Meet Christelle Abello, GSM Calendar Girl in a brave new world

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — What does it mean to be a calendar girl in a world on edge? Parts of the answer are personified by Christelle Abello — a beauty pageant contestant with an ever-so-bright smile, she always wins the Miss Friendship crown. And then there's the twinkle in her eyes that can only come from someone with a big heart.

For the 26-year-old Aklanon, recently named the 2021 Ginebra San Miguel Calendar Girl, preserving heritage and being proud of your roots are very important. She echoes the Filipinos' never-say-die ethos: "Staying resilient despite all the adversities that come our way."

For Christelle, the pandemic is one of those times when everyone has to come together. She started a personal fundraising drive for frontliners and kababayans who lost their jobs.

She realizes the inflection point the world finds itself in, in which global attitudes towards pageants are changing, and the events themselves are centering on messages of women empowerment and sustainability.

When it comes to her own upbringing, Christelle — whose father is a U.S. Marine from Kalibo while her mom is from Silang, Cavite — shares how Filipino values and culture were instilled in her at an early age.

Growing up in both San Diego, California and Okinawa, Japan, she regularly practiced speaking in Tagalog, and watched tele-seryes or even basketball games of living legend Robert Jaworski on television.

Whenever her family would visit the Philippines, she would take notice of the giant billboards: "And I said balang araw, magkaka-billboard din ako."

The 2021 Ginebra San Miguel Calendar Girl recalled how her titos and cousins, after a hard day’s work, would bond and unwind at the farm or the beach by kicking back and enjoying gin bilog or quatro cantos in the familiar four-cornered bottles.

"The ladies and I, we like to keep things sweet and we do mixed drinks," she added. "But we just like to drink to unwind, catch up with each other."

Christelle spoke to CNN Life about what a typical day for her is like, her bond with her family, and using her platform for positive impact.