A haphazard scrutiny and pragmatic dissertation on Philippine pageantry

IT has been weeks after the worldwide telecast of the Miss Universe 2015 staged at the Axis of Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas last December 20 which entailed an unprecedented brouhaha and yet the incident that caused a disreputable aftermath has totally lost its way out to oblivion… as if it was the only (ever) hullaballoo attached to a massively watched beauty pageant proceeding.
It should be recalled that it wasn’t only Steve Harvey who erroneously announced the pageant winner: there was Mrs. World 2006 where 1st Runner-up Mrs. Costa Rica was mistakenly crowned instead of the official winner who was Mrs. Russia. Then there was Brazil’s crown-grabbing incident during the Miss Amazon 2015 and the scandalous episode in Australia’s Next Top Model 2010 where a finalist was mistakenly announced the winner only to be retracted after minutes of ecstatic victory.
In short, crown switching, whether accidental or intentional, actually happens in live telecasts but the good news is, the dispute was peacefully resolved and the crown finally rested onto the head of its rightful owner.
What the viewers and avid pageant followers are totally uninformed about is the existence and origination of such beauty pageants and who are the moving forces behind the organizations. Allow me then, through my random research, to familiarize you with the background of every single pageant that belongs to the so-called “Big Four.”
In the Philippines, the “Big Four” of the major beauty pageants are regarded as annual must-see events that offer tremendous amount of pleasurable emotion among viewers and motivating inspiration for beauty queen aspirants. No wonder beauty pageants are inevitably constant fixtures held from key cities to far flung areas especially during regional fiestas.
In 2013 the Philippines became the first country to win in 5 major international beauty pageants (after Megan Young was crowned Miss World) with the inclusion of Miss Supranatural title to the “Big Four.”
It was indeed impressive that the Philippines won all 4 major titles in just a span of 3 years: 2013 Miss World (Megan Lynne Young),  2013 Miss International (Bea Rose Santiago), 2014 & 2015 Misses Earth (Jamie Herrell and Angelia Ong, respectively), and 2015 Miss Universe (Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach).
Looking back, let’s take a glimpse of a brief history of each organization in the “Big Four.”
Miss World History
Motto: “Beauty with a purpose.”
Regarded as the oldest surviving major international beauty pageant, the London-based Miss World was created by Eric Morley in the United Kingdom in 1951. Owned by Miss World Organization and currently co-chaired by Julia Morley, the beauty organization has already more than 100 franchises from different countries.
In 1966 the Philippines sent its first delegate, Miss RP Vivien Austria, to the Miss World pageant held at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, under the Miss Republic of the Philippines beauty pageant organization headed then by beauty pageant impresario Ferdie Villar.
The Miss World crown, for the Filipino pageant enthusiasts, was the most elusive among all “Big Four” beauty pageant titles giving us merely First Runner-up finishers: Evangeline Pascual in the 23rd edition in November 23,1973 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and recently, during the 61st edition in 2011, Gwendoline Ruais was closest to winning the title out of 113 entrants in November 6, 2011 at the Earls Court Exhibition Center in London.
But the most coveted title was finally bagged by Megan Lynne Young on September 28, 2013 in Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center in Bali, Indonesia.
Incidentally, in 1993, Sharmaine Ruffa Gutierrez was earlier crowned 2nd Princess but there were also 4th Runner-up fnishers that consoled Pinoy pageant fanatics: Arene Cecilia “Pinky” Amabuyoc in 1968, Maria Rafaela Yunon in 2003, and Maria Karla Bautista in 2004.
Currently, the new Miss World franchise was acquired in January 25, 2011 under Global Quest, Inc. which is owned by Cory Quirino.
The Crown: Through the years, since its inception, the Miss World crown had been changed eleven times. The original crown worn by its first winner, Venezuela’s Carmen Susana Duijim, seemed disposable and did not reflect as a major symbol of the pageant. After several redesigning attempts, the turquoise “Blue Crown” was finally dubbed the most iconic and longest used in the pageant.
A replica costing 75,000 pounds is issued to the winner which she uses in her travels and public appearances. However, the original crown is insured for over 2 million pounds.
Miss Universe History
Motto: “Confidently beautiful.”
What started as a mere local swimsuit competition organized by Catalina Swimsuit in 1952 in Long Beach, California was amazingly transformed into a huge worldwide beauty pageant participated in by savvy and goal oriented young women. Founded by Pacific Mills, a clothing company, the annual beauty contest is currently run by the Miss Universe Organization along with William Morris Endeavor and the Integrated Management Group (WME / IMG) with headquarters based in New York City.
The Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc. which owns the franchise for both Miss Universe and Miss International in the Philippines is spearheaded by Stella Araneta, who, herself, was a beauty titlist: the first ever Miss International from Colombia.
The Philippine delegate in 1969 Gloria Aspillera Diaz gave the Filipinos the first taste of the Miss Universe victory (July 19, 1969) during its 18th edition in Miami Beach, Florida that was shared with the astronauts’ first landing on the moon.
The sweet scent of Gloria’s conquest hadn’t completely faded and another inspiring win was brought by Margarita Moran during the pageant’s 22nd edition held on July 21, 1973 at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, Greece. Moran also garnered the Miss Photogenic award.
Then just recently, after 42 years of drought, the barren hopes were freshened with Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach’s victory over Miss Colombia. It was one significant conquest for the elusive crown that almost slipped off Pia’s head had it not for that instantaneously infamous rectification that would surely be concretely documented in the annals of the Miss Universe history.
The Crown: Miss Universe Organization commissioned Diamonds International Corporation (DIC), a Czech jewelry company, to design and execute the latest Miss Universe crown. Inspired by the Manhattan skyline that required the work of 10 people, the crown was composed of 311 pieces of diamonds, 5 pieces of blue topaz, 198 pieces of blue sapphire, 33 pieces of crystal, and 220 grams of gold and has a total net weight of 411 grams with a cost of 300 thousand US dollars. There’s no replica for the Miss Universe crown.
Miss International Histor
Motto: “Love, Peace, and Beauty”
The Miss International beauty pageant was formed in 1960 by the International Culture Association. Originally established in Long Beach, California after the Miss Universe Organization moved out for Miami, Florida, the contest was brought to Japan during its Expo ’70 international trade fair where it was permanently based since.
The ultimate goal of Miss International beauty pageant is to promote world peace, goodwill, and understanding among nations.
Bb. Pilipinas Charities holds the exclusive franchise of Miss International that sent the Philippine delegate, Gemma Cruz to the 6th edition held at the Municipal Auditorium in Long Beach, California. Gemma was the first Filipina to win the Miss International crown in August 13, 1965 besting 44 entrants.
Not long thereafter, on May 16, 1970 at the Exposition Hall Fairgrounds in Osaka, Japan, Miss Philippines International Aurora McKenney Pijuan snatched the title from among 47 aspirants during the contest’s 10th edition.
As if the road to the 19th edition of Miss International was smoothly paved for the Philippine delegate Mimilanie Laurel Marquez that she came out victorious over 43 contenders on November 12, 1979 in Mielparque, Tokyo, Japan.
There was a slight dearth that followed… 24 years to be exact before another Miss International crown was brought home by Precious Lara San Agustin Quigaman in September 26, 2005 when she assertively outdid 52 other entrants at the Koseinenkin Hall in Tokyo, Japan. An earlier bonus, Best in National Costume, was even won by Precious during the monumental 45th edition of the contest.
Bea Rose Monteverde Santiago bested 67 participants on December 17, 2013 (53rd edition) at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
The crown: Mikimoto, the world’s largest producer of cultured pearls with a product quality that is highly esteemed all over the world, is the official crown maker for Miss International. Easily identifiable from among the rest, the Miss International crown is quite iconic as it is unique… with white fur around the base and ribbons that secure the crown.
The Miss Earth History: Motto: “Beauties for a cause”
The Manila-based beauty pageant chooses a winner that becomes the spokesperson for Miss earth Foundation, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), and for various private sectors and the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).
The youngest among the “Big Four,” Miss Earth Foundation was founded in 2001 under Carousel Production, Inc. owned and run by Ramon Monzon and Lorraine Schuck, one time 2nd Runner-up in the 1979 Miss Asia Pacific International.
The pageant was held twice outside of its resident territory: first in Vietnam (2010) and then, Austria (2015). Although held in the Philippines it took 7 years before the country earned its first ever Miss Earth title on November 9, 2008 courtesy of Karla Paula Henry after besting 85 candidates in Expo Pilipino in Angeles City.
A back to back win for the Philippines transpired last year and this year when Jamie Herrell  was crowned Miss Earth 2014 at the UP Theater in Quezon City on November 29 and when Angelia Ong surprisingly snatched the same title on December 5, 2015 at the Marx Halle in Vienna, Austria.
Earlier, Miss Earth Philippines merely settled with 1 First Runner-up (Sandra Inez Seifert in 2009) and 2 Second Runner-ups (Catherine Untalan in 2006 and Athena Mae Imperial in 2011)
The Crown: The Swarovski crown from 2001 to 2008 was designed by Filipino jewelry designer Arnel Papa but a new crown was re-designed by Ramona Haar during its 9th edition. It is composed of black diamonds, Sardonyx, calcite, ruby, jade quartz, crystals, garnet, peridot, and pearls and costs 200 thousand US Dollars.
Miss Earth Air, Water, and Fire crowns are identical handcrafted 100% recycled sterling silver with distinct semi-precious stone features: red cubic zirconia for Fire (weighs 169 grams), blue cubic zirconia for Water (weighs 153.4 grams), and yellow cubic zirconia for Air (weighs 170 grams).
The never-ending acquisition of crowns and titles beyond the Big Four
Aside from the “Big Four” there are still the so-called 2nd-Tier beauty pageants where the Philippines has inexhaustibly participated in: Miss Tourism International (Macau), Miss Tourism International (Turkey), Miss Tourism International Black Sea (Ukraine) and Miss Tourism International (Malaysia). The Philippines had won all but the Malaysian version.
Then there’s Miss Supranational (Poland-based) which Mutya Datul won in Setember 6, 2013 and Miss Globe (Albania-based) won by Ann Lorraine Colis on October 8, 2015 at the Rose Theater Brampton in Toronto, Canada.
Just recently, Christi Lynn McGarry placed First Runner-up in the Miss Intercontinental 2015.
The list of newly established beauty pageant organizations goes on and on but seemingly the Philippines will never tire joining and winning them all.
And we’re just talking about female-oriented contests, but how about those of the males… and the gender in between?  Suffice it to say that the Filipinos have all the looks and guts and everything that it takes to be a pageant winner and consistently remains a threat to every pageant competitor.
For comments and suggestions, please email to: gemini0646@yahoo.com.

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