Tourism Undersecretary Katherine de Castro said the efforts of the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) had been geared toward the empowerment of women to build their confidence.
JOY TORREJOS
DOT: Miss U pageant to boost women empowerment
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - January 13, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Tourism (DOT) yesterday slammed critics opposed to the holding of the Miss Universe pageant in the country.

Tourism Undersecretary Katherine de Castro said the efforts of the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) had been geared toward the empowerment of women to build their confidence.

De Castro took exception to criticisms made by women’s group Gabriela, which said the hosting of the Miss Universe pageant in the country is a “manipulative and deceptive tool that projects an image of peace and stability to cover up the creeping influence of fascist repression of poor women’s rising protests.”

Gabriela cited the litany of problems that the country faces that should be addressed properly instead of focusing on preparations for the pageant.

“We (the DOT) respect their opinions on it. I just hope that Gabriela would also realize that through the years, Miss Universe has been empowering a lot of modern women. That’s why their tagline is ‘Confidently Beautiful,’” De Castro said.

De Castro announced the 65th Miss Universe pageant this month would feature “Women on the Move” event, a tribute to different figures of feminism and women empowerment in the Philippines.

She said the ancillary event would be held on Jan. 23 in Manila.

De Castro also highlighted MUO’s decision to have American plus-size model Ashley Graham as the backstage host during the pageant’s coronation event.

“Basically, they’re trying to teach women all over the world that despite or however you look, whatever body shape you have, as long as you’re confident, then obviously, you can be beautiful in that way,” she said.

Meanwhile, De Castro said a preliminary event – consisting of the swimwear competition, national costume festival and long gown competition – will also be held before the main event.

“There will be a preliminary event. This is where they judge all the girls. It’s going to be a competition already. And then that will determine who will be the top 15, which will be announced on the coronation show,” she said.

De Castro said fans could also expect a lot of updates regarding Steve Harvey’s co-host, the judges and performers in the coming days as MUO president Paula Shugart has already arrived in the country.

“Basically, we in the DOT are taking care of all the major and provincial events. We’re making sure of the security and that the event will feature all the provinces that we are proud of,” she said.

De Castro also confirmed reports that the security arrangement during last Monday’s Feast of the Black Nazarene would be implemented for the duration of the candidates’ stay in the country.

“We’re basically following the same (security) template. There would be a few modifications because the security is looking after 87 candidates,” De Castro said.

Most of the candidates arrived yesterday, with 30 more expected to arrive today.

Officials are expecting at least 247 foreigners – including the candidates, organizers and the board of judges in the pageant.

Some of the candidates will proceed to Boracay tomorrow for their first ancillary event.

The police Highway Patrol Group (HPG) is handling traffic management and security for the convoy of the contestants and officials of the event.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said one police escort would be provided for every four candidates.

Senior Supt. Emmanuel Licup, commander of the Task Force Operation Miss Universe, assured contestants and pageant officials of their safety and security. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM
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