Calling the Philippines the second home she hasn’t visited in ages, 1994 Miss Universe Sushmita Sen returned on Thursday to a warm welcome from Filipinos who fondly remember the beauty who won the crown 23 years ago.
Upon arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) at past 3 p.m., the beauty queen greeted other tourists, saying, “Welcome to Manila. This is one of the most beautiful places.”
Speaking to reporters, Sen said she considered her return to Manila to be a judge in the 65th Miss Universe pageant as a bit like “coming full circle.”
“I’ve always wondered why despite [my efforts] to come to Cebu to go diving, even to bring my kids for a vacation to the beautiful islands there, it just never worked out,” she said.
“I am very excited that God has given me an opportunity to complete this (full circle) in Manila, the opportunity to help, assist crown the new Miss Universe 2016. And I am hoping to find the most beautiful woman,” she said.
“In the past 23 years, I have understood what it means to be the essence of a woman,” Sen said, reminiscing the question and answer segment of the pageant when she was asked, “What is the essence of being a woman?”
She said she had lived the aspect of being a beautiful woman by giving birth to two children and sharing a lifelong commitment with a man.
The 1994 Miss Universe said she was looking forward to seeing other past Miss Universe winners and was also hoping to see her contemporary beauty Charlene Gonzales.
When she was crowned Miss Universe, she said the earrings she was wearing were Charlene’s. Before the pageant, she said she lost her luggage and was crying because she was going to look awful wearing a gown with no earrings. It was Charlene who consoled her.
“She (Charlene) walked up and said, ‘Excuse me. I am Miss Philippines and you are in my country. What do you need?’ I will never forget that. And she gave me her earrings and those earrings are the ones I won in,” she said.
The 1994 Miss Universe added, “I haven’t forgotten a thing. Everybody here has added to me being Sushmita.”