Gumawa ng kasaysayan si Miriam Quiambao sa 36th Bb. Pilipinas noong 1999 dahil sa loob lamang ng halos isang buwan, dalawa ang beauty title na iginawad sa kanya ng Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI).
Si Miriam ang hinirang na Bb. Pilipinas-World winner sa coronation night ng Bb. Pilipinas noong February 20, 1999, pero nung sumunod na buwan, ibinigay sa kanya ng BPCI ang Bb. Pilipinas-Universe crown na binawi kay Janelle Bautista dahil sa residency issue.
Nang sumali si Miriam sa 36th Bb. Pilipinas, gusto lamang niyang matupad ang kanyang pangarap na maging beauty queen, kaya isang sorpresa at malaking biyaya ang desisyon ng BPCI na siya ang ipadala sa 48th Miss Universe na ginanap noong May 26, 1999 sa Trinidad and Tobago.
Si Miriam ang tinanghal na first runner-up ni Miss Universe Mpule Kwelagobe ng Botswana pero para sa mga Pilipino, parang siya na rin ang nanalo dahil dalawampu’t anim na taon ang lumipas bago muling nagkaroon ng puwesto sa Miss Universe ang Pilipinas matapos maiuwi ni Margarita Moran ang korona noong 1973.
Buung-buo ang paniniwala ni Miriam na ang Panginoong Diyos ang nagplano ng lahat at ito ang ikinuwento niya nang makausap siya ng Cabinet Files noong ipakilala ang former beauty queen bilang celebrity ambassador ng mWell Philippines, ang healthcare mobile app ng Metro Pacific Investments Corporation.
“I believe so, it was pre-planned kasi ang Diyos naman He has plans for us even before we were born. He knows everything from the beginning to the end.
“I truly believe that God has planned for me, hindi pa ako beauty queen. I am sure of that because before I joined the pageant, I prayed about the decision.
“In fact, one of my big choices was to choose to pursue physical therapy and take my board exams in Guam or to choose to join the beauty pageant.
“Why do I tell this? Kasi ang schedule ko ng board exams sa Guam was originally scheduled on February 19, 1999 and yung coronation night ng Bb. Pilipinas was February 20,” ang sabi ni Miriam na natatandaan pa rin ang mga importanteng petsa sa kanyang buhay.
“So before I joined the pageant, I really had to pray. I felt like I was on a crossroad, having to choose between a childhood dream and a professional dream of mine. I wanted to become a doctor and practice in the States.
“I prayed about the decision knowing that God knows what’s best for us and choosing between two good things, what is best. I had to consult the God who created me and has created a great purpose for me.
“When I prayed, I received instructions from the Lord to be visible at the coronation night. He specifically gave me Bible verses to help guide my decision.
“When I was convicted of this decision of His guidance that I should join the pageant, sabi ko, 'Hindi ba selfish yun Lord, kasi parang kung pupunta lang ako doon, ipapakita ko lang yung kagandahan ko, yung katalinuhan ko?' Parang napaka-selfish naman.
“So there has to be a greater purpose for this and God directed me to another verse where He told me that this is going to be a greater purpose so I can help many people.
‘Sabi ko, Bb. Pilipinas is a charitable organization. Maybe I can use this platform to help other people.
‘Sabi ko, okay now that You have given me this purpose from joining their pageant, I will obey and so I set aside my plans of going to Guam to take up physical therapy board exams and the next Saturday, only a few days after I asked about His decision, Thursday yun when I prayed, nung Saturday was the last day of screening for Bb. Pilipinas, Sunday very early morning, natanggap ko na yung envelope from Bb. Pilipinas staff. Inside, there was a piece of paper, indicating na kasali ako sa Final 30 candidates.
“The following Monday, yun na agad ang preparations where we had to be billeted in a hotel, we had to go through rehearsals and meet the other sponsors leading up to the coronation night in February 20.”
Para kay Miriam, napakabilis ng mga pangyayari nang sumali siya sa 36th Bb. Pilipinas dahil nangyari ang lahat sa loob lamang ng isang linggo. May trivia rin siya tungkol sa gown na likha ng fashion designer na si Larry Espinosa na gagamitin niya sana sa long gown competition ng 48th Miss Universe pero hindi nangyari.
“Actually, parang isang linggong pag-ibig, e. Monday ako na-discover, Tuesday nagpunta ako sa mga agency, saka kay Larry Espinosa na nag-design supposedly ng gown ko na hindi ko naman naisuot kasi sabi ni Mrs. Stella Araneta [founder and head of BPCI], ‘Ito ang isuot mo.’
“Pak! Hindi ko na naisuot ang damit na gawa ni Larry Espinosa,” ang pagpapatuloy na kuwento ni Miriam tungkol sa kanyang Bb. Pilipinas at Miss Universe journey noong 1999.
“Anyway, Wednesday ako nakipagkita with Barney Aguilar, tapos Thursday, dun ako nag-pray and yung sign na ibinigay sa akin ni Lord, there was an impression in my heart to download my emails on that day.
“When I downloaded my emails, there was this random message sent to me and the subject was crossroad. It really impacted me because I felt like I was on a crossroad.
“And when I read this article, at the end of the article, it says ‘When you find yourself on a crossroad, look for the cross on the road.”
“Sabi ko, I think this is a confirmation that I should pray about this decision and that caused me to open my Bible devotional book. It opened at random on February 20.
“Sabi ko, di ba ito yung coronation night? Ano kayang message ni Lord para sa akin? Binasa ko yung devotional book, ang nakasulat was about a lamp on a stand. I think it was from the book of Mark. It says, 'a lamp must be on top of a table and not hidden under a bowl in order for its light to shine across the room.'
“Soon after I joined the pageant, one week before the actual coronation night, ito ang nakakatuwa, inayos ni Lord ang schedule ko.
“I was willing to give up physical therapy kasi sabi ni Lord, sumali ako sa pageant. Napag-alaman ko na one week before the coronation night that my schedule for my physical therapy board exams in Guam was moved to March 1999 so I was able to join the pageant February 20, nanalo ako na Bb. Pilipinas-World.
“The following month in March 1999, I flew to Guam to take my board exams for the State of Indiana and I passed it. Licensed therapist na ako, beauty queen pa ako, nakuha ko yung dalawa!
“Noong March, when I came back from Guam, nakatanggap ako ng tawag mula sa opisina ni Mrs. Araneta na si Janelle Bautista was disqualified because she had issues with residency at ako na yung na-bump up [sa Bb.Pilipinas-Universe].
“Yun ang story behind my journey in the pageant and yes, true enough because it was God who told me to join the pageant, I believe it was His plan.”
Sariwang-sariwa pa sa isip ni Miriam nang madapa siya sa preliminary competition ng 48th Miss Universe na pinaniniwalaan niyang nakatakda talaga na mangyari dahil sa plano ng Panginoong Diyos para sa kanya.
“And even when I fell in the pre-pageant night of Miss Universe, I believe it was pre-destined because God used that so I can be noticed by the judges. It could be jumping off to the question which I believe helped me bag the Final 3.
“I remember, the question was what was the last thing that you stood up for and my response was, ‘When I fell on the stage last Friday night which was the pre-pageant. I believe that I stood up for the rest of the women who had fallen whether on and off stage and I believe that through this example of mine showing who I am, showing my strength as a woman, I hope I could be a good example for all the women of the world. Thank you.' O, di ba, memorized ko pa?”ang natatawang sabi ni Miriam.
“First runner-up ang naiuwi ko from Miss Universe pero nakapagdulot ito ng malaking karangalan sa Pilipinas dahil nga at the time, sobrang down na down ang mga Pilipino.
“Twenty-six years yung drought natin from the time na nanalo si Margie Moran noong 1973. Our country was wanting of another beauty queen at kahit hindi ako nakapag-uwi ng korona, I was the closest one at the time.
Trivia: Ang Halston gown ang ipinasuot ni Mrs. Stella Marquez-Araneta kay Miriam nang sumali ito sa 48th Miss Universe. Ikinuwento ni Miriam na ibinalik nito sa BPCI ang gown at ang mga accessories na kanyang ginamit kaya wala siyang naitagong souvenir mula sa international beauty pageant na nilahukan niya.