On Oct. 14, 2000, Hawaii-born Filipina Angela Perez Baraquio made history as the first Asian-American and teacher ever to be crowned Miss America. Today, Angela remains the only Asian woman to hold the title. As Miss America 2001, she traveled more than 20,000 miles a month on a national speaking tour promoting “Character in the Classroom: Teaching Values, Valuing Teachers.” Her year of service allowed her to meet with students, teachers, legislators, governors, organizations, and thought leaders across the country.
The former K-3 Physical Educator/Athletic Director now resides in Southern California, where she teaches and speaks. Angela is married to high-school sweetheart and musician Tinifuloa Grey. The couple has two sons and owns a Polynesian entertainment company called Isle Entertainment. Angela also co-hosts a television show called “Living Local.”
Angela wrote this personal reflection exclusively for “Faith, Hope & Love.”
Growing up Catholic I always felt very close to God and truly believed He was always looking out for my best interest. I prayed constantly as a little girl, and quite honestly, I still do.
I think it’s true that in order to enter the kingdom of God, our faith in Him should be like that of a little child, knowing He will only give us what is best for us.
My mother used to tell me, “Angie, if you obey God and do His will, your life will be better than a fairy tale.” One thing I vividly remember as a child was believing wholeheartedly in the fact that one day I’d be married to a wonderful man and that I’d be a mommy someday. I remember having dreams of my future husband…a faceless man whom I felt loved me unconditionally and completely. As I grew older, it seemed like it was only a dream–one that would never come true. I was wrong.
I feel really fortunate to have met my husband when we were both 15. Except I didn’t realize he was the one that I had been praying for all along. I thought other guys were possibly my future husband, because this guy was way too nice for me. He was a 6-foot-tall altar boy, good friends with my little brother, and never said a word. I saw him every Sunday when I was singing in the church choir with my family at our church in Waikiki. He was very quiet and shy. Little did I know that he was secretly telling his family and friends that I was his dream girl and that he was going to marry me one day.
I never even knew he liked me until we were 18. I didn’t have a date, so I asked him to my winter formal. We became good friends and he later asked me to his senior prom. Then I asked him to mine.
He kissed me for the first time and professed his feelings for me the day he left for college, as he was about to embark on the beginning of his new journey toward a 5-year architecture degree in another state. We weathered the storm and survived a long-distance relationship. If it weren’t for our faith, I don’t think we would have been brought together, and I certainly don’t think we would have stayed together throughout my year as Miss Hawaii or Miss America, when we were apart for yet another year.
Today, we are happily married – we made 8 years in June – and have two beautiful little boys named Isaiah and Micah. My life is everything I could have ever hoped for and more. Now, more than ever, I realize the need to integrate faith into every endeavor in my life.
When it comes to seeking a mate who is perfect for you, it’s important to know who you are as an individual and know what you want in your partner. As my father says, in a relationship each person has to give 100 percent. You can’t bring only 50 percent and look for the other half in your partner.
To me, it was paramount that my husband was Catholic and that he had a strong love for and faith in God. I knew our relationship had to be based on something deeper, our faith.
No matter who you are or where you are in your life, I believe it’s never too late to pray for your spouse. I always think of how my prayers were answered before I even asked. God was already molding my husband to be the one for me and the father of my children.
The gift of faith is so precious. Always pray that God’s will be done because God always throws a better party. I am so grateful that I found the one for me and I pray that you find that perfect match for you.