The Grapes Of Wrath Make A Sour Wine In Beauty Pageant Industry
Last night we told you about the five piece article penned by Tony Rath - who is Miss Belize, Rebecca Rath's father. Rath who is a celebrated photographer had some sharp criticisms for the Pageant Director Opal Enriquez. He accused her of being manipulative, not living up to financial commitments, and undermining Rebecca Rath at the Miss Universe Pageant in the Philippines. But he had praise for Sherima Guity - herself a former Stann Creek Beauty Queen who got Rebecca to run for Ms. Belize, and provided her pageant training. Rath praised Guity for her hard, committed work with Rebecca. But today, in. a Facebook post, Guity had no praise for him. She says his article is quote, "degrading and very disappointing, and that she, quote, "refuses to be associated with the tarnishing of anyone's career." That's a reference to Opal Enriquez who Rath described as, quote, "appalling, narcissistic and bizarre". But, Guity says quote, "Together as a country, we should say "thank you" to Opal Enriquez." Guity notes that Rebecca and Opal clashed from the beginning of her journey to become Miss Belize and adds, quote, "her mother and father did NOT make it any easier." She later describes the couple as "pig-headed". Guity makes a number of criticisms of the Rath's and concludes, quote, "I feel that our Belizean public has been manipulated by Rebecca and her family."
Miss Belize Universe and Tony Rath’s Controversial Exposé
Miss Universe 2016, held in Manila, Philippines at the end of January, is now several months behind avid fans of pageantry. The stellar performance of Miss Belize Universe, Rebecca Rath, galvanized Belizeans all over, despite failing to place in the top thirteen contestants. But tonight, there is controversy brewing in the aftermath of a five-part article written her father, photojournalist Tony Rath, which has been shared on Facebook. The article, titled “The Rocky Road to Miss Universe”, documents the family’s journey from Dangriga to Manila, as well as the often tumultuous relationship they purportedly experienced with the pageant’s country director. Rath does a remarkable job of chronicling each step of that journey; however, there are points in between during which he throws local organizer Opal Enriquez under the bus. She is shaded for what can only be described as incompetence in fulfilling her obligation to the contestant and the pageant. That article has picked up considerable steam in the realm of social media and continues to be the buzz around the water cooler. Earlier today, we spoke with Therese Rath who stands firmly behind her husband’s decision to publish the story of Rebecca’s pursuit of the coveted title.
On the phone: Therese Rath, Mother of Rebecca Rath
“Tony’s work, job, career is to photograph and document. He’s taken up many issues, they’ve tend to be conservation or, you know, the Chiquibul. I guess he’s well known for the Chiquibul issue. This was something that encompassed our lives for six months and it had a great impact on us and so Tony documented with our full support.”
“In the article there are points in which Tony borders maligning Opal Enriquez, based on either the professional and other claims that don’t necessarily appear to be substantiated. Do you stand behind the claims that are being made based on your experiences having dealt with Ms. Enriquez?”
“Actually I absolutely do. You know, I think that a lot of people are not familiar with the process for these international pageants and how they actually work. These are private sector driven, with contracts that clearly stipulate what the licensee is supposed to fulfill and it is a license that you have to apply for and are granted and in many cases, this one in particular, you have to pay for. The fees are not small, they are manageable but they are not small. In this case I believe the Miss Universe contest, the competition is in the vicinity of seventy-five hundred U.S. dollars. My daughter participated in a contest, Miss Belize. There were specific prizes that were mentioned at the contest, in public, on Channel Five and there is a contract that she was obligated to sign as a contestant for Miss Universe. I am not in the pageant community but I am in business and so the first thing I did was read the contract and ensure through our own legal advice and to ensure that whatever Rebecca signed we are able to fulfill. Now there is also a contract that the licensee had that specifically says what they were supposed to do. The public presentation in the country of Belize is that it was Queen of the Jewel Miss Universe, Queen of the Jewel Miss Belize. All, everything they’re talking about is Queen of the Jewel. The company that is incorporated in this country, the principals of whom are Reynaldo Malic, OJ Elrington and Opal Enriquez. So the general impression, if you look in the media, is that those people or that committee, as people keep referring to it, are people who are responsible for the Miss Belize Universe. That is incorrect. The license for Miss Belize Universe says nothing about Queen of the Jewel. It is granted specifically to Opal Enriquez and it specifically says that Opal Enriquez is the country director and that she has to ensure that those obligations that are clearly stipulated are met.”
Therese Rath Stands By Her Husband’s Blog
According to the husband and wife couple, they were largely responsible for the organization of Rebecca’s trip to Miss Universe, minus Enriquez’s input as country director. Furthermore, the family claims that Rebecca still has not received a majority of the prizes she won last year during the Miss Belize pageant. On the other end of those assertions, however, is a response by Rebecca’s previous trainer. Sherima Guity, who is credited with encouraging Rebecca to pursue the Miss Belize title, has written an article in response to Rath’s claims. Guity’s position, in many ways, supports Opal Enriquez’s effort, having worked to reinstitute Belize in the pageant after a lengthy suspension. Rath, however, does not share the same view.
On the phone: Therese Rath, Mother of Rebecca Rath
“We did not have the faintest idea that we were going to have to be the ones that fulfilled those obligations. Rebecca has not received the majority of the prizes from Miss Belize. When we asked Opal there is absolutely no response. She has received some of them, like from Cellular World and stuff like that. She didn’t receive all but you know the twenty-five thousand dollar scholarship that she talked about in the article, none of that and there is no response. You know, she didn’t do it for those prizes but she was the contestant to go to Miss Universe so we paid no attention or very little attention to those prizes in the process of getting to Miss Universe. It’s a completely, completely different story when you have a specific wardrobe, you have to travel halfway around the world and there is no mechanism whatsoever, set up to get you there. None. I am a manager by profession so I tried my very best to say well what is the plan? Tell us what is the plan. We’ll fill in, we’ll help, we’ll work with you. There was no plan, none whatsoever.”
“How do you respond to another article that has been posted in the wake of Tony’s blog, where this individual is, one: distancing herself from what has been written and, in her own view, shedding light on another side to this story? How do you respond to some of the claims made on her end?”
“I’ve had nothing but a positive experience with working with Sherima. She was the one who convinced Rebecca to go to or to go up for Miss Belize and to the best of my knowledge we had a good working relationship with her.”
“What is the message in all of this for any young lady who would be interested in pageantry and in becoming the next Miss Belize?”
“Well you know Isani, I have to tell you that in spite of all this I was totally blown away by the level of maturity, professionalism and the wonderful women that we met who participated in pageantry. Like many women in the professional field, you tend to think that pageantry is not, you know, may not be the best use of a woman’s talents. To tell you the truth I have completely changed my mind. I believe that pageantry is an excellent way for young women to gain the experience that is needed in the fashion world and in media.”
News Five attempted to reach Enriquez by phone but we were informed that she is not responding to the article. Instead, we are told that she has been advised to explore her legal options against the author and his family.
Miss Belize: the Rebecca Response
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, Sher and I respect your right to yours.
I reached out to you multiple times and I always expressed how thankful I was to you. After I won Miss Belize, my life quickly spiraled and got busier and you of all people should know that that is how it goes. Being new and "green" to pageantry, I didn't realize it but I continued..I thought we had formed a bond and when I realized that you never reached out to me either I was sad about that too. I always took your advice and never felt like I knew it all. Not once have I ever thought I am better than anyone nor have I let any "fame" go to my head but I don't need a Facebook post for people to see that. I work hard, I am fair and I know what it is I believe in. My experience with Opal was not good and I saw how badly she treated the other girls. She did not do even the basics of what she was supposed to do to get to Miss Universe. If it was not for my family and the Belizean public we would never have made it to Manila...
Miss Belize: former Queen Responds to Opal
By Tanisha Vernon
Wolf in Sheep Clothing vs The Controversial Miss Belize Universe 07-08.
Approximately 10 years ago I had participated in the Miss Belize Pageant. I remembered the series of events that occurred like it was yesterday. Before I venture into all the mishaps and adversities. Let me briefly introduce myself, I am 29yrs Tanisha Vernon, the last Miss Belize Universe to be crowned at the former Belize Civic Center by Maria Jeffries, who had recently crowned Rebecca Rath. Confusing right? Yes, Opal Enriquez and her team had intentionally omitted my title and reign for her own selfish reasons. Prior to the pageant they had the audacity to ask for my mentorship and sponsorship that I humbly denied for many reasons. At no point their organization members had offered an invitation to me so that I can passed on the crown to Ms Rebbeca Rath.
Miss Belize: the response to Tony Rath
I am not a photographer, not a journalist, nor a lawyer, but I am simply a person who has a heart just as anyone else. Perhaps we will never know all sides. And whilst you the reader will form your own opinion, allow me to assist you in developing your view on the matter, as I merely share my experiences with Rebecca Rath and her family.
In the world of pageantry, all is never the way it really seems.
I, Sherima Guity can remember convincing Rebecca to enter the Miss Belize pageant, which was clearly not on her bucket list. However, her ‘green’ state to pageantry only challenged my abilities because I trusted my passion for pageantry and was confident that once I had the support of my family, It would have been easier to capture yet another crown for my beloved Stann Creek district.
In this light, Rebecca Rath was treated with the very same respect as all other queens I had trained vying for a pageant title. This even meant travelling to all events and personal practices I had with Rebecca at my own expense, as I have always done when dealing with any other contestant. I did all this while simultaneously training another queen for a different national level pageant.
Music Ambassador Shyne Speaks on Miss Universe Controversy
The 5-part blog uploaded to the internet by Tony Rath on the behind the scenes accounts of the Miss Belize/Universe event has stirred emotions from various circles of society and in some cases have enraged many Belizeans. His account to what transpired between the contestant, Rebecca Rath and the Pageant Director, Opal Enriquez has basically indicated that the support was lacking and some under minding took place in Manila, Philippines. Since the blogs were released, one past pageant queen, Sherima Guity has countered them via the use of adjectives against Rebecca Rath which has added fuel to the already heated comments posted. It is quite a black eye on local pageantry and it is something that Belize’s Music Ambassador, Shyne Barrow, says can be reconciled sooner rather than later.
“I would really like to see the Ms. Belize organization and the Rath handlers try to resolve whatever issues are there and I would really encourage everyone involved to try to preserve this opportunity for the next Ms. Belize 2017 which I am very much looking forward to so I would really like to see reconciliation and a way forward but I really can’t say more than that I just want to see that all parties could reconcile differences and maybe chart a way forward because certainly we need to look at what this means for the 2017 Ms. Belize and I really wouldn’t want to see anything negatively impact their opportunity to go to Ms. Universe and compete on behalf of Belize so I really encourage everyone to try to be unified and try to resolve our differences and lets all come together to support the next Ms. Belize. We need to come together to provide that platform for the contestants and I hope we rally as a nation behind the next Ms. Belize.”
Ambassador Barrow says that he would be willing and available to render any assistance in getting the situation resolved in order to offer the next Belize an opportunity to head to Miss Universe.
“Whatever I could do. You know I have a great respect for Rebecca and what she’s accomplished I have supported her from the very beginning. My office and me personally I supported Rebecca I respect her parents, her grandmother even I’m very much a fan of her grandmother and I respect Opal and the Ms. Belize Organization and so yes certainly whatever I could do to be a bridge between the two and just get everyone on board so that we can chart the way forth so that the next Ms. Belize contestants and the next Ms. Belize winner has the unified support of the nation and all the resources that she needs and that none of the mistakes that were made previously be repeated.”
Pageant Director, Opal Enriquez is yet to respond to any of the allegations made against her in the Rath blogs.
Why Alex Sanker wants his Miss Universe painting back from Rebecca Rath
The fury over photojournalist Tony Rath’s blog continues to burn like wildfire online, where responses to the five-part article are being posted to Facebook in the wake of the lengthy tell-all. Rath has chosen to document his daughter Rebecca’s journey as a local contestant in the Miss Belize pageant to the world stage at Miss Universe in Manila, Philippines, back in late January. Rebecca didn’t make it among the finalists but the country rallied behind her. Along the way, however, the acclaimed photographer has stepped on a number of toes, including those of country director Opal Enriquez and Belizean artist Alex Sanker. Sanker was commissioned by the National Institute of Culture and Heritage, NICH, to paint a piece that would be offered as Belize’s gift to Miss Universe. That painting was completed and handed over to Rebecca Rath prior to her departure to Southeast Asia. Somewhere along the way, the artwork was lost, misplaced or discarded, in favor of a seascape by renowned Garifuna artist Pen Cayetano. The revelation of the painting’s disappearance has raised the ire of Sanker who today responded to Rath’s exposé.
So what actually happened to the painting?
What became of the commissioned artwork remains unknown. Sanker maintains that the painting was deliberately set aside in favor of a Pen Cayetano piece and that he personally hand delivered the painting to Rebecca Rath before boarding her flight.
Alex Sanker, Belizean Artist:
“This is actually a print off the original that I did. So, the only painting that I did a print and blow up because I was in love with this painting. Why? It came out way past my expectation and what I wanted to accomplish on canvas, and most importantly it’s one of the most dedicated pieces that I did. I spent five weeks on this painting, fourteen to eighteen hours a day. So weh people have to understand, I noh need this type of publicity. My painting sells itself, but I choose not to be used as a floor cloth fi get my name of my painting smothered and thrown to the side. That’s what this is all about.”