“Sometimes, it’s not really so much the substance, but more of your delivery.”
Of the bombardment of oh-so-good quotes Pia Wurtzbach let out on TV before leaving for Las Vegas, the venue of this year’s second Miss Universe tilt (Miss Universe 2014 confused us for happening early in 2015), this resonated with us—because we’ve raised this issue early this year.
In January, Inquirer Super attempted to wrap its collective head around why Venezuela’s Gabriela Isler and USA’s Olivia Culpo had tangential replies to their Miss Universe questions, and still snagged the 2013 and 2012 crowns, respectively. Perhaps it was personality, we noted.
Pia noticed, too—which means we are not crazy (we had our doubts).
Her recent interviews with Vice Ganda and Boy Abunda prove she knows the question-and-answer portion. She discriminates between serious and light questions, arranges her words for impact, makes her personality shine through.
Pageant veteran MJ Lastimosa also would have navigated the final portion well, we believe. Ah, if only the judges were merciful enough to forego the underwhelming evening gown and shoved her into the Top 5. Off with either Ukraine or the Netherlands, whose two-sentence answers slammed the door on their chances; or USA, who was intolerably perky while answering a Pacquiao question on terrorism! (She should have channelled Angelina Jolie instead of, I don’t know, Barney?)
But, it is time to let go. (As soon as we learned that the same designer made MJ’s flop and Colombia’s astounding ensemble, we went to Google so we may give a face to that now familiar name. Hate consumes.)
Ethereal in white
This year, our delegates are leaving no room for mistakes. This year’s haul is proving it.
Ann Lorainne Colis snagged the Miss Globe crown in Canada. Then, Parul Shah followed through with a third runner-up finish at Miss Grand International in Thailand, plus a Best in National Costume citation for Edwin Uy’s Maranao-inspired piece. (After an eternity!)
“Cinderella of the Philippines” Janicel Lubina, on Nov. 5, secured a top 10 spot in a field of 70, and also a Best Dressed award, at Miss International, thanks to a sparkling Leo Almodal gown that should instruct MJ’s designer on how to make a woman look ethereal in white.
The tears she shed during her final speech might not have gotten through to the judges, but it broke our hearts. (They chose Barbie dolls over a human, as far as we’re concerned.)
The rest of the wearers of the Philippine sash are now either in the heat of competition or counting days before they make their first impressions.
We’re hoping Cebuana Rogelie Catacutan wows Miss Supranational and host country Poland as the pageant concludes there Dec. 4. Among 81 candidates, she’s placed in the Top 10 for Top Model and Long Gown, won by Colombia and Myanmar (her black peekaboo dress by Cary Santiago deserved this one).
We claim her entry in the Top 15, like Yvethe Santiagio before her, but I’m hoping she channels that Victoria’s Secret vibe on the runway and that she was sincere in her closed-door interview (because there is no question-and-answer portion). That’s how Mutya Datul, whose weakest suit is the Q&A, won in 2013.
Hillarie Parungao is a strong contender in a year when there seems to be no clear favorite at Miss World. (Aminin, we all had an inkling Megan Young and Roleen Strauss would take 2013 and 2014.) She shines in a sea of over 100 beauties, looking expensive, but approachable and intelligent. Above all, she has a solid advocacy against child mortality.
I hope they do not underrate her the way they did Valerie Weigmann. China recently allegedly blocked Chinese-blooded Miss Canada from joining the pageant in Sanya, and we are hoping our fight for sovereignty is independent from Hillarie’s fight for the blue crown on Dec. 19.
Let’s not forget about Miss Earth, the Philippine-based pageant for the environment which celebrates 15 years and whose confusing medal-tally format is akin to Miss World’s equally befuddling point system. In Austria for the contest is Angelia Gabrena Ong, whose straight, jet-black hair is every Pinay’s (and some Pinoys’) dream. Among other achievements, she so far has a bronze medal in the evening gown contest, thanks to Leo Almodal.
Ong aims for a back-to-back victory with Jamie Herrell.
On Dec. 18, Christi Lynn McGarry will take her second shot at the Miss Intercontinental crown in Germany. Her win at Binibini confused pageant fans, because she had already reached Top 15 at the same in 2010, but she can easily pass off as another, fiercer candidate for the crown, the country’s first if ever.
We round out with Pia, who is a heavy favorite. Why not? While Donald Trump was juggling the future of the United States (and its immigrants) and that of Miss Universe, she was in the gym shedding weight.
We still remember Ariella Arida’s foxy eyes for no reason, but the thought of Pia’s lips—how a pout escalates into a smirk into a full smile—follows soon after. It will get her places, especially if she does that 2008 Dayana Mendoza twirl (of course, if her gown, whoever makes it, permits).
She will nail the preliminary interviews, for sure. While pageants have a growing appreciation for women with abs, Pia has a “strong core”— in trainer John Cuay’s terms—and a great transformation story to add to that.
If she ends up with a bridal gown, or one that fails to surprise, lalo na ’pag gawang foreigner, that would be another “major, major” roadblock. We will never hear what she has to say.
For, she said it, she loves explaining herself. And she can do it well.
The heck. She can even explain other people—say, for example professor Jessica Darden, a Filipino-Canadian who won Miss Earth in 2007, when she was still Jessica Trisco, Miss Canada, and who said something complicated about Miss Universe’s politics.
Jessica’s saying the same countries are making the cut year after year, Pia told Boy Abunda on Bottomline: “I think and I’d like to believe that Miss Universe is fair. It just so happens that the winners come from countries that are pageant crazy, and that the girls are prepared.”