What Pia did on her first day home

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Wearing a blue dress (her “lucky” color) during a one-on-one with The STAR yesterday afternoon before she presided over the general press conference at the ballroom of the Novotel Hotel in Quezon City where she’s billeted for her week-long homecoming, 2015 Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach said that the first thing she did as soon as she arrived was give her mom, Cheryl Alonzo Tindell, a big hug. The mom flew in from England ahead of Pia.

Wearing her sash but not her $300,000 Miss Universe crown, Pia proceeded to talk about the three things that she missed most during her month-long stay in New York after the pageant, which will be her home during her reign, and where she gets the energy for the hectic schedule during her homecoming, including a parade around Metro Manila today; a courtesy call on Pres. Noynoy Aquino in Malacañang Palace and on the House of Representatives; a tribute show at Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, Jan. 28; serving as bridesmaid at the wedding of her friend Pauleen Luna to Vic Sotto on Saturday, Jan. 30; and what she plans to do after her reign.

Here’s the full interview:

What was the first thing that you did upon your arrival last Saturday?

“I didn’t have my phone with me during the ride from the airport to the hotel. But first thing I did as soon as I got to the hotel was hug my mom who arrived (from England) ahead of me. First time that I saw her after the Miss U pageant.”

What did you miss most about the Philippines during the one month you were in New York after you won?

“Three things: the food, the people…it’s so nice to speak in Tagalog…and the weather because it’s so cold in New York. I heard there’s a blizzard now and I’m so glad I’m not there, hehehehe!”

Did you miss someone special?

“No, not really. My mom, maybe.”

Pia in a reunion with best friend Pauleen Luna, shown at right in a loving kiss with her soon-to-be husband Vic Sotto on Eat, Bualaga! last Saturday. Pia will serve as bridesmaid at Pauleen and Vic’s wedding on Saturday, Jan. 30. — From Pauleen’s Instagram

You said in a pre-pageant (Miss U) interview, “My mother doesn’t know about it, so no.” At the Philippine Consulate in New York, you were quoted saying, “Akala ko kami…”

“Hahahaha!!! It wasn’t a boyfriend; it was just somebody I was dating.”

Who was he? Siguro nanghihinayang na siya ngayon.

“Hmmm, nothing serious. Huwag na lang.”

You said that during your one-year reign, ‘yung crown mo ang boyfriend mo. If ever, nakapila ang suitors, what type of man do you prefer?

“Somebody who is smart and intelligent, and who has a good sense of humor.”

Somebody powerful and influential?

“I really look more on the characteristics first because it would be totally useless to have somebody who is in power but who has no respect for you at all. So I would do a checklist on his characteristics first.”

Somebody younger than you, older than you or somebody your age?

“Maybe somebody my age or a bit older than me because I would love to learn from him.”

The STAR team during the interview with Pia, from left: Ricky Lo, Celso de Guzman Caparas, Jerry Donato and Nathalie Tomada

Hollywood actor James Franco seems to fit the bill?


He congratulated you on social media and his message for you went viral. Did you have regular communication after that?

“No, never. It was just his Instagram post and that was all.”

Would you like to meet him in person?

“Yeah, why not?”

What about K-Pop star Siwon? He also posted a congratulatory message for you.

“Yeah, I saw that. I thought that was really sweet of him.”

How did you feel about it?

“As his fan, I found it very flattering.”

You are traveling around the world. How do you prepare for it?

“I have to find out first where I am going and what time I am arriving there so I won’t get jetlag. That’s something that I want to avoid because I find it very difficult to function when I don’t get enough sleep. So I make sure that I sneak in a few hours of sleep whenever I can. That was the advice of (outgoing Miss Universe) Paulina Vega during her final walk. She said, ‘To the new Miss Universe, get sleep when you can.’ And I never forget it because now that I am Miss Universe, I know what she meant. She was right. So I bear that in mind.”

How much sleep did you get last night?

“Eight hours.”

Traveling can be taxing. Good thing you don’t have fear of flying.

“I used to be very terrified of flying to the point that I couldn’t sleep or eat on the plane. A slight turbulence would make me cry. That was what happened when my good friend Pauleen and I flew to Boracay as a group a few years ago. There was a photo of me in front of her and we were both in tears.”

How did you overcome it?

“I did overcome it very fast, maybe because I have been traveling so often. The advice of my Binibini sister Ara (Arida, 2013 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe and third runner-up in that year’s Miss Universe pageant) was very helpful. She knew that I was a nervous flyer. It may sound weird what she said, ‘Mars, just think that you are commuting on a jeepney traveling on a rough road.’ So if there’s turbulence, I would imagine myself on the ground riding a jeepney, not 37,000 feet up in the sky. It helps, it works!”

Do you carry maybe a rosary or a medal or something that makes you feel safe?

“All the time. I always carry a rosary in my bag, a small Sto. Niño and a lucky charm that I got from a temple in Japan. There are kiosks there where you find all kinds of lucky charm…one for you to pass an exam, one for prosperity, one for a happy marriage and another for safe delivery…and I looked for one that was relevant to what I was aiming for, even before I joined Bb. Pilipinas pageant for the third time. I got a victory lucky charm. On pageant night, I got the lucky charm out of the case and held it tight. And I won! I did the same thing during the Miss Universe pageant, and I won! I still carry it around in my bag. Maybe it’s just in the head but I am the type who believes in lucky charms.”

I wonder, where do you get your energy for your hectic schedule?

“From coffee, hahahaha!!! And I like to talk. It’s natural with me. I like being asked questions. I don’t like to stay in my room with nobody to talk to. I freak out when I wake up and nobody is there. You know, ‘Good morning! Is anybody around?’ Basta, talk to me!”

By the way, how was your life like growing up  in Cagayan de Oro?

“It was very simple. It was a normal kind of childhood. My mom was looking after me. I was much closer to my dad at that time. I was a Daddy’s Girl. He would spoil me with Barbie Dolls, but he was a disciplinarian, very strict. He always checked my grades. You know, ‘Line of 80, that cannot be!’ So I was challenged to always do better.”

Your dad must be very happy that you are now Miss Universe?

“Oh, he passed away in 2013.”

Sorry to hear that. How has the Miss Universe crown changed your life so far?

“Not much. I feel the same, except that I have now more followers on my Instagram. Before the Miss Universe, all I had was 155. I checked that before the pageant. When I checked again, I already had 600,000. After I won, one million. Today, 1.6 million already. So I said, ‘Wow!’ Just that. Or maybe, I go around now with security guards. I’m still trying to get used to it.”

Has the way you look at life changed?

“I have to plan past my Miss Universe reign. I don’t want to pass my crown and suffer an identify crisis. You know, ‘What am I going to do now?’ I don’t want that to happen to me.”

So what are your plans?

“It’s been only a month since I won…Oh well, maybe if there are any offers in the US, why not? Yes, in showbiz.”

Or maybe you can resume your showbiz career here.

“Why not?”

On Saturday, Jan. 30, you are attending your friend Pauleen’s wedding. There will be two stars at that event.

“It’s Pauleen’s day, definitely!”

Come to think of it, when you get married, what kind of wedding would you want?

“I haven’t thought about it. But definitely, I don’t want a beach wedding.”

After your reign, will you finally open the door to the long line of suitors waiting for you?

“Ha? I don’t see the line! I don’t see anyone! Where are they? Hahahaha!!!”

You are going back to the US on Sunday, Jan. 31. Anything Filipino (tuyo, etc.) that you are bringing as baon?

“Pictures, memories, inspiration. When you’re away from home, you long to come back and gather new memories to get inspiration. When I leave, I want to bring with me the Filipino fighting spirit. Just because I won already doesn't mean I will forget that spirit. It will always be with me.”

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. You may also send your questions to [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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