Your victory couldn’t have come at a more opportune time when millions of Filipinos are reeling from various devastations in their individual lives. A destructive typhoon had just visited the country yet again, rendering thousands of our countrymen homeless, yet again – and forlorn during what is supposed to be the happiest season of all. You gave us something to cheer about, alright, and the ‘universe’ – this part of it, at least – is all agog over one beautiful Filipina wearing that much-coveted crown, despite the darkness enveloping so many places visited by ‘Nona’.
A crown that is 42 years long in coming, many beauty pageant followers jump in jubilation. Big deal? Perhaps. Aside from show business and politics, Filipinos are conversant and knowledgeable about their beauty queens. Plenty of beautiful women in these islands, most of whom remain ‘undiscovered’ either because they do not flaunt their pulchritude on Facebook or Instagram, or they remain so because their life’s ambition border more on the practical such as getting an education.
Significantly, the first two Filipina Misses Universe were not ordinary working class women or provincial lasses plucked from oblivion by talent agents like many beauty contestants, or movie stars for that matter, are produced these days. They were decidedly members of ‘alta sociedad’, or ‘burgis’ to borrow the era’s lingo. One said her family spoke Tagalog only to the house help and the other was a granddaughter of the country’s fifth President.
Significantly, too, the first Filipina Miss Universe came to be in 1969 when man first walked on the moon. (The question asked of the finalists was what they would do if a man from the moon landed in their hometown, and she answered matter-of-factly: “I think when he comes over, he wants to change, I guess.”) The second one was crowned four years later in the ruins of an ancient civilization recognized as the milieu of gods and goddesses. (They wore Grecian-inspired outfits in lieu of bikinis because the hosts considered it ‘unbecoming’ of their national traditions.) Your own victory was rendered significant by the host calling the wrong winner which instantly reverberated across cyberspace. The ‘awkward’ moment, though, allowed your ‘inner beauty’ to shine brighter than the diamonds on your crown.
Your back story, however, is far more interesting than your winning the title itself. Not giving up on your dream no matter how many attempts it took, all the while enduring ridicule from others for ‘trying (too) hard’, is the stuff that would certainly inspire many young girls also fantasizing about tripping the light fantastic. Now they will also SOL (shout out loud) ‘never say die’ – even if all they aspire for is putting food on the table, a shirt on their back and a roof over their head. Not to mention that ‘late bloomers’ will be given a new lease on their hopes of becoming whatever they have always wanted to be. At 26, you are near the ‘age limit’ and some women of lesser substance would have just given up.
The people who have been calling you out regarding your response to the question on the issue of American military bases making a comeback to our shores, don’t mind them. That was your opinion as a beauty pageant contestant, not as a political analyst, wannabe activist or mindless TV talking head. How many of us can think on our feet while being watched by a billion people across the globe on live television? You gave a thoroughly sensible answer without even stuttering, which no amount of rehearsals can teach if the space between one’s ears ring hollow. Those so-called nationalists will make their soundbites at every possible opportunity to earn their keep. I’ll bet my neighbor’s horse’s ass that they tote iPhones and iPads, and drive Hummers and Lexus’s, especially those who represent their nebulous constituents in Congress. They are progressive in sensibilities like the kid next door who wears a pair of Dr. Dre’s all the time.
So, yep – for the first time since perhaps 1969 and/or 1973, a Filipina won it because of the confidence she exuded while answering the last two ‘defining’ questions. “Confidently beautiful,” indeed. (We came close in 1999 and 2012, but fell short because our representatives either did not have the ‘it’ factor in the eyes of the judges or their response to that one question which determines the winner and also ran was bland.) In a sea of fine-looking faces, it always comes down to the ultimate standard of beauty AND brain. You carried the aura of a winner that night, most definitely.
As for the other contestant who was mistakenly called the title-holder by the “A-list” emcee, she was not really that “gracious” as some people who ‘sympathized’ with her would have it. She knew an “honest mistake” had been made when the Harvey man went back to the stage sheepishly, and she – like the rest of the contestants – saw the teleprompter saying “Philippines, take your first walk as Miss Universe 2015”. But she continued to strut around and turned her back on the camera to wave to the other contestants who all stood in their places when normally they would already have swarmed around the girl wearing the crown. Her attitude during and after the pageant night did not merit “amazing” as an adjective to describe her. You won fair and square, (not to mention that you were just being you while she came on as a Sofia Vergara-clone, and she used an interpreter when all the while she speaks English naman pala) with all four judges saying they all voted for you. That shut her up, I would surmise.
Thus, just continue to be well-spoken and represent the Philippines, nay, the “Universe” the best way you could while enjoying the perks and privileges that go with the title. (No matter if someone in Government is already making mental tax deductions on your year-long salary and some such.) It might take us another 42 years to find someone like you, so savor each moment and bring us, your beauty contest-crazy compatriots, along for the ride. But don’t forget to lend your voice for the downtrodden as well. We all need a piece of Miss Universe goodwill in our lives to deflect the evil of politics and the sham of show business now prevailing in this country.