TOGONON. Almost won the elusive title. AUGUST DELA CRUZ

TOGONON. Almost won the elusive title. AUGUST DELA CRUZ

The Philippines, like Venezuela, is addicted to international beauty pageants. In 1953, Armi Kuusela of Finland, the first Miss Universe, conquered the country when she came for a surprise visit.

Armi famously eloped with Virgilio Hilario, a handsome, Jaguar-driving businessman, and raised their mestizo children here. In fact, she was elected barangay captain of Barrio Forbes Park. She now reportedly resides in Long Beach, California—where the Miss Universe pageant began!

The country has won two Miss Universe crowns (for Gloria Diaz and Margie Moran) and four Miss International titles (Gemma Cruz, Aurora Pijuan, Melanie Marquez and Lara Quigaman). However, many Filipinos consider the first Miss Universe (Armi) and first Miss International (Stella Marquez of Colombia) Filipinas since they married Filipinos.

Not long ago, our country got very excited when exotic Miriam Quiambao almost brought home the coveted Miss Universe crown. She has become a television personality.

The country was just as excited when Venus Raj won third runner-up in the prestigious beauty tilt. Shamsey Supsup did even better when she won second runner-up the following year. Last December, Janine Togonon almost won the crown—she was first runner-up!

Will the Philippines make it this year? Filipinos would love it! We’ve all been “resuscitated” by Nonito Donaire’s recent victory in boxing, especially after Manny Pacquiao’s shocking loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.


There’s hope that we will eventually get our third Miss Universe, since we take beauty contests oh, so seriously. But, I would advice our contestants to answer questions in Tagalog, instead.

Most Hispanic contestants demand a translator, even if they speak English.

So, let’s leave English to the Indian, American and British contestants. That way, we can avoid a “major-major” problem!

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