Gerry Diaz: Going Beyond Pageant Mentoring
For Aces and Queens head Gerry Diaz, mentoring girls is not just about winning pageants. It’s about being a family.
Gerry Diaz has been in the pageant industry for a while now. As the head of beauty camp Aces and Queens, he has discovered, honed, and developed some of the country’s well-known titleholders and candidates. This is on top of his busy schedule as a banker and being there for his family.
But for the man fondly called Tito Gerry in the pageant industry, mentoring is not just about winning pageants. It’s also preparing the ladies for their respective paths and teaching them important values. Modern Parenting recently sat down with the Aces and Queens honcho about leading the group beyond mentoring and being a father figure to the girls.
Gerry Diaz on taking over the mantle and being a father figure
Gerry admitted that he felt overwhelmed when he was asked to head the team. This was following the departure of the three main heads of the group: Jonas Gaffud, lawyer Nad Bronce, and Arnold Mercado.
“He [Jonas] was able to produce three international titleholders,” Gerry Diaz said referring to the trifecta of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Miss World 2013 Megan Young, and Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa. “However, instead of getting overwhelmed, what I did was to ensure the excitement. That I will be given the responsibility to discover and train girls and make them realize their dreams of becoming a beauty queen. Iyon talaga yung nangibabaw.“
“There were two intense feelings but I chose to take the more positive one. The positive path.”
As a mentor, it was only natural that Gerry Diaz was also a confidant and father figure to the girls. But how does he balance it?
“When it comes to the training as a pageant candidate, we make sure that they are professional. We make sure they stick to our rules, to our regulations. And when someone does not, we call their attention immediately,” he answered.
“It’s like when your kid seems to go astray. You’re not supposed to just keep quiet about things. You have to be there to call the attention. And then from there, you make them understand why that type of behavior needs to be changed. Why it has to be changed, and why it should not be done.”
Gerry Diaz on going beyond mentoring
While he’s loved like a second father by many of the girls, Gerry Diaz is firm when he needs to be.
“I become stern when they do not do the things that were already cleared or oriented with them before tapos they do not follow the training program. So I tell the girls now we’re not doing it for ourselves. Kasi hindi naman kami yung mananalo.”
“We emphasize to them that from the very start, we’re going to train them. We give our time and we don’t charge them. Aside from that, we even shell out our own money in order to continue the training and help out with their needs. So we tell them the only payment that we need is that you respect the time that we give to you and give us the dedication and commitment. And we want to see that you’re training and you’re working hard. Because in the end, it’s all for you,” he said.
There were many stories that Gerry Diaz found himself sharing. Beyond being a mentor and simply being a parent to some of the girls. He recounted an instance where one girl had a serious emergency. And he stepped in to help her.
“What I said was you have to go to the hospital. You have to go check yourself and everything. And don’t worry about the expense. Tell me how much and I will pay. So I shouldered all the medication and the check-up therapy. Because I think it is part of our responsibility. It’s not just to train them but we take care of their welfare.”
Another time he found himself stepping in was when they found out one of the girls they were training didn’t know how to address some of the situations she was in. “I had to advise her. What is the proper way to address it and what is the proper thing to do.”
In addition, he assures the girls’ parents that he takes care of them. He allows them to join only activities required by the organizations. Moreover, he implements a buddy system where the girls have to be with someone always. He mentions that all mentors and girls are part of the family.
“It’s family. We don’t treat them like kids. Kung may slight misbehavior, we tell them right away. So kung umiyak sila or something, we have to tell them that we cannot treat them with kids’ gloves. We tell you as is. Kasi kung gusto niyo mag-compete, gusto niyo manalo, dapat you know where to improve.“
A happy family man
It’s not just about mentoring that the girls love about Gerry Diaz. A lot of them have approached him to become their godfather at their respective weddings. Not to mention, they are happy about their successes in their chosen fields after their pageant careers.
“It’s very fulfilling. I feel so good about that. They feel that they trust me. In the event that we become their second parent, we will be there to guide them.”
When it comes to his personal life, Gerry Diaz is happily in a relationship for more than 45 years with Jimmy Estopace. Close family and friends fondly call him Papa Jim. He is a doting father and grandfather as well.
The importance of trust
Of how his relationship has lasted, Gerry Diaz has always emphasized the importance of trust as well as giving and taking to make it work. “When they ask me to talk about relationships, I define true love in two words—trust and respect. You take away one and there’s no true love.”
“Trust and respect always go hand in hand. And lastly, there’s the art of compromise,” he points out.
Recalling how his partner retired early from work, Gerry made sure they balanced each other. “I made sure he wouldn’t feel inferior. Because outside of the house, ako yung nakakaangat sa career. But when it comes to house matters, siya talaga lahat. In our relationship and in our family, it’s really about balance.”
He reminds couples to leave their profession or career in their respective offices or outside the house once they step into their homes. “The moment you step into the house, you take away your persona as a career person. You become a human individual and you become a partner.”
Gerry adds that they eat out as often as they can. This is their way of spending time together and having date nights. He also tries to bring him to events.
“It’s very important to make your partner feel important and valued, and not let them feel neglected,” he advises. “Love is a game of giving and taking. If you always insist that you win the argument, okay. You win the argument. But you lose in the bigger game called life.”