Ang former OPM pop balladeer na si Louie Heredia ang nakadiskubre sa reigning Miss World Philippines na si Laura Leighmann
Noong kasagsagan ng kanyang singing career noong 1980s, pinasikat niya ang ilang awitin tulad ng “Nag-Iisang Ikaw,” “Una at Huling Mamahalin,” “Can't Find No Reason,” “Kung Alam Mo Lang,” at marami pang iba.
Kabilang din siya sa mga naging hosts ng GMA-7 weekday lunchtime show na Lunch Date, kasama nina Toni Rose Gayda, Tina Revilla, Lito Pimentel, Jon Santos at Randy Santiago.
Umere ito mula 1986 hanggang 1993, pero nag-host lang si Louie mula 1991-1993.
FIRST MEETING WITH LAURA. Kinuwento ni Louie kung paano niya nakilala si Laura.
Pagbabalik-tanaw niya, “Old family friends.
“Neighbor siya ng brother ko, sa Ecology [Village] noon.
“I saw her growing up kasi barkada ng pamangkin ko, ni Patricia Heredia.
“So I saw her growing up, so nakikita ko siya from time to time.
“When she was twelve, 'til fifteen.
“And then four years ago, 2013, Christmas time, inimbita ng brother ko yung mother and daughter.
“Inimbita yung mother and daughter [the Leighmanns] sa La Vista for lunch.”
Sa La Vista Subdivision sa Quezon City nakatira ang mga Heredia.
CORRECT PRONUNCIATION. Nilinaw din ni Louie ang tamang pagbigkas ng pangalan ni Laura.
Lahad niya, “Laura [Lawra] siya, ayaw niya ng Laura [Lora].
“Laura Leighmann [Lawra Liman].
Pagpapatuloy ng kuwento niya, “Dumating si Laura. Sabi niya, ‘Hi, Tito! How are you?’
“Napatingin ako sa kanya. 'Wow! Tall, nice legs!'
“And by the way she was with the Philippine baseball team, ha?
“Smart girl, studied in IS [International School], scholar, smart talaga.
“So I said, ‘Laura, how old are you na?’
Sabi niya, 'Tito, like Patricia’s age—nineteen, twenty.'
“‘How tall are you?’
‘I’m like 5’8½”.’
“‘You know what, you can be a Miss Universe!’
“‘What, Tito? What Miss Universe?!’
“That time, naka-flats [shoes], no make-up, nothing. ‘I’m telling you, you can become a Miss Universe!’
“Tapos, sabi niya, ‘What do you mean?’
“Sabi ko, ‘Anyway if you’re interested, Binibining Pilipinas is this January, application and all that.
“Let me know if you’re interested.
“Think about it, I’ll connect you to the right people.’
“So that’s it, lunch, nothing.
“Four days after Christmas, tumawag yung nanay, si Candy Leighmann.
“She said, ‘Lou, what’s this you’re telling Laura about Miss Universe and Binibining Pilipinas? Are you serious about these things?’
“I said, ‘Yes, very! If she’s interested, I’ll help you.’”
THE MAKING OF A BEAUTY QUEEN. Ipinakilala raw ni Louie sina Laura at ina nito sa mga taga-Aces & Queens (Arnold Mercado at Duds Santiago), including Jonas Gaffud na siya ring head ng Mercator Artist and Model Management at kilalang beauty queen maker.
Dagdag pa niya, “She doesn’t know how to put make-up, so tinuruan siya ni Tonett Chua.
“And then after that she joined Binibining Pilipinas.
“MJ Lastimosa won that year, 2014. First runner-up si Laura.
“And then after that, ABS-CBN liked her.
“Kinuha na siya for courtside reporting for UAAP.
“She has a show in Lifestyle Channel, Listed.
“Ang dami niyang hosting jobs, print ads, endorsements—Facial Care, Folded & Hung.
“The mother called me up one night and she said, ‘Louie, I don’t know whether to love you or to hate you! Because our lives have changed because of you.’
“She was studying in Obama school in L.A. [Barack Obama Charter School], as a scholar, huh?
“But because of Binibini at naging showbiz-showbiz na, Ateneo na siya.”
MISS WORLD PHILS. 2017. Matapos ang 2014 ay hindi muna sumali muli si Laura sa kahit anong beauty pageant.
Paliwanag ni Louie, “She has to think about it, e.
“It’s not that easy to join again.
“So now she’s twenty-four, pinasali siya ulit.
“She joined Miss World. Sabi nila, ‘Bagay ka pang-Miss World.’”
And this time nga ay tinanghal na 2017 Miss World-Philippines si Laura.
Lalaban si Laura sa Sanya, China sa November 18 para maging kinatawan ng Pilipinas sa 2017 Miss World pageant.
“We will be there,” diin ni Louie.
THANKFUL. Paano nabago ang buhay ni Laura at ni Louie sa pagwawagi ni Laura?
Saad niya, “You know, after everything, kasi I helped her, she would call me up at night, give her advice—everything.
“After the pageant, she just texted me one line, you know what was her text? ‘I love you, Tito Louie!’
“It was touching.
“And that’s something money can’t buy.”