CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—The principal of the grade school that Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach attended here recalled her as being “fluent in English even at a young age,” a skill that might have helped her clinch the Miss Universe 2015 title in Las Vegas on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Netizens have noted as a clear advantage Wurtzbach’s articulate response in English during the question-and-answer portion of the pageant, in contrast to closest rival Miss Colombia’s need for an interpreter.
“Language facility is one of the things that our school emphasized, and Pia possessed a natural gift in this area,” said Maria Corazon Delfierro, principal at Corpus Christi grade school which Wurtzbach attended from 1998 to 2002.
Delfierro, now the school directress, described the Filipino-German pupil as a gifted artist who dabbled in painting.
“She was good at drawing and would sell some of her art pieces to her classmates. Even at a young age, she was enterprising and business-minded,” she recalled.
“Teachers remember her as a very nice, sweet little girl who got along with her classmates. And she got good grades,” Delfierro said.
After completing fourth grade, Wurtzbach and her family moved to Manila though she would always visit the school whenever they were in town, she said.
“She would always make it a point to come back. She has never forgotten us, never forgotten the school where she spent part of her childhood,” the school official said.
“We’re proud of her and thankful that we’re part of her success now,” she added.
Wurtzbach also spent vacations with her relatives in nearby Iligan City.
Her aunt, Olivia Alonzo Pendang of Barangay Pala-o in Iligan, said Wurtzbach and her mother, Cherryl, used to visit them when the new Miss Universe was only 2 years old until the family moved to Manila nine years later.
“Pia was very friendly. She used to play with the children in the neighborhood,” Pendang recounted.
And even as a young girl, she had always loved putting on makeup, she said.
“She wasn’t fussy even when her clothes got soiled. (But) we noticed that she liked wearing high heels and would pretend to be doing fashion shows. By then, her mother started coaching her on how to walk, pose and smile,” her aunt added.
“We are so proud of Pia,” said Pendang, who runs a food business in Iligan.