I slept through the Miss Universe pageant.
I had a good excuse—I was writing until sunrise and I was nursing a fever. But it wasn’t good enough for Jason, my pageant-obsessed best friend who, when I confessed, texted, “Whhhhhhhy???????!?!?!?”
Understandable. After all, the Miss Universe pageant is kind of a big deal for our barkada. We usually check into a hotel the night before the pageant, so we could watch it together the next morning. But not this year. We were all caught up in work and the insanity of the Christmas rush that we didn’t get to plan the pageant sleepover. (Why, crazy-haired Donald, did you move the damn pageant to December this year? I know it wasn’t to wear that Santa hat.)
Jason texted again, “Grabe, most exciting ever!!!” And that meant something, considering that last year, he screamed so much while watching Shamcey Supsup compete in the pageant that he scared our friend’s dogs, and that the year before that, he went so crazy each time Venus Raj’s name was called that I thought he was trying to win a Famas award (or a KFC commercial).
I already knew the pageant had been exciting. The first thing I did when I woke up was pick up my iPad and my Facebook and Twitter feeds were flooded with posts about Miss Universe.
“OMG, PHILIPPINES IS KABOGERA!!!!!!!!!!”
“Miss USA: Chorva, chirva, chenes… I don’t care anymore!!!! Janine for the win!!!!!!”
Holy crap! Wait! Janine Tugonon almost won?!
While kicking myself for not watching, I started reading the posts more carefully. Okay. Janine gave a great answer in the Q&A portion, Miss USA Olivia Culpo gave less than a stellar answer and tripped on her gown, but Miss USA still won. Soon I was convinced she should have won—and I hadn’t even seen the pageant.
I reposted a hilarious meme on my wall, created by TJ Dimacali. It shows a mataray-looking girl and the words, “Hindi nanalo ang Pilipinas? Sunugin ang universe.” I am ashamed to admit that because I am a telenovela virgin, I had to Google who it was. It was Angelica Santibañez from “Marimar.”
There was so much outrage on the social networks that you’d think Janine not winning was a bigger tragedy than the possibility of the world ending the next day.
There were cries of “Luto! Luto!,” “Dinaya tayo!,” “Homecourt advantage!” and warnings about heading to salons (“Wag magpaparlor ngayon, mainit ulo ng mga beki.”)
But it wasn’t just Filipinos. On articles on American websites like People, The Huffington Post and CNN, even non-Filipinos expressed their desire to see Janine crowned. “Anyone else think Philippines was robbed…? USA tripped on her dress and gave an awful…response. Philippines was awesome. Ah who am I kidding, Trump picks the winners,” one wrote.
Another wrote, “Miss Philippines should have won, she had it all.”
But not everyone was rooting for Janine. Fans of Miss Australia, Miss Brazil and Miss South Africa spoke up too, saying they should have won.
Others had bigger complaints.
“I’d like to know why the other galaxies weren’t allowed to compete,” said one smart aleck on Reddit.
“My vote was for Miss Jupiter,” another said.
The next day, I finally had the chance to watch the pageant—minus the nerves and excitement, of course, because I already knew how it was going to turn out.
I loved how confident Janine was (but I didn’t love how the pageant people misspelled the word Philippines when she was called to join the Top 16). I loved hearing the roar of the Filipinos in the audience every time Janine had a moment. It gave me goosebumps. Janine was beautiful and smart, she was steady and she was ready. Even those crazy pleats didn’t shake her. She did us proud.
But I can’t deny it—Olivia is beautiful, too. Yes, she tripped, but Miriam Quiambao tripped, too, in 1999, and we didn’t think it should have cost her the crown.
Do I still think Janine should have won? Yes. Hell, yes. I am fiercely loyal to our contestants. We could have sent Pokwang to the Miss Universe pageant and I would still be disappointed if she didn’t win.
But I have decided to take the cue from Janine, who, in post-pageant interviews have expressed nothing but gratitude.
And she has reasons to be grateful. We do, too.
Placing second out of 89 is a feat. Plus our beauty queens have set a record for our country by placing in the top five for three consecutive years. We have become a country to watch out for in the Super Bowl of pageants. As one Huffington Post user wrote, “I’m not surprised the Philippines placed, for the third year in a row, their representative beauty in the top five. They have slowly taken over Venezuela as the country to beat when it comes to beauty pageants… Those almond eyes and caramel skin will make blind men take a second look.”
We will get to the crown, we’re just doing it one beautiful step at a time. This will just make the moment when we finally win—and yes, I believe with all my beki heart that we will—even more glorious.
And when that happens, I promise not to sleep through it.