Filipinos just love beauty pageants. Along with boxing, cockfighting, and basketball, watching beauty contests is inarguably one of the nation’s favorite pastimes. And the joy of glorifying beauty doesn’t end on TV. From Ms. Gay to Ms. Senior Citizen, there are just so many ways Filipinos can appreciate beauty.
But what is really about beauty contests that left Filipinos asking for more?
Perhaps it’s the country’s impressive Ms. Universe feat in the past few years. Or maybe we believe that winning international beauty pageants is also putting our country’s name on the map. Either way, our fascination for beauty queens is something worth exploring.
In the meantime, let’s walk down memory lane and remember some of the most fascinating but lesser-known facts about Pinay beauty queens. Here are some of them:
5. The first Miss Philippines
In 1964, bank teller-turned-beauty queen Ma. Myrna Elizabeth Sese Panlilio became the first Binibining Pilipinas in history. It was a great milestone but technically, the first Miss Philippines was crowned way back in 1926.
Anita Agoncillo Noble, a 20-year-old student from Lemery, Batangas, became a beauty queen when the title “Miss Philippines” was first introduced. It’s interesting to note that Anita also came from a historically significant family. Her mother, Maria Agoncillo, was a relative of Felipe Agoncillo, Maria (Emilio Aguinaldo’s second wife), and Marcela, one of the people who made the first Philippine flag. [Image source: http://manilacarnivals.blogspot.com]
4. Beauty queen turned Senator
Known as the “original sweetheart of the Philippine Senate”, Maria Kalaw Katigbak first entered the politics in 1961. But unknown to many, Maria was also a former beauty queen.
At a tender age of 19, Maria was crowned Manila Carnival Queen in 1931. The said event was part of an annual festivity organized to celebrate U.S.-Philippine relations. Even at a young age, Maria already proved that she was the quintessential “beauty and brains”. She was a high school valedictorian at Philippine Women’s University and a Magna cum laude for her Doctor of Philosophy degree (Social Sciences) at University of Santo Tomas. [Image source: http://www.anvilpublishing.com]
3. Second time’s a charm?
Long before Janine Tugonon lost and eventually won the Miss Universe-Philippines crown, Elvira Gonzales already started the trend. She was the first Binibining Pilipinas candidate who joined the contest twice: in 1964 and 1965. But unlike Janine Tugonon, Elvira only ended up a runner-up in both attempts. Luckily, her daughter Charlene Gonzales continued her dream and eventually seized the much-coveted crown in 1994, making them the first mother-and-daughter tandem to ever compete in the same beauty pageant. [Image source: missosology.info ]
2. The “falling” beauty queen
Losing in a contest is one thing but failing to win a crown then falling from the stage afterwards is something else. That’s called double whammy. Sadly, this is the fate that Criselda Cecilio met during the 1979 Miss Universe.
Shortly after Maritza Sayalero of Venezuela was crowned, dozens of other contestants as well as members of the press rushed towards the stage to congratulate her. Due to overloading, a part of the catwalk collapsed, causing injuries to 20 contestants. Criselda Cecilio suffered bruises from the accident alongside Tahire Dermitan of Turkey, Carla Franco of Costa Rica, among others. [Image source: http://missosology.info]
1. Pinay beauty queen turned down Ms. World crown
Evangeline Pascual could have been the first Asian to won Miss World in 1979 had she not refused to accept the crown. But as it turned out, Evangeline had all the right reasons for letting it go. Held at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the 1973 Miss World pageant ended up in a tie between Evangeline and Miss USA Marjorie Wallace. The latter eventually won but dethroned months later for failing to fulfill her responsibilities.
Evangeline was then offered to take over the crown but refused to do so. Subsequent interviews revealed that she turned it down because she thought the competition was unfair to Asian candidates. Besides, she would also not get the same prize that Wallace won if she accepted the offer.[Image source: http://www.veestarz.com]
Behind every first crown was a Pinoy husband
Remember Virgilio Hilario? Turns out, he was not the only Filipino who captured the heart of an international beauty queen. In fact, aside from Hilario (who married the first Miss Universe titlist Armi Helena Kuusela in 1953), there were also Jorge Araneta and Jose Faustino.
Araneta was married to no less than Stella Marquez Zawadski, a stunning Colombian who became the first Miss International in 1962. Faustino, on the other hand, brought to the altar Angela Filmer, a Malaysian beauty who was crowned as the first Miss Asia in 1965. The said pageant was sponsored by the Philippine Cycling Association, the reason why it was not recognized as the first Miss Asia-Pacific Quest which started in 1968.
About the Author: Luisito E. Batongbakal Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of FilipiKnow. He has a fetish for local trivia, unsolved mysteries, and all things creepy. Follow him on Instagram.