Sunday, July 15, 2012
FIL-AM BEAUTY QUEEN TRACES ROOTS TO JOLO
Iana, 18, is this year’s Miss Teen Philippines-America, reportedly one of the longest-running pageants in the Metro DC region.
She also an interesting pedigree – her father Gerry Kozelsky, a Chief Executive Officer of a transportation company in Baltimore, is from the Czech Republic, and her mother Sara Amel who runs a day care, grew up in one of the most strife-prone villages in the Philippines.
Sara was born in
a barangay in Jolo, Sulu that has been the scene of periodic fighting triggered
by everything from family feuds to the presence of Abu Sayyaf bandits.
It was the seat of the Muslim secessionist uprising in
Mindanao and much of the town was torched by
fleeing rebels after government troops landed there in the early 70s. The US deployed Special Forces in 2006 and helped
drive out terrorists in the capital town the following year.
“It was okay, medyo magulo,” Sara shared with the Manila Mail. But then she soon left, studying at Notre Dame high school and then to
about a hour’s plane ride away. Zamboanga
She earned an accounting degree from Ateneo de Zamboanga, she revealed.
She travelled to
in 1986, met Gerry and they married in 1987. Silver Spring, Maryland
Their life has revolved around Iana, their only child. They’re excited about her plans. “She’s a natural,” Gerry says about her plans to pursue a career in journalism. “That’s what she wants to do.”
“Every since I was about in high school I was into public speaking and speeches in class but in my last 2 years of high school, as part of the newspaper team in school, that got me into the news more and interested on what’s going on,” she told the Manila Mail.
She professed an interest in politics and entertainment – perhaps an impractical combination here but something that might find more relevance if she were working in the
She was just 4 years old during her 1st and last visit to the
Her father said he’s visited Jolo twice, the last time was back in 1998. He enjoyed the visit, Gerry insisted, and didn’t feel threatened. If there were dangers, he now recalls with a chuckle, “I didn’t know because nobody told me about it.”
Gerry and Sara vacationed there last September but only stayed in
Zamboanga City which they now count as home away outside
He says Iana wants to go back too but they just didn’t have the time, especially now that she’s starting college. “I want to see my family there because they don’t have a chance to visit us here, to visit
Mindanao which I don’t remember much,” she