Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is crowned Miss Universe 2015 on stage during the 2015 MISS UNIVERSE show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas, California, on December 20, 2015. AFP FILE PHOTO
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach probably waited for this moment all her life. Now that it’s about to happen, the country’s third Miss Universe, in a text message to this paper’s Lifestyle editor, said that she was feeling both “excited and nervous.”
She should be.
Beauty pageant-crazy Filipinos have waited 42 years to see one of their own crowned Miss Universe after Margie Moran in 1973, and Gloria Diaz in 1969. Expect them to come out in full force to cheer on Wurtzbach in a ticker tape parade on Monday.
The New York-based beauty queen will be arriving today to a rousing welcome after a brief official visit to Indonesia. Some 300 members of the foreign media are flying in to Manila to cover Wurtzbach’s packed schedule, which begins tomorrow, Sunday, with a series of interviews and a press conference at Novotel Hotel in Quezon City.
Although the exact schedule has yet to be announced, Wurtzbach is also expected to pay a courtesy call on President Aquino at Malacañang.
The highlight of her homecoming however is Monday’s ticker tape parade, which starts 2 p.m. at Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City, and ends at Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City.
Ensconced in a specially designed float shaped like her Miss Universe crown, Wurtzbach will meet well-wishers along the parade route on Roxas Boulevard and Quirino Avenue in Manila; Ayala Avenue and Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati; Edsa and Aurora Boulevard in Cubao.
The country has been gripped by Miss Universe fever since Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI), led by its chair Stella Marquez-Araneta, announced Wurtzbach’s official homecoming schedule almost two weeks ago.
BPCI is in charge of the annual search for the country’s representatives to some of the world’s most prestigious beauty pageants, including Miss Universe and Miss International. It is coordinating with the Miss Universe Organization for Wurtzbach’s series of homecoming activities.
Expect not a few flag-waving fans lining the parade route to wear a replica of Wurtzbach’s Art Deco-inspired crown encrusted with diamonds and sapphires.
Some “Pianatics,” as Wurtzbach’s fans call themselves, even had replicas of her royal blue gown by Filipino designer Albert Andrada made for the occasion. Everyone in the local rag trade, from chichi designers to neighborhood dressmakers, had seen a spike in demand for dresses in “Pia blue.”
When she meets President Aquino sometime next week, last year’s Miss Universe will be wearing Andrada’s ivory and rose quartz terno made of neoprene and silk gazar.
She will later change into an emerald green chiffon gown with detachable terno sleeves, also by Andrada, as she waves to fans under the afternoon sun. The gown’s skirt is also detachable and has a short dress underneath.
“I used an airy material like chiffon because I want Pia to feel comfortable,” said Andrada in an exclusive interview. “I can just imagine how tiring it will be during her daylong parade. I chose emerald green because she’s a gem to all Filipinos.”
On Tuesday, it will be the turn of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, acting Makati Mayor Kid Peña and congressional representatives to meet Wurtzbach in a series of courtesy calls.
A congressional medal of distinction awaits her at the House of Representatives.
Wednesday will be devoted to charitable activities, including Wurtzbach’s advocacy of raising awareness on HIV/AIDS.
Before she became Binibining Pilipinas-Universe after three attempts, the 26-year-old beauty queen was contributing writer and stylist for Inquirer Lifestyle’s ToBeYou.
Using the screen name Pia Romero, Wurtzbach first made a name for herself as a teen talent of ABS-CBN’s Star Magic, together with Bea Alonzo and Pauleen Luna.
Born and partly raised in Germany, she became the family’s breadwinner in her preteen years after her German father and Filipino mother separated when she was 9.
Wurtzbach will be reunited with some of her show-biz friends when she stars in a Miss Universe homecoming special at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City, on Thursday evening.
At the Araneta show, Wurtzbach will be wearing the royal blue Andrada gown she wore to the Miss Universe finals.
Andrada, who reportedly didn’t charge BPCI for the gown, left it with Wurtzbach in New York as she might need it for an official Miss Universe photo shoot.
“I don’t want to sound selfish, but honestly, I want to keep the gown,” said Andrada. “Pia’s winning in Miss Universe is already pageant history. I want a remembrance from her, which I could cherish for the rest of my life. But we’ll see.”