MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino does not consider himself the lucky charm of 2013 Miss International Bea Rose Santiago.
“Do I consider myself a lucky charm? It would be too presumptuous of me to say I’m a lucky charm to anybody. If some people consider me a lucky charm, thank you,” the President said.
Aquino met Santiago during his visit to Japan last week. He wished her luck, and asked the Filipino community in Japan to support her quest for the title in the 2013 Miss International beauty pageant in Tokyo.
Selfie with Aquino
Santiago posed for a selfie with the President. The picture went viral online before Tuesday’s pageant.
“[I hope] I will [have] the same experience … I had in Bali, Indonesia,” the President said, recalling that he was in Bali a week after Bb. Pilipinas Megan Young was crowned Miss World there.
“Megan won before I arrived in Bali. I think the contest was over and … people were greeting me, ‘From Philippines, Miss World! Miss World!’ (So I responded), ‘Thank you,’” Aquino said.
In a speech in Malacañang following the grant of an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification to the Department of Health, Aquino referred to Santiago’s victory and to other good news amid the national concerns that, he noted, came one after another.
News of Santiago’s victory reached Aquino while he was having dinner in Malacañang with visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday.
“We’re having dinner with Secretary Kerry when the news reached us,” he said, noting that everyone at the table was happy to hear it.
“When I came home—let me just share this with you—someone sent me a text message … (from someone) named ‘Heckler’ something. So, the text goes, ‘There’s a lot of beautiful women in the Philippines,’” Aquino said.
He said he liked the text message, except that it was followed by another text message from the anonymous text sender, which read, “So, P-Noy, you have no more reason (not to have a girlfriend).”
“So in the end, it’s my fault?” Aquino said, drawing laughter from his audience.
Aquino said he didn’t mind being heckled about his being single, as most of the time he was busy with his job.
Santiago is the Philippines’ fifth Miss International. She was crowned in a pageant marred by allegations of intimidation that kept her predecessor away.
Break with pageant custom
In a break with pageant custom, Santiago was crowned by Spain’s 2008 Miss International Alejandra Andreu of Spain and not by 2012 Miss International Ikumi Yoshimatsu of Japan, who stayed away from the glitzy show.
“I really wanted to meet her,” Santiago said. “It was very unfortunate because I really wanted to meet last year’s winner also.”
Yoshimatsu told foreign journalists this week in Tokyo that she had been asked by organizers to stay away from the final.
She said that since winning, she had faced a running battle to maintain her independence from the management agencies that formed the backbone of Japan’s entertainment industry.
Yoshimatsu said a senior executive at one agency had been in touch with her on many occasions. After she had repeatedly rebuffed him, he telephoned the main sponsor of the Miss International competition, she said.
As a result, the Miss International office in Tokyo began “instructing me, to ‘play sick,’ ‘keep quiet’ and not to attend the world final pageant here in Tokyo … to pass on my crown to my successor,” she said.
The organizer of the beauty pageant, Tokyo-based International Culture Association, did not return calls made by Agence France-Presse.
A local tabloid magazine has reported the executive of the management agency denying he was carrying out any campaign of harassment, saying that he was involved in a separate dispute with Yoshimatsu’s agent over money.—With a report from AFP