Pia ends 42-year Miss Universe drought
(The Philippine Star) - December 21, 2015 - 9:01am

LAS VEGAS – Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach finally brought back the Miss Universe crown after a 42-year drought for the Philippines when Margie Moran won in 1973, the second Filipina to do so after Gloria Diaz in 1969.

The Colombian contestant was already wearing this year’s Miss Universe crown when host Steve Harvey returned to announce on live television that he had mistakenly read from a cue card, and that the contestant from the Philippines was actually this year’s winner.

In the following moments, the crown was removed and placed on the head of a mystified Wurtzbach, other contestants rushed to console Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo of Colombia and a sheepish Harvey felt compelled to apologize on Twitter and to reporters assembled backstage.

“I feel horrible for this young woman,” he said.

Harvey said it was his mistake and that he would take responsibility for not correctly reading the card, which said that Wurtzbach was this year’s winner and Colombia was actually the first runner-up.

He held up the card for Fox network cameras to see up close afterward. Talking with reporters afterward, Harvey and an executive for pageant owner WME-IMG called it human error.

“Nobody feels worse about this than me,” he said.

Wurtzbach appeared stunned as she walked to the front of the stage alongside the crown-wearing Arevalo before last year’s Miss Universe from Colombia removed the crown and placed it on Wurtzbach’s head.

Wurtzbach later said she felt conflicting emotions as the mistake happened: joy when she was told she had indeed won, concern for Arevalo and confusion at the whole situation.

Wurtzbach said she tried to approach Arevalo onstage afterward, but the Colombian was crying and surrounded by a crowd of women. She said she realized it was “probably bad timing.”

Jonas Gaffud, Pia’s manager who belongs to the Aces&Queens (the team that builds up beauty contestants), told The STAR in a phone interview that Pia did try to approach Miss Colombia to console her, “but she was already too busy answering questions during the post-pageant press conference. “Earlier,” said Gaffud, “Pia tried to approach Miss Colombia but a Miss U staffer pulled her so she could make her victory walk,” now with the crown perched firmly on her head. Other contestants circled around the near-tears Miss Colombia to console her.

“I did not take the crown from her,” Wurtzbach told reporters after the pageant concluded, saying she wished the contestant from Colombia well and hoped the Latin American community understands that “none of this was my fault.”

“None of this was done on purpose. It was an honest mistake,” she said, apologizing on behalf of the organization she now represents. She said Harvey told her afterward that she “should just enjoy the moment.”

In a blue gown by Filipino designer Albert Andrada, Pia was the epitome of grace under pressure as she answered the question in the Top 5 Q&A (each question was relevant to the prevailing issues in the candidates’ respective countries): “Earlier this year, there was a controversy in the Philippines about the United States reopening a base in your country. Do you think the United States should have a military presence in your country?”

Without missing a beat and with composure, Pia replied, “I think that the United States and the Philippines have always had a good relationship with each other. We were colonized by the Americans and we have their culture in our traditions even up to this day. And I think that we are very welcoming with the Americans and I don’t see any problem with that at all.”

And then, asked during the Top 3 final Q&A why she should be the next Miss Universe, she answered with confidence, “To be a Miss Universe is both an honor and responsibility. If I were to be Miss Universe, I will use my voice to influence the youth and I would raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness that is timely and relevant to my country which is the Philippines. I want to show the world, the universe rather, that I’m confidently beautiful with a heart.”

Three-year journey

A Filipino-German actress, model and beauty pageant titleholder, Wurtzbach was born in Stuttgart, Germany to a German father and a Filipino mother. But she claims Cagayan de Oro City in the Philippines, where she grew up, as her home. She speaks German, Filipino and English.

She has one sister who is two years younger. Wurtzbach finished her secondary education with the ABS-CBN Distance Learning Center and studied culinary arts at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies in Manila.

She worked as a cosmetics model. At the age of 11, under the screen name Pia Romero, she worked as an actress. She is currently a stylist and writer for the lifestyle section of a newspaper in the Philippines.

It was a three-year journey for Wurtzbach before she bagged the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 2015 title.

In 2013, she placed first runner-up to Ariella Arida. Wurtzbach tried her luck again the following year but she only landed among the top 15 semifinalists.

In an interview with The STAR for the Women of Allure special this year, Wurtzbach said: “I hope it was my charm that made me win in the Binibining Pilipinas competition this year.”

Knowing she had a winning chance, Wurtzbach kept trying.

“I didn’t think that I had to stop trying just because I didn’t make it initially. I tried to learn from each pageant so as not to make the same mistakes again,” she said.

She was once rumored as the apple of the eye of President Aquino. 

Even before Sunday night’s oops moment, the pageant was involved in another controversy when a backlash against the pageant’s former owner Donald Trump led Univision to pull out of the broadcast and the businessman to sell it in September.

The competition started with women representing 80 countries between the ages of 19 and 27. For the first time, viewers at home weighed in, with their votes being tallied in addition to four in-person celebrity judges.

NBCUniversal and Donald Trump co-owned the Miss Universe Organization until earlier this year. The real estate developer offended Hispanics in June when he made anti-immigrant remarks in announcing his Republican presidential run.

That led Spanish-language network Univision to pull out of the broadcast for what would have been the first of five years airing the pageants and NBC to cut business ties with Trump.

The former star of the “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show sued both companies, settling with NBC in September, which included buying the network’s stake in the pageants.

That same month, Trump sold the organization that includes the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants to entertainment company WME-IMG.

Shortly after Sunday night’s confusion, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted a message on his official account to Ariadna Gutierrez. “For us, you will continue being miss universe! We are very proud!”

In Manila, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda didn’t address the controversial win but said, “in bagging this victory, Ms. Wurtzbach not only serves as a tremendous source of pride for our people, but also holds up the banner of our women and of our country – as a true representative of what the Filipina can achieve.”

It is the third time a contestant from the Philippines has won the title. It could have been the second win in a row for Colombia.

The pageant’s contestant from the United States, Olivia Jordan, was named second runner-up.

The Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc. issued an official statement:

“Congratulations to Miss Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach for bagging the Miss Universe 2015 title at the competition held in Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, USA! Truly, she was a standout in an arena of over 80 beauties from all over the world. In the last Q&A portion, she stated that she should be the next Miss Universe winner because is confidently beautiful with a heart. Her victory is a testament of the world’s appreciation for Filipina beauty, grace and substance. Excellent job! It truly is a proud moment for our country.”



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