Miss Japan was recently proclaimed Miss Universe 2007—Japan's second Miss Universe crown. Their first was won by Akiko Kojima in 1959. And two days after the prestigious title was passed on to Miss Yori Mori by Miss Zuleyka Rivera of Puerto Rico, PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) still has the Miss Universe fever.
Did you know that USA won the Miss Universe crown eight times? And that Venezuela and Puerto Rico both have four candidates who won in the said pageant? Sweden landed in the third spot and became titleholder for three years.
Did you know that just like Japan, Philippines already bagged two Miss Universe crowns? And that there are 20 Pinay semi-finalists and minor awardees in the said pageant from 1963 to 2007?
PEP has the list of Pinays worthy to be called Miss Universe beauties.
Gloria Diaz. Gloria was crowned Miss Universe, at the same time that the astronauts were exploring the moon. And who would forget the statement of former US President Richard Nixon pertaining to our country's victory in the Miss Universe pageant? He said: "The US conquered the moon, but the Philippines has conquered the universe!"
Gloria outshone the three astronauts, and became the "pinakamagandang hayop sa balat ng lupa" during that year!
Margarita "Margie" Moran. Besides winning the title in 1973, Margie also wowed the photographers and was voted Miss Photogenic.
Thirty four years after her reign, she has continued focusing on humanitarian causes. When she married politician-businessman Antonio Floreindo, she chose to settle in Davao and became an active member of civil society advocating a culture of peace and development in Mindanao.
Charlene Gonzales. Aga Muhlach's wife was the reigning Bb. Pilipinas Universe when our country hosted the 1994 Miss Universe pageant. Charlene was one of the top six finalists, but she landed in the 4th place.
She also bagged the Best National Costume for her glamorous Filipiniana outfit in the "Parade of Nations," a segment that was implemented only here in the Philippines.
The most notable thing about Charlene was the wit she dispalyed during the question-and-answer portion. When asked about the number of islands in the Philippines, the Feel at Home host answered, "High tide or low tide?" This earned the loudest cheers from the audience.
Miriam Quiambao. Miriam originally won the Bb. Pilipinas-World title, but she had to take the place of the crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Universe, Janelle Bautista, who was dethroned due to citizenship problems.
During the 1999 Miss Universe pageant, Miriam caught the attention of the judges and became a crowd favorite after she fell on stage and quickly stood up to recover her poise and composure. She won the first runner-up title and took home a special award, the Clairol Herbal Essences Style Award.
Other semi-finalists. Unknown to many, the Philippines already has nine Filipina candidates who made it to Miss Universe's top ten semi-finalists—Lalaine Betia Bennett (1963), fourth place; Louise Vail Aurelio (1965), one of the top 10; Ma. Clarinda Garces Soriano (1966), one of the top 10; Armi Barbara Quiray Crespo (1972), one of the top 7; Guadalupe Cuerva Sanchez (1974), one of the top 7; Rose Marie Singson Brosas (1975), one of the top 5.
During the '80s, three Filipinas made their mark—Maria Rosario "Chat" Silayan (1980), fourth place; Ma. Desiree Verdadero (1984), fourth place; Geraldine Villaruz Asis (1987), one of the top 10.
Anna Theresa Licaros. Hopes were high when this University of the Philippine summa cum laude competed in the Miss Universe 2007 pageant. Her Pinoy supporters were confident that she would do well in the question-and-answer portion. Unfortunately, she didn't make it to the top ten. She went home with the Miss Photogenic award.
Like Margie and Theresa, five more Miss Philippines candidates captured the Miss Photogenic award: Vida Valentina Doria (1971), Aileen Damiles (1996), Abbygale Arenas (1997), Gionna Cabrera (2005), and Lisa Andrea Ramos (2006).
Miss Philippines 2001 Zorayda Ruth Andam won first runner-up in the Best in Costume category of the Miss Universe pageant held in Puerto Rico.
Indeed, our country has had its share of world-class beauty queens. Let's all look forward to a more triumphant year in 2008. Hopefully, the next Binibining Pilipinas-Universe will finally bring home the crown.