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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Miriam Quiambao's Fate at Miss Universe

Almost but not quite – but good enough just the same.
Miriam Quiambao’s winning as 1st runner up in the 1999 Miss Universe Pageant (with Miss Botswana as the winner and Miss Spain as 2nd runner up) is the closest a Filipina ever got to again bagging the title since 1973 (26 years ago) when Margie Moran brought home the bacon, so to speak, for the second time (from Greece where the Miss Universe was held that year), only four years after Gloria Diaz (the first Filipina Miss Universe) got it in Miami Beach, Florida, in 1969.
Everybody thought Miriam was “it” until the final Q&A (the decisive portion when the judges are supposed to rank the top three finalists) when the seemingly simple but actually very tricky question was popped at each of the contenders (the two others have their ears covered while one of them is answering the question): If Miss Universe were to become pregnant during her reign, should she be allowed to continue as Miss Universe?
Although poised and smiling, Miriam hesitated a bit when she answered and, everybody is convinced that did her in.
Let’s compare and contrast the three finalists’ answers:

Miss Spain (Diana Nogueira, through an interpreter): “I don’t see why not because her head will still be the same. The only difference is that she will be bringing someone into the world. The only thing is if it were to in some way keep her from her travel, well..”
Miss Philippines: “It’s a very difficult situation to be in and, ah, I believe that if Miss Universe, if ever she becomes pregnant, I believe that she should continue with her reign if she has been a good example to be a Miss Universe, if she has pursued all the… all the goals that she has, that she had in the first place, and I believe that she should continue.” (A bit circuitous, isn’t it?)
Miss Botswana (Mpule Kwelagobe): “Personally, I think that Miss Universe is a symbol of a woman celebrating her femininity and I believe that if she becomes pregnant a woman can anyway interrupt her duty. I believe that as a woman she can celebrate her femininity.”
(Was that question coined as a subtle reference to a contestant who quit because of suspected pregnancy?) Miriam reluctant answer prompted one of the two anchorwomen, former Miss USA contestant Julia Moran to biatch, “She co amped up; it’s a pity. It’s a shame. She definitely choked!”
But the other anchorwoman, Miss USA 1996, Ali Landry, earlier praised Miriam for her answer in the preliminary Q&A portion. Question from host Jack Wagner (of Melrose Place); One of your proudest achievements was standing up to one of your professors back in college. Now, what did you stand up for recently?
Miriam’s answer “Oh, when I fell on the stage last Friday (during the pre-pageant night;)(laughing), I believe that I have stood up for the rest of the women who have fallen whether on or off stage. I believe that through this example of mine I have shown courage and strength of being a woman, of being who I am, and I hope to be a good example to the rest of the women in the world. Thank you.”
She got a thunderous applause from the audience and nice words from Ali Landry, “She has a lot of class, a lot of poise actually, I loved her from the beginning, “ adding with as some Filipinos perceived it, a hint of sarcasm, “I should say that she’s working on her having fallen from the stage… I’m afraid that next year, everybody may be falling watch.”
That fall turned into an advantage instead of disadvantage for Miriam because she showed poise and grace and presence of mind when she stood up and spread her arms with a huge smile on her face, drawing heartfelt applause from the audience who gave her a standing ovation. In that sense, Miriam literally “tripped” her way into the Magic 3, just a breath away from the coveted title.
Since the magnate Trumpo entered the picture and takeover the beauty pageant, no Filipina ever landed as a semifinalist in the pageant no matter how fierce and competitive the ladies were because his reason is purely business and he can’t allow a country to be recognized if he has no business interest with that country. Miriam Quiambao also turned down the offer of representing the country for Miss World 1999 because she believes that the pageant is only for nannies and grannies. Funny but true.
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