By Azer N. Parrocha
MANIA, Dec 10 (PNA) — Eleven Miss Universe bets were officially introduced Saturday to Filipino fans in a kick-off event ahead of the pageant coronation night on Jan. 30, 2017.
They were Miss Australia Caris Emily Tiivel, Miss Thailand Chalita Suansane, Miss Japan Sari Nakazawa, Miss Malaysia Kiranmeet Kaur Balijeet Singh, Miss New Zealand Tania Pauline Dawson, Miss USA Deshauna Barber, Miss Korea Jenny Kim, Miss Myanmar Htet Htet Tun, Miss Indonesia Kezia Roslin Cikita Warouw, Miss Vietnam Dang Thi Le Hang, and Miss Philippines Maxine Medina.
The candidates arrived in Manila on Friday (Dec. 9) and were welcomed by representatives from the Department of Tourism (DOT) led by Undersecretary Kat De Castro and pageant organizing committee LCS Group of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson.
During the program at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City, reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach welcomed the candidates saying she was excited about the Philippines hosting for the third time. Philippines has hosted the pageant in 1974 and 1994.
Wurtzbach also said that she was looking forward to having a proper “walk” before she passes the crown to her successor since she did not get the chance after being announced winner.
Because American host Steve Harvey incorrectly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the 2015 Miss Universe and Wurtzbach as the first runner-up during the last pageant held in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2015, Wurtzbach never got her chance to make her walk.
“(I can) finally have a proper walk on stage in no less than my home country,” Pia said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
She meanwhile wished the hopefuls luck and joked about not being ready to give up her sash just yet.
“I’m not quite ready to give up this sash yet but good luck to all the ladies,” she quipped.
Miss Universe Organization (MUO) President Paula Shugart, in her speech, said that she was grateful for the Philippines hosting the prestigious pageant describing it as a “dream come true” for both her and Wurtzbach.
“It’s not just Pia, it’s a dream come true for me (too). In less than a month over 90 countries are going to see the Philippines and its incredible hospitality,” Shugart said.
“Everyone is going to know about the Philippines,” she added.
Singson, for his part, presented MUO’s Shugart with a jacket with the words ‘Miss Universe’ printed on it.
“Miss Universe is on!” he said as he put the jacket on Shugart.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo meanwhile vowed to treat the candidates to at least three of the country’s best tourist destinations while they’re here.
“The girls will be staying here for a week but they’ll have a full schedule,” Teo said.
The candidates are expected to visit Siargao on Sunday (Dec 11), Intramuros on Monday (Dec 12) and Cebu on Tuesday (Dec 13) for photoshoots. (PNA)