Following the arrival of several candidates from around the world, organizers of the upcoming Miss Universe pageant in Manila held its official kick off event at Conrad Hotel’s S Maison Mall at the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City.
A total of 10 beauties graced the welcome party, namely Miss USA Deshauna Barber, Miss Japan Sari Nakazawa, Miss Australia Caris Tiivel, Miss New Zealand Tania Pauline Dawson, Miss Korea Jenny Kim, Miss Thailand Chalita Suansane, Miss Malaysia Kiran Jassal, Miss Vietnam Dang Thi Le Hang, Miss Indonesia Kezia Warouw, and Miss Myanmar Htet Htet Htun. Miss China Li Zhenying was unable to attend the grand kick-off but is expected to join the rest of the candidates in their weeklong promotional activities around the Philippines.
Playing host for the evening were Department of Toursim Secretary Wanda Teo, and Miss Universe Philippines Maxine Medina, along with Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart will be joining the other girls for a week to enjoy adventurous places and activities in Siargao, Intramuros, and Oslob, Cebu.
Said Shugart in her opening address, “This is a dream come true, not just for Pia [Alonzo Wurtzbach, the reigning Filipina Miss Universe], but it’s a dream come true for me too. We only have 11 [candidates]in this kick-off [event]but imagine next month when we’re going to have over 90 contestants from all over the world, who are going to see the Philippines and this incredible hospitality. From January 30th, everyone is going to know the Philippines and I’m so proud to be part for it.”
In response, Wurtzbach said she is extremely happy that the most-watched pageant around the world will take place in her home country, especially since she will be turning over her crown.
“I’m just really grateful that the pageant is finally happening here. It just started with an idea, and I asked Paula if it was OK for me to say in my next interviews and hometown visits that we would like to host the next Miss Universe pageant here. And now, here we are! Thank you to everyone who made this possible. It’s not only a dream for the Miss Universe Organization but also a dream of mine to bring back the competition here, and to show the world how beautiful the Philippines is,” enthused the reigning queen.
The Philippines played host to the Miss Universe pageant twice—the first in 1974 at the Folk Arts Theater Manila, which was also the first time the competition was held in Asia. And like Wurtzbach, the reigning Miss Universe back then was the Philippines’ Margie Moran who crowned her successor Amparo Muñoz of Spain. The second Philippine staging of the pageant was in 1994 at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center, where Sushmita Sen of India was crowned Miss Universe by Dayanara Torres of Puerto Rico, a first time win for the seventh largest nation in the world.
“It would be great if I could have a proper walk in no less than my country of course,” the third Miss Universe from the Philippines also said. It will be remembered that she was robbed of her Miss Universe moment when American host Steve Harvey mistakenly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutiérrez as the winner in December 2014.
“I’m not quite ready to give up my sash yet; I think I’m attached to already,” she added joking. “But I wish all the candidates good luck and I’m very excited for what’s in store for them. Because this is just the beginning—it’s only December so we will definitely keep the momentum going until pageant night.”
Hosted by Miss Universe 2011 3rd Runner-up Shamcey Supsup and GMA Network actor Benjamin Alves, Saturday night’s gathering also saw the team of LCS Group chairman and former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, who is bank rolling the entire event.
The 65th Miss Universe coronation night will be held on January 30, 2017 at the Mall of Asia Arena.