Tourism chief congratulates Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere as the Philippines notches its latest international events success, writes William Wadsworth
MISS France Iris Mittenaere was crowned Miss Universe in Manila today, and the Philippine MICE community celebrated its latest international events success.
The pageant seemed to run smoothly at the 15,000-seat Mall of Asia Arena – as expected. In this new, post-APEC 2015 age of Philippine meetings and events, the nation’s MICE community is now used to hosting presidents, top entertainers, business leaders, popes and chefs. International beauty queens? No problem.
Filipino planners and floor managers made the Miss Universe event look easy. Not just for today in the nation’s MICE capital, Pasay City, but since the 86 contestants arrived here on January 12. The beauty queens also visited Davao, Boracay, Cebu, Vigan, Baguio and attended photoshoots at historic and cultural spots in Manila. Such arrangements require top-rate logistics and planning.
The Conrad Manila hosted the contestants and their entourages. Miss Universe Great Britain Jaime-Lee Faulkner brought her Great Britain shoes; Miss Iceland Hildur Maria Leifsdóttir hugged her teddy bear; and Miss Universe Thailand, Chalita Suansane posed with her 17 pieces of luggage. All looked fabulous, thanks to CHI Haircare and MAC Philippines makeup.
The 65th Miss Universe stage was a glittering, pristine floor bristling with lights and the latest show tech in arguably the finest event space in Asia. But then Mall of Asia Arena already draws the biggest names in entertainment, from Madonna and Aerosmith, to Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift. The venue has even been a sports venue for the NBA. Manila’s a hot entertainment destination now because the young can afford tickets in the booming economy. Visiting performers notice Filipino audiences are enthusiastic and sing along in English. And they love beauty contests.
The pageant was well-presented and predictably entertaining and tense. The engaging Miss Haiti, Raquel Pelissier, won the hearts of the packed Manila crowd, and was first runner-up. The stunning Miss Colombia Andrea Tovar clinched the second runner-up spot. Miss Philippines Maxine Medina was beautiful and the daughter of PAL flight purser Maximo Guillermo Medina. She made the final six in a keenly contested, well-presented event.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo was at the pageant, and congratulated Mittenaere from Lille. The 24-year-old Miss France’s victory was also a triumph for the Philippines, she said.
“On behalf of the Filipino people, I congratulate Miss France for bagging the Miss Universe crown from 85 other candidates from around the world. Her win is our success as the host nation,” the tourism chief said.
“We join the millions of people watching from more than 190 countries worldwide in celebration over Miss Mittenaere’s success,” Teo added. “And we are very proud and grateful that the Philippines became an important part in her journey to the Miss Universe crown.”
All the hard work of staging of the 65th Miss Universe competition in the Philippines would boost the country’s tourism, the secretary said.
“The Philippines is the runaway winner in this prestigious international event,” Teo said. “Our islands, food, and the biggest smiles of our people are all over the news and social media, these past few weeks. The world now knows how beautiful our islands are; how delectable our cuisines are; and how friendly and warm Filipinos are – just ask the Miss Universe candidates themselves.”
During their brief stay, the pageant’s contestants saw “some top destinations, festivals, our balut, our Bohol Chocolate Hills – these are just a glimpse of what our 7,107 islands can offer”, the tourism chief said. “So today, I invite the world, come to the Philippines, so you can affirm that when you are with Filipinos, you are with family,”
With the support of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Teo said, the DOT tapped the assistance of other government agencies, along with the pageant organizers and private partners, to deliver what ought to be the “most memorable and beautiful Miss Universe edition ever”.
The DOT added that the 65th Miss Universe “was made possible with the collective effort of the DOT; the Miss Universe Organization; LCS Group headed by Gov. Chavit Singson & Architect Richelle Singson Michelle, in partnership with Okada Manila; SM Group of Companies; and Solar Entertainment Corporation, its broadcast partner”. Philippine Airlines was Official Airline Partner.
Pictures: The Department of Tourism