In the eyes of the Filipino people, Maria Venus Raj brought home not only a place in the Miss Universe 2010 pageant, but also pride and distinction to the country. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)
Since her return, Venus has been making the rounds as TV guest. The latest was her live appearance on Showbiz Central yesterday, August 29. She was interviewed by hosts John "Sweet" Lapus, Pia Guanio, Raymond Gutierrez, and Rufa Mae Quinto for the "Intriga Crossfire" segment.
JOYFUL HOMECOMING. How does it feel to be home at last?
"Grabe po, pagdating ko pa lang sa airport, sobrang daming tao na nagkakaguluhan sila!" gushed the beauty queen. "Sobrang sarap ng feeling na at least pagbalik sa bansa natin, e, may karangalan akong dala para sa Filipinos."
The welcome and support she received everywhere, from the people in Las Vegas to the airport here in Manila, filled Venus with joy.
"Super overwhelmed ako," she smiled. "Parang hindi ko naman ine-expect na ganoon kalakas mag-support ang Pilipino. Parang sobrang amazing sa feeling po!"
LUCKY CHARMS. It's been 11 years since the Philippines placed in the Miss Universe pageant. Rumor has it that the earrings Miriam Quiambao wore in the Miss Universe 1999 where she finished 1st runner-up helped Venus get a place in the Top 5. True?
"I think so, kasi parang hindi lang si Ms. Miriam nagsuot, si Ms. Lara [Quigaman, Miss International 2005] din yata," smiled Venus.
Venus also received a gift from Melody Gersbach, the Bb. Pilipinas-International 2009 winner who died in a vehicular accident last August 21. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)
"She gave me a bracelet na pearls na may cross," Venus said. "Binigay niya 'yon noong send-off party ko. Sabi niya na 'Itong bracelet na ito, bigay sa akin ng isang kaibigan. Ginamit ko ito sa Miss International.' Nagpabigay daw sa kanya ng lakas ng loob."
Venus was a close friend of the late beauty queen. Melody was very down to earth, said Venus. "Kahit ang yaman-yaman niya at maganda siya, e, hindi niya ipapa-feel sa iyo na mas angat siya. Noong nag-start pa lang kami ng pageant sa Bicol, sobrang bonded na talaga."
Both Venus and Melody are from Bicol.
EXPERIENCES BACKSTAGE. News of backstage catfights in beauty pageants is common. For Venus though, she's lucky that she didn't really experience anything bad in a "major way" during the Miss Universe 2010 pageant.
"So far, this year, parang wala po!" laughed Venus. "Sabi nga ng organization na batch daw namin is the greatest batch kasi mabait lahat at masunurin. So far, wala naman ganoon."
Can she mention some Miss Universe 2010 contestants who were not really nice?