Ms. Universe 1999 first runner-up Miriam Quiambao appeared at the press conference of the skin care line Olay, along with the other Olay ambassadors, looking fresh and happy, last Wednesday, October 13, at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.
The former beauty queen told the media present, including PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal), that she is happy. "I'm single and I'm happy and I'm ready to mingle," she giggled.
It has been four years since Miriam separated from her Italian husband Claudio Rondinelli. A whirlwind romance—they married one year after meeting each other—the two were married twice: first in Hong Kong, on December 23, 2004, then weeks later in Boracay, on January 9, 2005. Two years later, the court granted them a divorce.
The former beauty queen—who is more stunning in person than any of her photographs make her out to be—admitted that since the divorce, there have been men wanting to court her, but that she hasn't been interested in that level of relationship.
"Actually, there are men around, but I'd rather keep them as friends," she said.
Miriam also said that being single is a different experience for her, and one she is actually enjoying.
"Ever since, I've always had a boyfriend, and ang difference lang [ng period] from one guy to another is two months. Even when I get separated, I always had a guy around. And it's just only now that I'm enjoying being single."
But the tall and lovely beauty also admitted that even if she is enjoying singlehood, she misses the feeling of being in a relationship.
"Kahapon nga lang, kinukwento ko sa friend ko, 'Alam mo, nakaka-miss din pala yung merong companionship sa isang relationship.
"Pero, sabi ko kasi kay God, pinagpre-pray ko, 'Lord, kung hindi ito, wag na lang,' Gusto ko 'yung binigay talaga niya, kasi alam ko yun yung perfect for me, yung one that will last a lifetime."
The former beauty queen said that should she date again, she prefers someone who is in the world of business.
"Ang preference ko, someone who also knows about business because I'm also a businesswoman. I also prefer someone who also gives me tips and who can trust me in my left-brain job, someone who would also be able to understand that." (By "left-brain job," Miriam refers to the part of the brain that is supposed to take care of logical and analytical skills, such as business.)
Of course she is open to dating men in show business, she adds, but a guy who has a business of his own would have more common ground with her.
"Showbiz, okay lang, pero sana meron din siyang business para nagkakaintindihan kami. I feel that it's very important that partners learn from each other," Miriam explained.
CHANGE OF RELIGION. During the interview, Miriam was vocal about another development in her life: her new-found faith and relationship with God.
"I'm actually enjoying my relationship with God 'cause I also turned Born Again [Christian].
"And it's just a wonderful feeling because, if before, men were filling up my emotional void, Jesus is already doing that. I have no need for another guy to be able to do that, if [it's] only just to fill that emotional void."
However, Miriam said, she is still hoping to finally find the man who will be with her for a lifetime.
"But, hopefully, one day when I'm ready...when the time is right, God will give me that someone who will be with me for the rest of my life."
As a survivor of a failed marriage, Miriam related that her experiences in the past helped build her character as well as goaded her to achieve more.
She picks up the analogy of the rubber band: "For every challenge, for people who have gone really really low, parang ano 'yan e, parang rubber band yan, pag ini-stretch mo nang ini-stretch ang rubber band tapos pinakawalan mo, lilipad iyan nang mas malayo.
"Feeling ko na-stretch ako in terms of challenges in the past years—character ko, and sabi sa Bible, 'Character is built slowly.'"
She also picks up the analogy of a tree growing: "Kunwari, ang puno 'pag namumukadkad at namumunga, dahan-dahan 'yan e. Pero naniniwala ako na yung character-building, yung strength na na-build sa akin these past few years, eventually mamumunga iyan."
Miriam spoke seriously about her becoming a Born Again Christian.
"Na-inspire din ako kasi sa Bible, shinare sa akin. Isa din sa dahilan kung bakit ako naging Christian, I was so low down into the dump, emotionally, financially, mentally, romantically, lahat...
"'Tapos sinasabi sa akin ng friend ko [na] sa Jeremiah chapter 29:11, 'For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'
"Nung narinig ko 'yon, sabi ko, siguro nga may plano talaga sa akin, there's a reason kaya ko pinagdaanan ang lahat ng ito. And I don't know how it's gonna be, but I believe I'm doing it step by step now."
In a brief phone interview today, Miriam told PEP that she was born a Roman Catholic and was so for much of her years. But that when she joined Claudio in Hong Kong, she was "exposed to so many" beliefs.
"I got confused," she said. And to find herself again, she said she decided to go "back to basics," which she translated to mean becoming "a Born Again Christian."
SHOWBIZ CAREER. After her triumphant stint in the Miss Universe 1999 pageant held in Trinidad and Tobago—the closest the Philippines has come to the crown since Margie Moran brought it home in 1973—Miriam began a show business career.
She first worked as a TV host and a correspondent for GMA-7's news and public affairs programs.
But when she got married in 2004, she and her husband moved to Hongkong, where the Italian businessman owns restaurants, disrupting her career.
After her divorce, Miriam moved back to the Philippines and started to be visible in show business again.
Since then, she has been getting recognition for her various stints in the industry.
She was recently nominated as Best Supporting Actress at no less than the Gawad Urian Awards 2010, for the comedy movie Kimmy Dora, where she plays Gertude, the beautiful and much-abused assistant of Kimmy (Eugene Domingo).
Two years earlier, in 2008, she was awarded Best Female Host by the Aliw Awards.
By November of this year, Miriam will be part of TV-5's upcoming show, Broken Hearts Club.
"Sa showbiz naman, [ang balak ko] is to inspire, to inform, equip, entertain, and empower," Miriam told the press.
Miriam, whose career is managed by Annabelle Rama, said that she is happy with the way things are going in her career, but she clearly intends to go further in her career.
According to the 35-year-old beauty queen-actress-entrepreneur: "Pinag-iigihan ko lang talaga. Alam ko na marami pa akong bigas na kakainin bago ko maabot 'yung naabot ng ilang sa mga kasamahan natin sa showbiz, pero happy na ako sa mga na-achieve ko sa ngayon, and I'm taking it one project at a time."