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A look back at the 65th Miss Universe candidates’ memorable Philippine experience

The Miss Universe competition kicks-off at S Maison where 11 of the 86 candidates flew in from different parts of the globe

Reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach cannot be prouder of the Filipino hospitality as the Miss Universe Organization and the 86 candidates of tomorrow’s grand coronation continue to heap praises for the country and its people.

Recalling how there was not much for her batch of candidates to do when she represented the Philippines at the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas, USA in January 2016, the titleholder is very grateful for all the support both the government and private sector have given through the jam-packed run-up to the 65th Miss Universe pageant at the SM Mall of Asia on January 30. Travelling by land, sea and air, she and the candidates have truly experienced the beauty of the Philippines from Luzon to Visayas, Mindanao and back, proving why it is “more fun” this side of the world.

As the candidates of tomorrow’s pageant prepare for what could be the most important day of their lives, The Sunday Times Magazine sends them off to the competition with a beautiful look back on their Philippine experience that has certainly been fit for any queen.


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December 10: The kick-off

The Philippine hosting of the 65th Miss Universe competition officially started with a kick-off event on December 10 at S Maison Mall of Conrad Hotel at the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City. Reigning titleholder and Philippine pride Pia Wurtzbach together with eleven candidates who flew in from different parts of the globe graced the event as well as enjoyed special activities in select locations during the five-day promotional wave. The beautiful ladies who had the pleasure of visiting the country ahead of their fellow candidates were 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, Miss Myanmar Htet Htet Htun, and Miss China Li Zhenying.

They headed out to the surfing capital of the Philippines and savored the pristine andwell-preserved paradise of the South on December 11

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo (third from left) and the early batch of Miss Universecandidates at the Lights and Sounds Museum in Intramuros, Manila on December 12

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January 7 to January 14: The candidate arrivals

Candidates to the much-anticipated Miss Universe 2016 pageant arrived in the country over a week-long period to the daily delight of airport personnel and passengers. Miss US Virgin Islands Carolyn Carter was first to land on Philippine soil on January 7, followed by the rest of her beautiful peers at all hours of day and night. The beauties were welcomed by the Miss Universe Host Committee with alternating representatives in DOT Assistant Secretaries Daniel Mercado and Frederick Alegre and Undersecretary Kat De Castro, Falconi Millar and Benito Bengzon; and Okada Manila Assistant Director Ines Kola.

(From left) MissSweden Ida Ovmar,Miss Bolivia AntonellaMoscatelli, Miss SpainNoelia Freire, MissBulgaria ViolinaAncheva, MissDenmark ChristinaMikkelsen, and MissKosovo Camila Barrazaarrived at January 13

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January 14: Boracay getaway

Of course they had to go to Boracay. Known as one of the world’s best beaches, the Miss Universe contestants visited the white sand island where they enjoyed the waters with a boat ride, and interacted with the locals, learning to weave indigenous materials and build fish houses

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January 15: Trying the ‘terno’ in Vigan

Twenty Miss Universe candidates experienced donning the traditional Filipiniana terno designed by both Manila-based and Ilocano couturiers at a unique fashion show along Vigan’s famed Calle Crisologo. It was a virtual trip back in time, in beautiful style.

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January 16: The Governor’s Ball

In an event like no other, the proponent of holding the Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines, former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, organized a black tie affair and red carpet fundraiser to formally welcome all 86 candidates of the world’s most prestigious beauty contest in the Philippines. Each plate was sold between P18,000 to P25,000 for the benefit of Pass It Forward charities at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. Manila’s high society, several politicians, business leaders and showbiz celebrities attended the by-invitation-only affair to mingle with the most beautiful women of the world.

Reigning Queenof the UniversePia Wurtzbacharrives at theball with MissUniverseOrganizationpresident PaulaShugart andhost ChavitSingson

Eighty-six of the ‘most beautiful women in the universe’ baskin the warm welcome of the Philippines

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January 17: Swimsuits in Cebu

Not even the intermittent weather dampened the Sinulog’s festive spirit when the candidates arrived in the Queen City of the South for the much-awaited ancillary event of the 65th Miss Universe competition—the swimsuit presentation.

The show went on even if the sun failed to shine on the beautifulladies as Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark in Lapu-Lapu City wereever ready with a catwalk for the competition highlight

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January 18: Blooms in Baguio; advocates in Manila

Pia Wurtzbach along with 28 other candidates arrived in the City of Pines, delighted by the scent of flowers and the festive sound of Cordillera music, for a grand parade, as well as community based activities such as this weaving demo from indigenous artists in the summer capital

Wurtzbach given an honorary necklace by the Cordillera Women Empowerment Group in recognition symbolizing her beauty and intellect at a gala dinner at Baguio Country Club

Some 56 candidates of the pageant participated in an anti-hungeradvocacy, packing meals for indigent and pregnant women ofPampanga organized by the Rice Against Hunger at Conrad Hotel

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January 19: Island hopping\

Reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach enjoying with this batch of bets en route to Batangas

Twenty-eight candidates walked the runway dressed by Davao-based designers and noted couturier Renee Salud in a fashion event dubbed, ‘Mindanao Tapestery,’ highlighting woven materials from by tribeswomen down south

Miss Universe candidates pose for a souvenir shot with Singson before boarding thel atter’s private yacht Happy Life for island hopping

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January 20: Joining Smile Train and MAC causes

The young beneficiaries of Smile Train enjoyed a special treat as Pia Wurtzbach along with a group of candidates visited them in a Miss Universe Organization-supported activity aimed at raising awareness for free cleft lip reconstructive surgeries

Solar Entertainment, which holds the rights in distributing pageant activities for airing, held a luncheon in honor of the women of the moment

Wurtzbach, who pledged on her coronation night to advocate HIV and AIDS awareness, joined cosmetic brand Mac’s Viva Glam event for the cause

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January 21: Okada Manila Dinner

The candidates led by the Philippines’ three Miss Universe title holders, Gloria Diaz, Margie Moran and Pia Wurtzbach were toasted by host committee Okada Manila at a banquet in the country’s newest entertainment and leisure destination

Wurtzbach, who pledged on her coronation night to advocate HIV and AIDS awareness, joined cosmetic brand Mac’s Viva Glam event for the cause

* * *

January 23: Courtesy Call at Malacañang; National Gift Auction

President Rodrigo Duterte receive 84 candidates at the Malacañang Palace for a courtesy call and gladly pose for a photograph with the ladies, saying, “I hope this day will never end.” Joining the Chief Executive who was on his best behavior at the courtesy call were Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo, Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart, former Governor Chavit Singson, and several cabinet secretaries

Manila’s diplomatic corps hosted the candidates to a night of goodwill and charity during the Miss Universe’s National Gift Auction, where prized items from the queens were showcased for a live bidding. In true Miss Universe spirit, proceeds of the event all went to charity

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January 26: Preliminary Competition

Live from the Mall of Asia Arena, the 65th Miss Universe’s 86 candidates competed in the Swimwear and Long Gown Competitions before a panel of judges to earn preliminary scores. Their performance on this show-worthy night have been added to individual interview scores the previous days in order to determine the Top 12 finalists. The event was hosted by reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach and top Philippine celebrity Derek Ramsay.

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