Steve Harvey takes center stage as he returns as Miss U host – this time sans mishaps (top). The top three – Colombia, France, and Haiti – decked in gold (above). Photo courtesy of DOT

One more look at the Miss Universe pageant
Patricia P. Esteves (The Philippine Star) - February 5, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  When the news was confirmed some time last year that the Philippines was finally and really – after some kinks were reported – hosting the 65th Miss Universe pageant in Manila, my colleagues at The STAR and I jumped for joy.  We were so excited to cover and write about the entire Miss Universe experience – from preliminaries to photo shoots to provincial visits and, of course, the grand coronation event. It has been over two decades since the county hosted the global beauty contest.

2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach said it was right that the pageant was held in Manila because we are the biggest fans of the Miss Universe contest. True. Like basketball, the beauty contest has become some sort of national past time, a craze where every matron in the beauty parlor or beer guzzling macho or gay stylist/designer turns into a beauty connoisseur ready to dissect and critique each beauty queen.

 

 

Four of us enthusiastically volunteered for the coverage, and accordingly applied for media accreditation. On the second week of January, I went to the Mall of Asia coral gate, after the organizers announced we could claim our IDs. A blonde woman asked for my name, but minutes later she said she couldn’t find me on the list. I tried not to panic.

Back at the office, phone calls were made to whoever we could think of that might help with our accreditation. Alas! the coveted media ID was even more elusive than the crown. What a bummer!

I later learned that the Miss U organization was overwhelmed to have received over 1,000 applications for media accreditation – from bloggers to print and broadcast journalists. During last year’s pageant, which was held in Washington, only 100 media people applied for accreditation, so it was easy. The organization reportedly could only accommodate 300. The STAR’s Nathalie Tomada was one of the lucky 300, having filed her application very early on.

Two of us though got the chance to watch the preliminaries where the candidates strutted the runway in their evening gowns, swimsuits and national costumes. It was a blast to be at the venue, to see the girls in their dazzling gowns and outrageous national costumes, but best of all, it was nice to root and cheer, along with other Filipinos, for our national bet Maxine Medina. It’s true what host Steve Harvey said: “Filipinos are the best fans.”

That was as close as I got to the 86 beauties, and I was glad for the experience. I had hoped for another windfall in the form of a ticket to the main event, the coronation last Monday, but alas again, it was not to be. Come Monday morning, I watched the pageant on television at home, in my pajamas, munching on popcorn and peanuts.

Still and all, it was a very good thing to have had the Miss Universe pageant here. Most would say the $15 million shelled out by the LCS Group to stage the event was worth it, both in the short- and the long-term.

“The Philippines is the runaway winner in this prestigious international event. Our islands, food and the biggest smiles of our people are all over the news and social media these past few weeks. The world now knows how beautiful our islands are, how delectable our cuisines are and how friendly and warm Filipinos are – just ask the Miss Universe candidates themselves,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo enthused.

Indeed, from Boracay to Baguio to Batangas, from Vigan to Davao and all around Metro Manila, the country was on show to the world, as beautiful as the 86 women vying to be declared the most beautiful woman in the universe.

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