Maxine aiming for back-to-back Miss Universe victory for PH
It felt like I was in Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” (universe, rather) castle when I had an up close and personal encounter with some of the Miss Universe candidates during the lunch hosted by PLDT and Smart Communications at the SMX Convention Center.
With our very own Maxine Medina, the beauty queens from Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Colombia, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam graced the event.
As an additional treat, the telco brand flew in Miss USA 2015 Olivia Jordan and Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez to be their social media hosts in “Miss Universe Insider.” The two beauties will let us in on exclusive updates and behind-the-scene happenings via PLDT Home’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
At the luncheon, I asked Maxine how she felt about Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz’s comment that she has a slim chance of winning since a “hometown decision” would be perceived as unfair to the other candidates.
“I respect Ms. Gloria’s opinion because she knows what it’s like to compete in Miss U,” says Maxine. “But a candidate will shine [if she is truly deserving], even if she competes in her native land.”
She added that winning in your own country is not a remote possibility because it happened to Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo, who was crowned Miss Universe in Las Vegas. Although Maxine insists that she isn’t affected by Gloria’s statements, there was a tinge of sadness in her voice as she appealed, “Let’s keep things positive. Negative vibes won’t help me at all. I will do all I can to make history for our country, with a back-to-back victory.”
Like Miss Philippines Universe 1994 Charlene Gonzalez, let’s support Max to the max. Her fate and our faith in her would make a potent combination.
I asked Miss Colombia Andrea Tovar, “What would you do if Steve Harvey made another faux pas, like in last year’s pageant, and proclaimed you the wrong winner?” She shot back, “I don’t think he will let it happen again. It was an honest error, and I’m sure he learned his lesson. I love Steve Harvey.”
Her predecessor, Ariadna Gutierrez—who was wrongly proclaimed by Harvey as Miss Universe 2015)—has moved on from that embarrassing incident and is set to star in a movie with Vin Diesel. After her “Miss U nightmare” comes her Hollywood dream.
Miss USA Deshauna Barber could pass for a young Michelle Obama. According to her, even if she did not vote for Donald Trump, she will support him. “I hope he can unite our country, because the heated elections divided us,” she pointed out. “He deserves to be given a fair chance, even if his leadership style is quite unusual. We should just keep an open mind.”
I asked Barber how she felt about feminist groups that consider beauty pageants exploitative for women. “I respect their opinion, but I don’t agree with them,” she explained. “We wear swimsuits not to parade as sex objects, but to show how hard we work to stay fit and healthy. The Miss Universe pageant empowers women. It isn’t just about beauty. It helps us enhance our talents and skills.”
Miss Great Britain Jaime-Lee Faulkner, who has a striking resemblance to Liza Soberano, shares the same sentiments as Miss USA: “No way does the pageant exploit us,” she quipped. “It has helped me become better in every aspect of my life. Being a beauty queen is a plus factor in my salon business.”
All the candidates were raving about Filipino hospitality, our mangoes, beaches and other tourist spots. They promised to entice their loved ones back home to visit the Philippines.
After the coronation rites on Jan. 30 at the Mall of Asia Arena, our beauty pageant-crazy country will surely miss the Miss U candidates and the pageant’s festivities. But there’s no doubt the queens will miss the Philippines even more—from “Crazy for Miss U” to “Miss you like crazy.”