When it was announced that the 2016 Miss Universe pageant will be held in the Philippines, the whole country erupted into frenzy. After all, as Wurtzbach told Rogue, Filipinos are crazy about the three B’s: basketball, boxing, and beauty pageants. It’s true. Beauty queens often enjoy acting and hosting gigs, and are celebrities in their own right. We stay up in the wee hours of the morning to watch the coronation night (like in 2013 when Arida represented the country in Moscow), and we get starstruck when we see them.
As the country hosts the Miss Universe for the third time, we look back at history and applaud the 22 Filipinas who placed at the pageant:
1. 1954: Blesilda Ocampo, Semi-Finalist
The first Filipina title-holder for the Miss Universe pageant is Blesilda Ocampo, the mestiza beauty who studied Architecture at the University of Santo Tomas (like 2011’s Shamcey Supsup). During the Miss Philippines coronation night, Ninoy Aquino was her escort. After the pageant in Long Beach, California, Ocampo was offered to work as a showgirl, but she flew back to the Philippines to finish her architecture degree. She became a licensed architect. In 2006, she also became commissioner of the EDSA People Power Commission.
2. 1963: Lalaine Bennett, 3rd Runner Up
Bennett ended the nine-year Miss Universe drought by being crowned 3rd runner up. The actress, who starred in Ligaw na Daigdig, continued her showbiz career after the pageant, but she ended it the same year after marrying Felix Skievasky, an American naval officer with Filipino-Polish roots, who was also her escort at the Miss Universe.
3. 1965: Louise Vail Aurelio, Semi-Finalist
The American mestiza Aurelio Vail changed her name to Louise Vail Aurelio to make herself more Filipino. She is the first winner of the Binibining Pilipinas pageant to place at Miss Universe, as Ocampo and Bennett were crowned locally by the Miss Philippines pageant.
4. 1966: Maria Clarinda Soriano, Semi-Finalist
This Bacoor beauty is a nursing graduate from the University of the East.
5. 1969: Gloria Diaz, Miss Universe
Gloria Diaz made history for being the country’s first Miss Universe winner. Part of the Gloria Diaz canon is her clever answer during the Q&A: When asked what she would do to entertain a man who has just returned from the moon, she said, “Oh, just the same things I do. I think if he has been on the moon for so long, I think when he comes over he wants to change, I guess.” After her win, she continued her acting career, and is one of the most respected actresses today.
6. 1972: Armi Barbara Crespo, Semi-Finalist
The dusky Filipina beauty was a mass communications student when she joined the Miss Universe in Puerto Rico. She mentioned that astrology was her hobby. Did she foresee that she would join the pageant?
7. 1973: Margarita Moran, Miss Universe
Margie Moran scored another coup for the Philippines when she won the Miss Universe crown, just four years after Diaz. Moran has an interesting story: prior to joining the pageant, she has already modeled for Auggie Cordero, a fashion icon who has created supermodels. Moran is also the granddaughter of former president Manuel Roxas. After her stint as the Miss Universe, Moran finished her Business Administration degree in Miriam College and Boston University, then took her master’s at the University of London. She addressed peace and livelihood for the Mindanao Commission on Women Organization, and poverty as ambassador-trustee of Habitat for Humanity Philippines. She now runs Ballet Philippines.
8. 1974: Guadalupe Sanchez, Semi-Finalist
For the first time in Miss Universe history, the pageant was held in Manila at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Our bet was Guadalupe Sanchez, a 17 year old student from International School Manila. Comedian Giselle Sanchez once told columnist Ricky Lo that Sanchez’s mom called her “Guada Suplada” because she only smiled during the pageant. When Sanchez met her in Beijing in 2008, she was an events producer, and was actually “sweet and nice.”
9. 1975: Rose Marie Brosas, 4th Runner Up
Rose Marie, or Chiqui, was a last-minute entry to the Binibining Pilipinas pageant, but the judges were so smitten that she won the Miss Photogenic and Best in Swimsuit awards. During the Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador, she was asked who made the greatest contribution to her success if she won. Brosas answered, “Well, I think it would be the judges because they were the ones who voted for me if I won Miss Universe.” Months after the pageant, she scored another victory when she made Muhammad Ali fall in love with her when she was a round girl at the Thrilla in Manila, his legendary match against Joe Frazier.
10. 1980: Maria Rosario Rivera Silayan, 3rd Runner Up
Maria Rosario, more popularly known as Chat, was the daughter of movie actor Victor Silayan. She celebrated her 20th birthday during the coronation night in South Korea, and host Bob Barker asked the audience to sing. Silayan became a favorite when she thanked the crowd in Korean. Chat is regarded as the beauty queen who revived the serpentina gown, a tight-fitting bodice which flared at the hem.