Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen was filled with excitement when the 65th Miss Universe competition, making her one of the judges, gave her the chance to return “home” to the Philippines.
It was here in Manila where she made history as the first Indian to be crowned Miss Universe.
In a sit-down interview with Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho, the actress/model related one story that should make Filipinos proud of our then-candidate Miss Philippines Charlene Gonzalez.
Sushmita recalled, “I lost my earrings, and that whole outfit had a beautiful set of jewelry.
“I was literally crying at dinner, when Charlene Gonzalez comes up and says, ‘Hello, Miss India, I’m Miss Philippines.’ Like I don’t know. Of course, I knew who Charlene was.”
Charlene heard about what happened to Sushmita’s earrings, and offered the help the Indian beauty queen needed.
To Sushmita, Charlene was like an angel in disguise.
Her reaction: “Oh my God, I could picture, at that moment, her with wings.
“She opened up her room and all her earrings to me, and said, ‘Whichever you want.’”
Sushmita hesitated a little. She didn’t want to pick the pair of earrings that Charlene might have intended to wear for the finals.
But Charlene wasn’t too bothered.
Sushmita continued, “She said, ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s my country, I’ll get another one. You choose whatever you like.’”
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She chose a pair of ornamental drop earrings with jewel-encrusted details.
See how it complemented the crown!
Charlene wore the same pair during one of the pageant’s special presentations.
She was then clad in a Philippine terno designed by Pitoy Moreno.
After her victory, Sushmita spoke to Charlene about returning the earrings.
She remembered the Pinay beauty queen telling her, “’They are your winning earrings, you won in them, you can’t give those back.’
“’Take it as a gift from the Philippines to you.’”
Those "winning earrings" have been in her possession for 23 years now.