On the Suicide of Beauty Queen Viveka Babajee…

Beauty Queen Viveka Babajee in better days…

Dear Definitely Filipino friends:

A sad week in the world of beauty queens.

Hoping we all learn from Viveka Babajee and others who have taken their lives in an extreme moment of weakness. Thoughts of suicide seem to be a human frailty but thankfully, not all of us give in to such dark schemes.

In this post I share a bit about my own suicidal thoughts when I was a teenager…  I am hoping this post will remind readers that suicide should never be an option…



Remember that Manila Filmfest scandal in 1994 when Ruffa Gutierrez was erroneously announced as the Best Actress winner when it was supposed to be Aiko Melendez?

Well, Viveka Babajee, the Ms Universe contestant who made that erroneous announcement, was discovered last Friday, June 25, 2010, in her apartment in India hanging on a rope tied to her ceiling fan.

Viveka Babajee, who represented Mauritius in the Ms Universe 1994 (held in Manila) and in the Ms World 1993 beauty contests was reportedly depressed over her break-up with her boyfriend and her floundering business. Her friends say she took to alcohol for comfort. Viveka Babajee was only 37 years old when she took her life.

Now why would someone like Viveka Babajee who is so beautiful want to kill herself? Its a tough question to answer when one is not going through heartbreak and tough times. When I was a confused teen myself, I had entertained thoughts of suicide specially after fights with my Mom. They were one-sided fights actually, with Mom doing all the talking (and cursing) while I would sit down and take in all the painful words she said.

I was already a beauty queen at the time – Ms Young Philippines 1981. But I was under my Mom’s authority and she was the quintessential stage-mother whom I jokingly referred to as my personal bulldog. No cute male could come within 2 meters of my person when she was around. But she didn’t limit her anger to those cuties who tried to come close to me. She would unleash her rage, like a Signal # 4 typhoon, every time I made a mistake.

Combine the things she said with teenage confusion raging inside of me – it was a recipe for disaster. But, thankfully, I was born a happy kid and could never stay sad for long, even if I tried; every morning I would still wake up with hope that one day my relationship with Mom would change. Or that I would be brave enough to leave and live on my own, far far away from her mean words that would rip my soul apart.

Eventually, both things happened – I ran away from home and time healed our relationship over the following years. Today, although we still have our fights, I don’t let her mean words sink in too far because I have realized that she really doesn’t mean them. This became my formula for peace: when she is in her upset mode, I keep away until she cools off. Then I make her lambing (I get sweet on her) afterwards and we are back to being BFFs again. Bottom line for me – I love Mom no matter what she says.

Viveka Babajee on the catwalk…

Now the saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is not quite true. Words ARE exceedingly POWERFUL and able to destroy. Just ask any Pinoy journalist who writes for a living. After one of Mom’s infamous 2-hour sermons I would be left emotionally exhausted and filled with thoughts of suicide. Yes, even beauty queens can contemplate such things. I had the world at my feet then, but it meant nothing when my Mom made me feel like I was the most unwanted daughter on earth.

In recent years, we discovered that Mom had bipolar issues – something like an angel-devil cycle where she would spoil us one minute then devastate us with her anger the next. How I wish we knew about this bipolar thing in the 80s. It might have helped me understand Mom more.

So, going back to beauty queen Viveka Babajee, I believe her depression and eventual suicide was rooted in painful words spoken to her over the course of her life; terrible words that her soul could not let go of. Perhaps Viveka Babajee’s business and boyfriend troubles were the final straws holding her together.

You see, while words are powerful to destroy, they are also powerful to build and I can only surmise that in Viveka Babajee’s darkest hour, there were no words of hope and truth left in the recesses of her heart. And death was the only way out.

I can only surmise…

by joyce burton titular, the blogging beauty queen…

Beauty Queen and Model Viveka Babajee May 23, 1973 – June 25, 2010 Rest In Peace

Photos from: myasia.net, dnaindia.com and rediff.com