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
The Philippines will host the 65th Miss Universe pageant in January next year, the third time Manila is to welcome international beauties to the contest, officials and organizes said on Wednesday night.
Miss Universe Organization (MUO) Vice President Shawn McClain signed contracts with Philippine sponsors led by former Gov. Chavit Singson who will invest $11 million into the event, they said.
Singson said he was glad to see the pageant back in the Philippines, the first Asian country to host the annual competition in 1974, and again in 1994.
“There was a time that it was canceled,” said Singson, president of the official host, LCS Holdings.
Pressed for an explanation, Singson said one of the owners of the MUO is a Jew. The owner’s brother also served as chief of staff of US President Barack Obama and now mayor of Chicago, he said.
Singson did not elaborate but he was apparently referring to Ari Emanuel and his brother Rahm Emanuel.
President Duterte earlier drew criticisms for referencing Germany’s Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust in his war against drugs, while Obama was often a subject of the presidential tirades. Mr. Duterte has apologized to the Jewish community for the Hitler remark.
The LCS Holdings has paid the fees and the contract has been signed, and the MUO owners said they would pay back everything including damages, Singson said.
“I showed to them that we’re not greedy. That even though it’s been fully paid and there’s a signed contract, we will not file any case,” he said.
Singson said that through the intercession of his Jewish friends in Israel, they were able to convince the owners to reconsider.
The LCS Group and major partners from the private sector, Okada Manila, Solar Entertainment and SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc., would provide the funds needed to stage the pageant.
The candidates are expected to visit tourist spots in the country, including Vigan, Cebu, Baguio and Davao, for the pre-pageant activities.
Aside from hosting the coronation night, the SM Mall of Asia would also be the venue for the Governor’s Ball, National Gift Auction, National Costume, the Fashion Show, the Designer Showcase and After Party, among other activities.
The live broadcast of the competition draws about 500 million viewers worldwide, including many from the Philippines, McClain said.
Filipino beauty queen Pia Wurtzbach currently holds the Miss Universe crown from 2015.