2nd Runner Up
Esther Essien Ukpong
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Esther Essien Ukpong. I hail from Obom-itiat, Ikoneto a village in Odukpani LGA, Cross River State, Nigeria. I’m 22 years old. I was born and bred in the ancient city of Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, Calabar South to be precise.
I am from the Efik tribe. I speak English, pidgin and Efik frequently. My hobbies are singing, acting, and reading. I am a 500-level student in the University of Calabar (UNICAL), studying Science Laboratory Technology. My favourite colour is red. I am a lovable strong optimist, always smiling and easy-going. My philosophy of life is “the difference between a stumbling block and a steppingstone is how high you raise your foot.”
Give a summary on your family and upbringing.
My nuclear family comprises of my mum, my younger sister (Destiny) and myself. I lost my dad last year. My mum is a schoolteacher, and my sister is in SS3 schooling at Command Secondary School Ohafia in Abia state. It also extends to uncles, aunties, grandparents, cousins, and in-laws, making my grandma Mrs Glory Ukpong my favourite. We're best described as the middle-class family and we're Christians and very nice people.
Is FONDCUP the first Pageant you have competed in?
No, FONDCUP is not my first pageant, but it is my first Cultural pageant.
Would you like to continue with your pageantry career when you handover the FONDCUP crown?
Yes, I'll love to continue with my pageantry career after my hand over, because FONDCUP has helped me discover that part I didn't know I had in me.
How did you feel when you were announced the 1st Runner Up of FONDCUP 2022/2023?
I felt shocked and over-whelmed with excess joy, that only tears of joy were the way to express it, because I was speechless and super grateful to God for this height.
What should we expect from you, during your reign as FONDCUP 2022/2023 1st Runner Up?
FONDCUP should expect a queen who will not only impact the Niger Deltan lives positively by utilizing her talents, skills and time or develop herself, but also promote and project the brand to the world. A queen who would put the brand and her people first.
What was your greatest fear during the competition?
My greatest fear during the competition, was fainting on stage during the grand finale, as I fell very ill a night before the event. At the grand finale, my legs couldn't really carry me, but I had to be smiling cause I had people who had put in a lot to see me there. I feared failing them right from camp.
What is your greatest fear during your reign as Face of Niger Delta Cultural Pageant 1st Runner Up 2022/2023?
My greatest fear during my reign is not able to bring something tangible and memorable into the brand and not being able to touch lives positively or spread the kindness virus effectively.
How was your camp experience?
Wow, I could write a book about this, the experience was fun, entertaining, educative, inspiring, exhausting, but in all, I loved the fact that I projected my culture (Efik) to the world and the garri making process I learnt a lot, which also changed my perspective about life.
The soap making class also gave me a skill for life. To crown it all I met beautiful, amazing 8 maidens from other states in the region and FONDCUP crew who has become my family for life.
The oral task improved my speaking, I also do better in composure and know how to carry myself elegantly. I have also learnt how to cope under tension and still stand strong giving it my best shot.
What legacy would you like to leave behind as a FONDCUP Queen?
A queen who would change the wrong perception people have about beauty pageants and be known as a kind titleholder.
What's your advice for young maidens like yourself within the Niger Delta region?
My advice for other maidens within the Niger Delta Region is, your background or status doesn't define your future but your mindset.
You can be whoever you want, whatever you want and wherever you want, only when you decide within yourself. Note also, immorality and/or listening to wrong advice from others is a dream killer.
Stay happy, always see the bright side of life despite how hard it hits you. There’s light at the end of the tunnel only when you believe.