The very first time the Miss Universe pageant was held in Manila in 1974 was a big event, not only for Filipinos living in the throes of Martial Law but also for people in the region as it was the first time that the most popular beauty contest was being held in Asia.
Then 17-year-old Guadalupe Sanchez was plucked out of International School to join Binibining Pilipinas, and true enough, she was crowned to represent the Philippines in the pageant held in the country for the first time that year.
There were 65 candidates, up by four from the previous year. Sanchez made it to Top 12. Miss Spain Amparo Muñoz, an actress in her native country, was crowned by Margie Moran as the new Miss Universe – beating Miss Wales Helen Morgan, Miss Finland Johanna Raunio, Miss Colombia Ella Escandon and Miss Aruba Maureen Ava Vieira – for the title.
Except Escandon, the Top 5 returned to Manila to make movies – with two of them got smitten by Filipino lotharios – Raunio by Raul Roa and Vieira by Philip Ysmael.
Filipinas in the rest of ‘70s
In 1975, Rose Marie Brosas made waves with her charm and dimpled cheeks when she made it to Top 5 in San Salvador, El Salvador, the first time Miss Universe was held in Latin America.
However, her unconvincing answer to the final question – “If you become Miss Universe 1975, what one individual other than your parents would have made the greatest contribution to your success and why?” – was met coldly, almost in disdain, when she said, “Well, I think it would be the judges, because they were the ones who voted for me if I won Miss Universe.”
Anne Marie Pohtamo of Finland won the title but it was 1972 Miss Universe Kerry Anne Wells of Australia who crowned her, as Muñoz resigned from her duties, and the Miss Universe Inc. did not assign a successor.
Elizabeth De Padua was the Philippine representative when Israel’s Rina Messenger was crowned Miss Universe in Hong Kong in 1976.
In 1977, Anna Lorraine Kier bannered the Philippines in the 26th edition of the pageant which was won by Janelle Commissiong of Trinidad and Tobago, becoming the first black Miss Universe.
Jennifer Cortez was the county’s representative in 1978, won by Margaret Gardiner of South Africa.
Criselda Cecilio, who later joined the movies opposite Fernando Poe Jr., was the Philippine candidate in the contest held in Perth, Australia. Maritza Sayalero of Venezuela won the title.
Filipinas in ‘80s
Maria Rosario Silayan, daughter of veteran actor Vic Silayan, was the country’s representative to the Miss Universe Pageant in 1980, held in Seoul, South Korea. She placed 3rd Runner-Up to USA’s Shawn Weatherly, who became the fifth American winner. First Runner-Up was Linda Gallagher of Scotland, 2nd Runner-Up New Zealand’s Diana Nottle, and 4th Runner-Up was Eva Brigitta Andersson of Sweden.
Silayan pursued an acting career right after her reign as Binibining Pilipinas-Universe and became one of the most popular actresses both on TV and the movies. She died at the age of 46 on April 23, 2006 due to colon cancer.
In 1981, Maria Caroline Mendoza represented the Philippines in the pageant held in New York City. Irene Saez of Venezuela won the title.
Model Maria Isabel Lopez [who later became very controversial, doing bold movies but still a popular actress until this day]competed in 1982. Karen Baldwin of Canada won.
In 1983, Rosita Capuyon represented the country, with Lorraine Downes of New Zealand crowned as new Miss Universe.
The Philippines went back to the winning circle when Desiree Verdadero placed 3rd Runner-Up to Yvonne Ryding of Sweden in 1984. South Africa’s Leticia Snyman was First Runner-Up, Venezuela’s Carmen Maria Montiel was 2nd Runner-Up and the 4th Runner-Up was Susan Lemaitre of Colombia.
Joyce Ann Burton was the country’s representative in 1985, won by Deborah Carthy-Deu of Puerto Rico. In 1986, Violeta Asela Naluz wore the Philippines sash. Barbara Palacios won the crown that year.
Geraldine Edith Asis was one of the most popular candidates in the pageant held in Singapore in 1987, more than a year after the People Power Revolution which swept Corazon Aquino to power, becoming the first woman President of the Philippines. Asis managed to get into Top 10. The winner was Cecilia Bolocco of Chile.
The Philippines was shut out next six years—1988 to 1993—represented by Perfidia Limpin, Sara Jane Paez, Germelina Leah Padilla, Maria Lourdes Gonzalez, Elizabeth Berroya, and Melinda Joanna Gallardo, respectively.
Winners were Porntip Nakhirunkanok of Thailand in 1988, Angela Visser of Netherlands in 1989, Mona Grudt of Norway in 1990, Lupita Jones of Mexico in 1991, Michelles McLean of Namibia in 1992, and Dayanara Torres of Puerto Rico in 1993 – who came back and became a popular movie and TV personality in the Philippines after relinquishing her crown in the pageant held in Manila for the second time.
Sources: www.missuniverse.com, wikipedia