The 1st Miss International pageant

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star

The Philippine bet Janicel Jaramilla Lubina made it only to the Top 10 semi-finalists at the just-concluded 2015 Miss International pageant (won by Miss Venezuela), but brought home a special award as Best Dresser for her figure-hugging white gown designed by Leo Almodal. So far, Venezuela holds the honor of having the most number (seven) of Miss International winners while the Philippines has five (Gemma Cruz in 1964, Aurora Pijuan in 1970, Melanie Marquez in 1979, Precious Lara Quigaman in 2005 and Bea Rose Santiago in 2013).

The 2015 Miss International pageant held in Japan marked its 55th anniversary. The winner of the first pageant was Maria Stella Marquez Zawadzky (now Mrs. Jorge Araneta) who represented Colombia. She’s the chairperson of Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI) that started sending delegates to the Miss International pageant since 1968 (Nini Ramos was a semi-finalist that year).

Recalled Funfare’s “other beauty expert” Celso de Guzman Caparas who filed this report, “From 1960 to 1964, our delegates were sponsored by Boys Town Philippines. No Philippine delegate was sent in 1965. The pageant was not held in 1966. In 1967, our delegate was sponsored by Textile Mills Association of the Philippines.”

The country’s first representative to the pageant (in 1960) was Edita Vital. Along with beauties from Australia, Hong Kong, Borneo, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, Edita traveled via the luxurious liner SS Orcades for almost a month and arrived in Long Beach, California, on July 29.”







The 52 contestants were divided into three groups and each group competed in the preliminaries held for three consecutive nights from Aug. 9 to 11. Group 1 winners were Marquez, Colombia (evening gown); Sigridur Geirsdottir, Iceland (playsuit); and Gladys Ascanio Arredondo, Venezuela (national costume). Group 2 winners were Marzena Malinowska, Poland (evening gown); Joyce Kay, England (playsuit); and Geirsdottir, Iceland (national costume). Group 3 winners were Lise Hammer, Norway (evening gown); Charlene Lundberg, USA (playsuit); and Yvonne Eileen Gunawardene, Ceylon (national costume).

Three special awards were handed out: Miss Friendship was Julia Ann Adamson of British Guiana and Miss Photogenic was  Geirsdottir of Iceland. Parade spectators during the International Beauty Parade held on Aug. 7 voted Miss Belgium Caroline Lecerf as the Most Popular Girl in the Parade.

The nine-member panel of judges scored the 15 semi-finalists in evening gown, playsuit (a conservative version of swimsuit), national costume and impromptu speech on the coronation night held at Long Beach Auditorium in Long Beach, witnessed by an audience of around 5,400.

“Vital made it as one of the semi-finalists along with Elizabeth Hodacs, Austria; Helga Kirsch, Germany; Lili Dajani, Israel; Maria Grazia Jacomelli, Italy; Michiko Takagi, Japan; Gretel Hedger Carvallo, Paraguay; Marzena Malinowska, Poland; Christl D’ Cruz, Singapore; and Gladys Ascanio Arredondo, Venezuela,” Celso noted.

Marquez’s runners-up were Iona Pinto of India (first),  Geirsdottir of Iceland (second), Kay of England (third) and Lundberg of USA (fourth). Emcee Byron Palmer crowned Marquez who took home $10,000 cash prize.

“With an estimated value of one million dollars,” according to Celso’s research, “the crown was made of solid gold and platinum and contained 1,000 cultured and black pearls collected from the waters of Australia, Ceylon, India, Mexico and the South Pacific. It was adorned with a large star containing 12 precious stones including garnet, diamond and ruby. The robe valued at $1,500 was created by a Long Beach furrier and made of satin and trimmed in genuine Russian ermine.”

Added Celso, “Reports have it that Marquez won by a mere half point over Pinto who stopped smiling when they stood on stage for another 10 minutes for the judges’ deliberation and final voting.”

The day after the coronation night, some contestants participated in the “Wedding of the Waters” event where they poured water from their respective countries into the Long Beach harbor. That night, all 52 delegates were escorted by naval officers in the gala coronation ball in Lafayette Hotel.

(Trivia: Hodacs was second runner-up while Marquez was a semi-finalist in the 1960 Miss Universe pageant won by USA’s Linda Bement, held on July 9, 1960, in Miami Beach, Florida. Barely three months later, Pinto competed and lost in the 1960 Miss World pageant in London won by Norma Cappagli of Argentina. Vital became an actress and appeared in Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo as Maria Clara, directed by Gerry de Leon with Eddie del Mar as Crisostomo Ibarra, for which she was nominated Best Actress in 1961 FAMAS; and in Mga Tigreng Taga-Bukid starring Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada, Romeo Vasquez and Tony Ferrer.)

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com.)


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