Japan-based Filipino appointed as head director of Miss International pageant organizer ICA
MANILA, Philippines — Stephen Diaz has been promoted as the head director of the International Cultural Association (ICA), the nongovernment organization that mounts the annual Miss International beauty pageant, one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.
“With this position, I am accepting the challenge of making Miss International the most exciting annual pageant of all,” the Tokyo-based Filipino said on his Twitter account on April 5. He has been functioning as the association’s marketing manager, and was promoted to his new post on April 3 as the first Filipino to assume it.
Last Monday I got promoted as the new head director of the International Cultural Association, the NGO that organizes the Miss International Beauty Pageant. With this new position, I am accepting the challenge of making Miss International the most exciting annual pageant of all!
— Stephen Diaz (@DiazStephen) April 4, 2023
“I didn’t expect they would give this position to a non-Japanese,” Diaz told the Inquirer in an exclusive interview conducted online. He has been with ICA in an official capacity for just over four years, but said he has been helping the organization “back in 2013 to 2017 as a Missosology correspondent.”
Missosology is a global pageant page delivering news and updates about beauty contests to audiences worldwide. “I was covering the [Miss International] pageant and helping as a volunteer staff, until Akemi (Shimomura, ICA chair) headhunted me during [2017 winner] Kevin Liliana’s year,” Diaz shared.
With Diaz’s recent promotion, he has moved up the hierarchy and will now directly report to Shimomura about matters relating to the Miss International and Miss International Japan pageants. The association mounts both the global and national annual competitions.
“It means I’m taking charge of what’s going to happen at Miss International before, during, and after the pageant. I approve who will be our license holders,” he shared, while also clarifying that his promotion still does not make him that all-powerful “in the whole Miss Paris Group as a conglomerate.”
Diaz has been covering the Miss International pageant in Japan for more than a decade before he officially joined ICA, and has witnessed how Precious Lara Quigaman broke a quarter of a century title drought for the Philippines when she captured the crown in 2005, 26 years since Melanie Marquez captured the title in 1979.
Out of all the most prestigious international pageants in the world, the Philippines has found most success in the Miss International competition with a total of six winners. Aside from Quigaman and Marquez, the other Filipino queens are Gemma Cruz (1964), Aurora Pijuan (1970), Bea Rose Santiago (2013), and Kylie Verzosa (2016).
The 2023 Miss International pageant, the 61st edition of the global tilt, will be held at the Yoyogi Gymnasium No. 2 in Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan, on Oct. 26. Binibining Pilipinas Nicole Borromeo will represent the Philippines in the competition. EDV