Never mind that host Steve Harvey mistakenly referred to people from the Philippines as Philippians. The recent brouhaha over the crowning of the wrong Miss Universe is a good time to reflect on other memorable beauty pageants for Filipinos. Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is not the first Miss Philippines to go on and win the coveted Miss Universe title. She is, in fact, the third, the other two being Gloria Diaz (1969) and Margarita Moran (1973).
While we’re at it, there’s an equally impressive line-up of winning misses from the Philippines who have also been crowned at other beauty pageants. To date, we’ve had one Miss World (Megan Young in 2013); and no less than five Miss Internationals (Gemma Cruz in 1974, Aurora Pijuan in 1970, Mimilanie Marquez in 1979, Precious Lara Quigaman in 2005, Bea Rose Santiago in 2013).
That’s nine beauty queens…and counting! Each one had more than 15 minutes of fame in the Philippines. They’ve inspired generations of capable young Filipinas not to be humble nurses and teachers, nor anonymous servants and nannies, but to aspire to fill out those swimsuits and evening gowns, and to weep copious tears of joy when it all pays off.
If Filipinos were downright ecstatic each time one of its pulchritudinous brown women hit the jackpot, they were upright orgasmic whenever one of its priapic brown men managed to bag a foreign beauty queen—e.g., when Virgilio Hilario married the first Miss Universe in 1952, Armi Kuusela of Finland; or when Jorge Araneta married the first Miss International in 1960, Stella Marquez of Colombia. And, of course, when President Ferdinand Marcos bedded Hollywood starlet Dovie Beams amidst much fanfare in 1968-1970, and then dumped her. Dovie Beams was one of 239 people subsequently credited in the cast of The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), in which she had a bit part as “the concubine.”
That’s how you get over colonialism. That’s progress. St. Paul couldn’t have said it better in his Epistle to the Philippians.