‘Night of the Kayumanggi’
REMEMBER WHEN? - Danny Dolor (The Philippine Star) - January 4, 2015 - 12:00am

The Aug. 22, 1964 issue of Philippines Free Press devoted a lengthy article on Gemma Cruz, newly-crowned Miss International, titled, Night of the Kayumanngi. More often than not, the country sent fair-skinned mestizas to compete in the Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International pageants, many of whom didn’t even make the semi-finals.

It took a kayumanggi (morena or brown beauty) to finally win the top title, Gemma Cruz, 21, in Long Beach, California. But then Gemma is tall (5’10”), shapely (37-25-37), intelligent and classy. She speaks fluent English and Spanish and comes from one of Manila’s ‘most socially and intellectually distinguished families.’

Gemma’s mother is a Guerrero (the writer Carmen G. Nakpil) and her father (Ismael Cruz) was the grandnephew of the National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

The Guerreros were against her joining the Miss Philippines contest but the pageant’s organizers persuaded Gemma to do so, convinced (and rightly so) she had very good chances of winning the national and eventually international beauty pageants.

Earlier, Gemma was proclaimed Lakambini of the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC).

Wearing a bathing suit in Long Beach was described by Gemma ‘the most appalling experience in my life. I just hope none of the pictures of me in the swimsuit reach the Philippines.’

Needless to say, those pictures were splashed in local newspapers and magazines.

One of the Miss International judges, Arlene Dahl, noted: ‘She won mostly on her regal bearing’ — in swimsuit or in formal gown.

To date, Gemma remains a stunning beauty.

After Gemma, four other Filipinas won the Miss International crown: Aurora Pijuan, Melanie Marquez, Precious Lara Quigaman and Bea Rose Santiago.   — RKC

AFTER GEMMA ARLENE DAHL AURORA PIJUAN CARMEN G DR. JOSE RIZAL ENGLISH AND SPANISH GEMMA GEMMA CRUZ LONG BEACH MISS INTERNATIONAL
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