This year’s Miss Universe Pageant is upon us. In just over a week, a new international beauty queen will inherit the crown currently worn by our very own Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. And it’s happening in Manila.
It was just months ago when a measly group of women sent a letter to the Miss Universe organizing committee asking that it reconsider holding the pageant in the Philippines, arguing that holding it in the country would “reward the objectionable, scandalous, and demeaning sexist attitude demonstrated by the newly elected leaders … and by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, and his cohorts toward womankind.”
The petitioners included prominent figures, such as Miss International 1970 titleholder Aurora Pijuan, former Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales, Black and White Movement convenor Leah Navarro, and prominent Fil-Am community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis.
Then, as late as a couple of weeks ago, Gabriela (Filipina women’s group) Rep. Arlene Brosas issued a statement opposing the hosting of the Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines, calling it an objectification of women and a cover-up of the country’s societal problems.
In a press conference, Brosas said the hosting was a “manipulative and deceptive tool that projects an image of peace and stability to cover up the creeping influence of fascist repression of poor women’s rising protests.”
While Politikal Pinoy respects the right of these Filipino and Filipino American women to express their political views, we also think that there are battles that are bound to fail from the very start.
This was a battle against a facet of Philippine culture that’s ingrained in our society’s psyche for as long as we can remember. You simply cannot mess with the Filipino flair for beauty pageants. We love our pageants and we love our beauty queens.
We’re not even just talking about Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Gloria Diaz or Margie Moran. We not only beam with pride at the achievements of Megan Young, Kylie Verzosa and many other international beauty titlists. We’re also talking about our queens in our annual town fiestas, our barangays, our schools, our places of work. And yes, even our Sunday Beauty Queens and Overseas Filipino Workers in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, as well as our muses of our Filipino associations in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world.
To take away beauty pageants from the Filipino is to take away his pride, sense of community, quest for bigger dreams, and fond memories of loved ones. I am sure there is just six degrees of separation between every Filipino and a beauty queen. My mom was a beauty queen long before she brought me into this world.
Today, contestants to this year’s Miss Universe pageant visited Baguio City. The outpouring of love and support was unbelievable. They all came: street dancers, school bands, military cadets, horses and horsemen, dogs and their companions. The city stood still, and classes were suspended.
I can’t imagine what I witnessed today being doused with cold water by the politics of a few.
There’s just one other name very popular with Filipinos right now — other than Rodrigo Duterte and Manny Pacquiao. That name is Miss Universe.
Politikal Pinoy hopes that a great lesson was learned. Sometimes, we just need to pick our battles.