By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA — It’s official! The Miss Universe 2016 beauty pageant will happen in the Philippines as announced by the reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach last November 3.
In an Instagram video uploaded by Department of Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro, the Filipina beauty queen announced and confirmed that finally, the pageant will be held in the country on January 30, 2017 with the pre-pageant on January 13, 2017.
“Hi guys! Mabuhay! I’m so excited to share with you all that, yes, the Miss Universe competition is indeed happening in the Philippines and I can’t wait to show you all my beautiful country,” Wurtzbach announced in the Instagram video.
In a Facebook post by Jonas Gaffud of Mercator Artist and Model Management, Pia’s management arm in the Philippines, Gaffud said that he and Pia have been working since February just to convince the government and the Miss Universe Organization to stage the pageant here, “…we are announcing that the 65th edition of Miss Universe will be in the Philippines on January 12 to 30, 2017.”
At a press briefing, Department of Tourism (DOT) secretary Wanda Teo happily announced that after much convincing on their part, the international beauty pageant will finally happen on January 30, 2017, 5 a.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“This is one proud moment for all of us, Filipinos, to bear witness to our reigning Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of Cagayan de Oro City as she takes her final walk and passes on her crown to her successor, where else, but in her home country, the Philippines,” Teo added.
According to The Philippine Daily Inquirer, DOT Secretary Teo announced some details in the upcoming pageant such as a popular celebrity in the United States with Filipino blood will perform in the pageant in Manila. When asked if Bruno Mars will be one of the performers, the tourism secretary said that they are still finalizing details and that the final performers list is a secret.
Teo also said that Davao, Palawan and Iloilo will be featured in some of the pageant’s events as well as photo shoots and added that they were also on the look-out for other places to feature other than the common tourist spots.
The tourism head also confirmed Cebu and Bohol as the venues for ancillary events and that the Philippine government will not be exhausting any government funds for the pageant as previously mentioned by President Duterte.
“The Miss Universe 2016 in Manila is brought to you by the DOT, MUO, LCS Group of Companies …in partnership with Okada Manila, SM Group of Companies, Solar Entertainment Corp., our broadcast partner,” Teo said.
Furthermore, Teo assured that Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will be well-represented and will be visited by the 90 Miss Universe candidates.
The Miss Universe pageant in Manila in 2017 will be the third time in the Philippines after the 1974 and 1994 pageants.
In 1974 the Miss Universe pageant was held for the first time in Manila when Miss Universe 1973 Margarita Moran crowned Amparo Muñoz of Spain as Miss Universe.
In 1994 it was held again in the country when India’s Sushmita Sen won and was crowned by Miss Universe 1993 Dayanara Torres.
Miss Philippines 2016 Maxine Medina, an interior designer and model was crowned last April by Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach to be the country’s representative in the upcoming pageant.
This year, the beauty pageant went through so many obstacles.
According to Rappler, though DOT announced last July that the pageant will be held in the country and funded by the private sector, the Miss Universe Organization and Pia Wurtzbach have not spoken until November 3.
Moreover, last October, reports surfaced that the Miss Universe pageant will not be held in the country after a speculation that WME/IMG, which owns the Miss Universe franchise, was worried about the political situation in the country, as well as security concerns.
According to The Philippine Daily Inquirer, WME/IMG allegedly cited political instability, security threats as well as the Philippines not paying the hosting fee as reasons for the cancellation.
“Is it also true that the co-CEO and owner of WME/IMG, Ari Emanuel, who happens to be Jewish, was offended by President Duterte’s controversial remarks and referencing Hitler and his “Go to hell” comments directed at US President Barack Obama?” the Inquirer report read.
Last October, a group of women also petitioned for the Miss Universe Organization to hold the 2016 pageant elsewhere due to the sexist attitude of the newly elected officials of the country. The petition has more than 50 signatories like businesswoman Loida Nicolas-Lewis and former Ayala Foundation president Vicky Garchitorena.
In a Facebook post by Annie Serrano, the group argued that by holding the Miss Universe Pageant in the country will just serve as a “reward of this intolerable behavior and excuse such behavior” in which the group was referring to the recent months of “chauvinism, brutal shaming, rape jokes and a sweeping disregard for women as persons deserving not merely of a token but true respect has been exhibited by the President of the Philippines with his salacious and sexist comments and treatment of female reporters and opposition figures, which has carried over to his allies in the Philippine Congress.”
The group also warned the Miss Universe Organization that if they would push through with the pageant in Manila, the organization would only be a “partner to these backward and dangerous steps which are serious violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).”
“Do not hold Miss Universe in the Philippines. Be a partner for the liberation and not the subjugation of women. Take your pageant elsewhere and do not reward a regime that is trying to turn back the clock as far as women’s causes are concerned,” the petition read.
Steve Harvey to host Miss Universe pageant again
Along with the official confirmation, the DOT in their press briefing last November 3 also confirmed that Steve Harvey is set to host the pageant again in 2017.
In the 2015 pageant, Harvey mistakenly announced Miss Columbia Ariadna Gutierrez as Miss Universe 2015 before apologizing and correcting himself that Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach was the actual winner.
In a September 1 post from Rappler, DOT Sec. Teo said if the President had his way, he wouldn’t like Steve Harvey to host the pageant again in 2017.
“When I told the President about that, negative agad. Ang sabi niya, ‘Hindi puwede!’” said Teo during a press conference at Malacañang Palace.
In another story by The Philippine Star, Teo confirmed that Steve Harvey will still be the host of the 2017 pageant even if the president will still oppose the decision. Teo explained that Harvey has a 5-year contract with WME/IMG, the franchise owner of the Miss Universe pageant.
Teo also said that she may talk to the pageant organizers and suggest that Steve Harvey should have a Filipino female co-host to appease the President. But Teo also explained that she is yet to talk to the organizers to raise this concern but assured that the President is happy with the confirmation that the pageant will happen in Manila.