“We have a beautiful country, with so many beautiful. smiling and kind people. There is so much to learn. There is so much to experience. We want all Pinoys to be proud of our culture and heritage.” – Cristina Decena
They may see themselves as poles apart and the perfect example of opposite attracts. This is the reality of the statuesque beauty queen Venus Raj and the diminutive, yet very successful business woman, Cristina Decena. They are yin and yang. They are blue and red, and yes, they are the ladies of luxury and substance behind the travel magazine show Business Flight, now on its third season.
The Miss Universe 4th runner-up describes it as, “It is a weekly program that takes our televiewers to amazing journeys in the Philippines and abroad. Marami kaming pupuntahan na magandang lugar. Hindi lang naman kami pumupunta sa isang lugar for the sake na ma-experience namin, but it is for the audience na,hindi man namin kayo madala dito lahat at least kahit sa TV show namin, makita niyo kung gaano kaganda ’yung lugar. Hindi naman kami naghahangad na maging kakaiba na travel show. We just want genuine relationship with our audience, Venus explains.
She carries on, “I am enjoying it, I don’t see hosting the show as a job. What I like best is that I get to travel for free. I really love talking to people, sharing whatever I had to people so nagagawa ko siya dito sa show.”
We all know that Raj, started the ball rolling in making the country as a “serious” contender to the Miss Universe pageant that year. Up close and personal, she has none of the beauty queen and celebrity air. She is candid, sincere and what a stunner indeed with her “kayumangging-kaligatan” skin tone.
She divulges, “I never felt like I am a celebrity. Believe me, I can chat or share small talk with a janitor or a househelp. I treat everyone equally, with a lot of respect of course sa taong kausap o kinakausap ko. Nagkataon lang na ito ang binigay na trabaho sa akin. You and me, we are not different at all. Hindi ka iba sa akin. Hindi ako mas mataas sa iyo.”
Raj is also a stickler for time. She explains, “I understand the importance of punctuality. I always want to be on time. People don’t have to wait for me. Okay lang na ako na ’yung mag-intay pero ako, I make sure na on time ako because conscious din ako sa time ng ibang tao. Being a celebrity comes with a great responsibiltiy, It is not all about fame and fortune. It is a is a platform to influence other people. I realize money is not everything. When you reach that point na, okay may pera ka, successful ka, sikat but after that, ano na?”
She continues, “When you are maturing, iisipin mo kasi ano ba talaga ang mga mas importante sa buhay mo. Hindi ko iniisip na kilala ako. Binigyan ako ni Lord ng platform to influence other people and to use it for His glory. One day, when this life ends, I hope I made a difference pero not necessarily na pinuri ako ng tao or naging pina-kamaganda ako. Gusto ko na when I face my creator, He will tell me ‘Good job,’’’she states.
Aside from being a beauty queen, Venus happily shares that she finished a Master in Community Development from the University of the Philippines. This accomplishment, Raj is mighty proud of, “Being a beauty queen was a dream that I realized, so I made another one, and thank God, I realized it again.”
For Venus, the top three destinations in the country she would recommend to foreigners are Palawan, Vigan and Bicol, her hometown. She expounds, “Super daming magagandang makikita sa Palawan lalo na kapag you are a nature and ocean lover, so ’yan talaga ang number one. If you want naman mga heritage structures, Vigan talaga. Of course, sa Bicol you could see a lot of beautiful people and the best dishes, of course.”
On the other hand, Raj’s co-host, Cristina Decena, says that she has found in Venus Raj a kindered spirit and a good friend, as well. She reveals, “Yung salitang pagpapatawad, si Venus ang nagturo sa akin.” For the record, the Business Flight co-host survived an ambush four years ago because of a property dispute. “Okey na kasi lahat ng mga taong nag-threatem sa akin, humingi na ng tawad.”
Decena calmly shares. “Kaya nga sabi ko, ito yung luckiest and memorable year for me. Halos nilampaso ako sa kahihiyan, binigyan ako ng kaso, lahat yun nag-back out na. Humingi ng tawad at pinatawad ko naman, hindi lang sa salita kung di sa puso. I never thought that such things will happen to me kasi nga, wala naman tayong tinapakan na tao.”
Decena insists that Venus is like an earth angel sent to her. “When Venus and I started to work together in Business Flight, she introduced to me the teachings of the Lord. Through her sharings, especially the words of God and the wisdom behind His words, nawala ang lahat ng takot sa akin. I really thought then that I will find it extremely difficult to forgive then, knowing the fact that the matters were already in court. God indeed works in a mysterious and long way, gumawa rin si Lord ng paraan na totoo ko silang patawarin.”
Another source of Cristina’s joy is the reality that her show Business Flight is on its third season. “Well, having a third season is no easy feat kaya tuwang-tuwa ako,” Decena chirps cheerfully. “Venus is the show’s best asset kasi mabait. I enjoy working with her, tsaka yung mga anak ko, the rest of the crew, na makatrabaho siya. We have bonded quite well, slowly but surely, di na kami nagkakaroon ng hiyaan sa isa’t-isa. On cam and off-cam, sobra kaming kumportable, it is like we are not working at all. And may I add, alam namin na mayroon pang fourth at fifth season.”
Decena smiles triumphantly. “There are so many places here in the Philippines that we want to discover and explore. Sabi ko nga kay Venus, liligirin namin ang buong Pilipinas.” Business Flight airs every Saturday, 11:30 A.M. on GMA News TV.