21 December 2015

Pia Wurtzbach is 3rd Filipina Ms. Universe; and Steve Harvey’s Colossal Mix-up


To err is human, yes… But for Steve Harvey to erroneously announce Colombia as the 2015 Ms. Universe is arguably the mother of all fuck-ups. Excuse the French.

I feel for Harvey, really! On the other hand, as Colombia and Philippines clasped each other’s hands, he delayed announcing the new Ms. Universe for the looooooooooooongest time; and I literally held my breath while he did so.

In any of those 30 seconds or so when he teased the audience by being overly suspenseful, he could have sneaked a peek at the results card just to be absolutely sure that he would be making the correct announcement.

Hence, any sympathies I feel for him are also tempered down by annoyance that his mistake was really self-inflicted and honestly quite, quite stupid. And that is putting it lightly…

With that singular mistake, he also unwittingly created the mother of all awkward moments. There was Colombia, the crown on her head, savouring her nation’s seeming back-to-back victories in arguably the world’s most prestigious beauty pageant.

Since we had already won two Ms. Earth titles in a row, I was thinking to myself, tough luck it is the year of the back-to-back; but the second one came at the expense of our own Pia Wurtzbach.

But the moment Harvey trudged heavy footed to the centre of the stage and said, “Ok folks, I have to apologise,” I instinctively knew that we had actually won it. I mean, it was France whom I was wary of not only because hers was a dark and exotic beauty but also that her reply during the Q&A would rouse the sympathy vote.

I was worried for a while that Pia’s answer to her question – a tricky one about American military presence in the Philippines – let us say could have been better. What is it about beauty queens that they feel they have to answer instantaneously?

And what is it about our girls that they seem to dread using interpreters? At the very least, they buy a bit of time to think more profoundly; not to mention promote Philippine languages.

At any rate, when Colombia, the USA and Philippines were announced as the last three, I felt that the long wait since Margie Moran’s win in 1973 was finally over. USA, I thought, was merely the annual hometown decision. That Colombia would make it two in a row, I felt, was probably a long shot.

Therefore, I thought that the title was finally ours.

After Gloria Diaz won in 1969, followed four years later by Margie Moran, I thought that the Ms. Universe was a title that surely we would be winning every few years. Although we have had a few near misses, and especially so in the last few years, in fact those born the same year Margie Moran won the crown are now 42 years old.

Well, the long wait is indeed over; albeit under the most controversial of circumstances. Harvey’s mistake created an awkward moment when Colombia’s jubilation shockingly turned into despair; and to have the crown removed only minutes after it was placed on her head by the outgoing Ms. Universe was embarrassing.

I felt for her; but she was not the only one robbed. Colombia will naturally be feeling that her nation was robbed of a back-to-back title.

On the other hand, we were also all robbed of that moment of jubilation that would have been a fitting end to 42 years of waiting. In the end, it was all very anti-climactic.

Full credit to Pia Wurtzbach, when she was announced as the correct Ms. Universe, any celebrations for her were respectfully muted in deference to what Colombia must have been going through at that very moment.

For her respectfulness, poise and dignity, she was already every bit the Ms. Universe!

These days, international beauty pageants are so dime-a-dozen that I give most of them no more than the cursory glance. Those of my generation probably keep an eye out for just three pageants: the Ms. World, the Ms. International and the Ms. Universe.

Of these, at least to my mind, the Ms. Universe is the most prestigious and certainly the one I look out for annually. Thus, to be robbed of that moment of sheer jubilation after what has been an eternity of waiting because of an emcee who did not have the common sense to check his card, well that is just so unfair.

At any rate, we are Filipinos. We smile through the Landos and the Nonas that come our way. What is one Steve Harvey?

All I can say is, “Yes!!!!!!” The Ms. Universe is a Filipina!!!


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