She grew up in a dedicated Christian household — an obedient daughter and a good student, all the while holding a torch for her dream of becoming a beauty queen.
So began Precious Lara Quigaman, as the beauty queen and proud mother of two shared her story last July 20, 2019 at the Mugs N’ Muffins annual tea fellowship for women organized by Greenhills Christian Fellowship Ortigas Women’s Ministry. (This is the second Mugs N’ Muffins event that Familywise Asia has attended. You can read more on that here.)
Honest and unpretentious, Lara talked like everyone in the room was her friend, and more importantly, that she recognized everyone to be a sister in Christ. She continued sharing her story with humility in her voice.
Lara thought herself good then, and wanted for nothing but her dream. Her parents supported her in every way. She continued being a proud and vocal Christian, even when her life had changed overnight since being crowned Miss International 2005. She immersed herself in vices, bad decisions and the lies that came because of them.
She also found herself trapped in a physically, emotionally, and spiritually abusive relationship. He broke her spirit, she narrated, broke her down and made her believe she was worthless, that nobody would ever love her except him–even though his love hurt her. During this time, Precious was already a celebrity, and she would pay extra care to her clothes in order to cover the marks he made on her.
God saved her through her mother–an overseas nurse who turned up one day by her bedside. She cried and confessed, and together, they closed that chapter of her life. Lara eventually found her life partner in Marco Alcaraz, who became a supportive husband and a loving father.
And yet Lara still could not find peace. Bits of anxiety would eat at her at random parts of the night, and she did not know what to make of it. She did not know what she was running from. Nevertheless, she surrendered herself to Jesus in prayer, vowing complete surrender to His will.
Inspired by this prayer, she uploaded Bible quotes on Instagram. Coincidentally, it was also the time when a major event for the country’s prominent religion was going to take place. Her message was misconstrued, and she found herself embroiled in controversy. She remained calm before the media, but deep inside felt spiteful because of the misunderstanding. She wanted to respond in more Bible verses to communicate her feelings.
But in her search, God stopped her. She saw this passage instead,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 NIV)
Amidst all the turbulence happening around her and to her, Lara had an epiphany. She thought of her entire Christian life, of her supposed goodness as a child, of her obedience. Underneath it all were self-serving white lies — reading the Bible for her own purposes, using the words of the Bible to reinterpret the message of God, pursuing material fame and personal glory. In contrast, she thought of everything she had received from the Lord: a beautiful family from birth, another that she helped build, a platform to speak on, and the grace she received from God through Jesus Christ.
It was at that time that she truly surrendered everything to Christ. She realized her mistakes, asked for forgiveness, and most importantly, also learned to forgive herself.
Today, she is a happy family woman, but more importantly, she feels at peace–in the love, goodness, and grace of God.
Lara spoke with complete honesty and sincerity, and she did not mask her selfishness and actions as a child. This is perhaps the most enjoyable of Lara’s story. We are all human–imperfect and fallible. She does not mask this part of her humanity, but continues to grow instead through the grace of the Lord. She has found her true worth in the Lord, and finally feels like her namesake, precious.
To conclude her message, she prayed for us, and reminded us that there were no coincidences. In His love and sovereignty, God leads us to Himself through the paths He has laid out for us. And He will draw us, if we are willing to listen and learn.