P-Noy, Pia swap congratulations
(The Philippine Star) - January 26, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - They swapped congratulations but skirted talk about any romantic links.

President Aquino personally congratulated Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach at Malacañang yesterday, and was congratulated in turn by the beauty queen for a “successful” term. 

Wurtzbach said she did not receive a text message from Aquino congratulating her when she won the Miss Universe crown in Las Vegas.

Instead she read a congratulatory message from Aquino on the government website.

Aquino’s youngest sister Kris had revealed that her bachelor brother found Wurtzbach attractive but she was not interested.

Wurtzbach said she was honored to meet Aquino again and was glad to have represented the country in the pageant.

“It’s an honor to be in the presence of the President, especially now that I am here as Miss Universe, bringing back home the crown for the Filipinos,” she told members of the Malacañang Press Corps at the Presidential Guest House.

Asked whether the President sent her any personal message either through SMS or email, the beauty queen said she learned about the congratulatory note through the government website .gov.ph.

“He sent a message through the website. I think it’s the official website of the government. I was able to read his congratulatory message there,” she said.

She said her ideal man is someone who is smart and with a good sense of humor.

“Those two qualities are important to me.”

Tax break           

The Senate will conduct hearings on a proposal seeking to exempt Wurtzbach’s earnings in the Miss Universe from taxes.

A similar proposal has been approved at the House of Representatives, which conferred the Congressional Medal of Distinction on the beauty queen.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee, said the Senate will do whatever it could, noting there are only four session days left before the lawmakers go into a break for the election campaign.

“I don’t think it’s so controversial,” Angara said when asked if the measure would not suffer a presidential veto like the SSS pension hike measure.

The tax break measure came in the wake of Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares’ statement that Wurtzbach has to pay the necessary taxes for her earnings as the reigning Miss Universe. 

The medal of distinction is the highest citation the House can give to an individual who brings honor to the nation.

The resolution citing Wurtzbach was authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales Jr. and Minority Leader and San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora.

“I know you have our country in mind when making laws. On that note, we have the same inspiration, the Philippines. So let’s continue confidently working with a heart for the Filipino people,” Wurtzbach said in a speech before receiving the House medal.

Two hours before she arrived at the House, the committee on ways and means approved a bill exempting her from paying taxes for her winnings from the pageant.

The committee passed the measure despite Wurtzbach’s statement that she is willing to pay the taxes required by government.

Belmonte said he is backing the bill, but noted that Wurtzbach had already declared she would pay taxes.

“I take off my hat to Pia because she is willing to pay taxes,” Belmonte said.

No endorsement

During the Palace courtesy call, Wurtzbach did not endorse any presidential candidate in the May elections, but she advised the country’s 54 million voters to vote wisely.

“I hope that we elect the right people because it’s going to shape the country for the next couple of years. Scrutinize carefully the candidates you are voting for,” she said.

“Vote not with a heavy heart. Be sure you are not coerced or under any pressure when you cast your votes,” she added in Filipino.

Speaking from the soul

In all her interviews, including the question-and-answer portion during the pageant, Wurtzbach said she always made it a point to speak from her soul.

“It’s always (from) the heart. I don’t really prepare for my answers. Even when I am in training, I don’t formulate a concrete answer because I might lose my train of thought when I am answering the question.”

She said she keeps the thought in her head, but she doesn’t memorize it word for word.

“When I answered ‘confidently beautiful with a heart,’ that came to me at that moment and luckily it was a hit,” Wurtzbach said, referring to her quote that trended and went viral on social media.

She said her homecoming has been a humbling experience, noting she reminisced what she went through before winning the Miss Universe title.

“It’s nice to be back home. It reminds me of everything that I had to go through to win the Miss Universe title. Seeing where I used to live, my trainers, the Binibining Pilipinas, the Philippines remind me of the journey, the steps I took toward getting here, I think that in itself is very humbling already.”

Selfie with special kids 

Seven children with special needs were lucky to have selfies with Wurtzbach when the Miss Universe visited the Quezon City hall yesterday afternoon.

Twelve-year-old Andrea Estrella of the General Roxas Elementary School said she was happy when they were told to go to the office of Mayor Herbert Bautista to see Wurtzbach.

The visually-impaired Estrella said Wurtzbach had selfies with them and allowed them to wear her Miss Universe sash even just for a short moment. 

“Nag-picture-picture po kami tapos may wacky photos pa po kami at kinumusta po niya kami,” Estrella said.

Estrella’s classmate Karl said he was lucky because Wurtzbach kissed and hugged him.

Bautista said the city government would partner with Wurtzbach in an HIV awareness campaign, noting QC been a pilot city of the United Nations for the global HIV/AIDS drive. He said Wurtzbach agreed to work with the city government.

 Super Bowl reporter

Wurtzbach confirmed that she would be a reporter for the Inside Edition of the Super Bowl.

She said she wasn’t able to reveal this during the Binibining Pilipinas press conference because Inside Edition had to be the first one to reveal it.

“I see it as a compliment because they won’t trust me with the microphone if they didn’t think that I could do well or speak well. I think that’s a great way to connect and meet with more people, and be recognized not just as a Miss Universe or Pia, but also as a Filipina.”  – Delon Porcalla, Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero, Alexis Romero, Mike Frialde, Robertson Ramirez

ACIRC ALEXIS ROMERO AQUINO BINIBINING PILIPINAS ESTRELLA MISS MISS UNIVERSE NBSP STRONG UNIVERSE WURTZBACH
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