in support of their candidates, calling it “not student-friendly”.
“I support the pageant especially now that we are able to experience this again after the pandemic. This serves as a breather for us students who just finished our exams, but they should also realize that we are still living off on our allowances. It's not fair that we paid contributions to support our candidates; we are very much willing to watch the pageant but will not be able to do so because the ticket prices are not student-friendly.”
Caught between prioritizing its availability to the students and what the university opts to gain from the event, Third-year DevCom student Juriel is quite mixed with the situation at hand.
“I guess they should just make it available and free for everyone since it’s only going to be held here in the university and I believe that the event was also made for the enjoyment of the students. Though it is also understandable since the cost of the pageant must be reimbursed back to the school so that we won’t go bankrupt.”
A Viscan alumnus who wanted to be anonymously called as Capt. AMV, compared the experience of the Mr. and Ms. VSU pageant during their time to now.
“One of the highlights (of the anniversary) was the Mr. and Ms. VSU competition, where all the departments would gather to cheer for their candidates. There was no entrance fee, we only needed to sign the attendance sheet. The event was a stress reliever and a great help for the students to relax after the exams. Although the entry-level price of one ticket is already affordable for me, I understand that there are students who are on a tight budget since their allowance is only enough to cover a week’s expenses. So, it is more practical for them to spend their money on their needs.”
Freshman nursing student Louren also shared her dismay with the ticket prices, especially since they wanted to give their all-out support to their candidates.
“Prior to the ticketing, we already agreed that we would give our full support to our representative from the College of Nursing but because of the prices, we can’t assure that anymore. We also invited support from outsiders but we do not know if they will allow them to participate in it, and if it is already expensive for the students, what more when it comes to those who do not attend the university? The prices would have been greatly justified if they had invited celebrities or special guests like what other universities did— and even with that, they had them free for the students anyway.”
‘Ridiculously expensive’ is how Zyra Carbonilla described the ticket prices, stating that it may encourage students to skip the entire pageant completely.
“It's ridiculously expensive. I doubt students are going to prioritize this pageant over their other expenses. A lot of students are struggling already, as it is, to make ends meet with the little allowance they have. Students are definitely going to be more inclined to just skip this whole show altogether as it's not all that necessary. It's not worth it and no, I’m not supporting it.
Fritzie Mae reminisced how the pageant was initially ‘free’ for all to watch before the pandemic started.
“The VSU Anniversary was much more festive before the pandemic – from booths to unending fun events in the lower and upper ovals. As for the pageant, free entrance was applied, unlike now where we have to pay for both physical and pay-per-view options. Also, in the audition process, they were welcoming and not strict at all, thus giving everyone a chance to participate, join, and showcase their full potential in the pageant.”
Students from satellite campuses of VSU also shared their views regarding the ticket prices and how it could affect their school’s support towards their representatives in the upcoming competition.
“I don’t like the idea of the ticketing, especially since we would really love to watch our candidates and give them our full support; but we cannot make due with these rates. It would be better if they just made it free to watch online.”, expressed by BEED student Judith Belsa, from VSU-Isabel.
On the other hand, Carlos Miguel Resoso, a BSIT-I student from the same campus, noted that even with the said prices, Viscans from Isabel would still willingly support their candidates.
“These prices are low enough to the point that a student can buy one ticket to watch one event of the pageant. If they want to complete the whole three-day competition, it is already a steal to pay 199 pesos for it. As to what I have observed from my schoolmates, they will definitely show their support for our candidates regardless of the prices because we care more so about the representation than winning or losing”.
Finally, Shaina Mae Lacaba, a student leader from VSU-Tolosa, ultimately stressed out the importance of why such rates need to occur in the first place and commended the administration for pursuing action towards the complaints.
“Considering the population of the university, these prices may not be accessible to all, especially to most of our students who are struggling financially. This amount of money can be a week’s worth of allowance for some. However, I also understand, as an officer, the need to have a ticket and its prices to be quite reasonable for the finances needed to organize such an event. I also appreciate the administration for adjusting the prices. It's just that, in my own perspective, it could have been lesser than the fixed price for the students.”
A collective consensus with regards to this issue is quite impossible at this point; some say the tickets are way too expensive, some believe that it's fairly priced, while others are caught in-between prioritizing the student’s enjoyment and the university’s cost of production. As polarizing as this entire pageant ticketing system has been, we can all agree that the candidates need our utmost support, and being in physical attendance during the pageant night is just one way of showing it. There are many simple ways of campaigning for our respective bets in the pageant, and as simple as reacting and sharing their content from the VSU Official Facebook page would be a boost to their chances of winning.
As of this writing, the ticket prices have already been adjusted, it’s now only up to us if we want to avail to watch the show in-person or via livestream. And those who have made up their minds of not attending the show, will only have to cheer in spirit for the next winners of Mr. and Ms. VSU pageant.
[Editor's Note: This article contains opinions from students gathered after the announcement of the ticket prices three days ago, April 17, and before the posting of the adjusted ticket prices midnight of April 20.]