As it was announced recently, the Philippines is set to host the biggest beauty-and-brains competition of the whole world, the Miss Universe, in January 2017. This prestigious event returns here after more than twenty years. Back in 1994, we saw India’s Sushmita Sen crowned as Miss Universe by her predecessor, Dayanara Torres. And years before that, in 1974, the pageant also took place in Manila with Spain’s Amparo Muñoz crowned also by her predecessor, Margarita Moran, making this the very first time the Philippines hosted the Miss Universe.
Putting aside all these pageantries, we found that there are delicate matters rising as we plan ahead the pageant. On a positive note, Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo Teo remarked that with this opportunity ahead of us, the country’s tourism will boost significantly, and may attract more than 10 million tourists in 2017. Also, current Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach was vocal in her support for the event and said she wanted to crown her successor here in the Philippines in front of Filipinos. After all, it took more than four decades until a Filipino managed to grab the title again.
Furthermore, Miss Universe President Paula Shugart revealed that for years, it was her plan to set the pageant in the Philippines, according to her interview with ABS-CBN. She said it is fitting to do so this time, for the title holder is a Filipino.
Budget for Miss U
Worldwide gatherings like the Miss Universe will surely put the name of our country in the papers, headlines, and even Twitter trending lists, and as it is a “worldwide gathering,” thousands of people from around the world will flock here in a single day, audience and prominent personalities alike. Given this, it is expected that millions will be spent for this event only, which is estimated around $11 million. Looking back, the last State Visit of US President Barack Obama took PhP3.8 million of the people’s fund.
Teo assured all that the public funds will not be touched for this event with the private firms volunteering to be sponsors. She also assured the matter to the president himself, because at first, Rodrigo Duterte was hesitant to the idea of hosting the Miss Universe for it will be costly. Among the sponsor are the Japanese billionaire and Tiger Resorts chief Kazuo Okada and the richest Filipino, Henry Sy.
Another matter of interest is the commodities. It was announced that Manila shall be the place for the event, being the heart of the country and where all previous Miss Universe pageants also took place. Many are quizzical about this decision, given the crucial congestion of the city. For sure, various roads will be closed, traffic will worsen (as if it wasn’t bad already in the first place), and security will be heightened. Duterte, during one of his campaign speeches in February, expressed his rage over the outcome of the Philippines hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, an event that surely made the Philippines the star of the world news for days, but brought hell to all commuters in Manila who found themselves walking miles for hours going and leaving from work. According to Duterte, there are many choices of venue outside Manila that the APEC could have chosen to meet, like Subic. Filipinos are deeply hospitable people, after all, but sometimes it was for the cost of something bigger.
Given the circumstances, it is one of Duterte’s advocacies to bring the best out of the major points nearby Manila, ultimately breaking its imperialistic concept.
Then there is the airport, our gateway to the world, or in particular, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Still being regarded as one of the worst airports in the world, NAIA is still thousands of leagues away from its own vision. It is often asked: how can we receive diplomats and important visitors in our country when the common people cannot have a comfortable travelling experience of their own? And in some instances, we see that famous people often receive a better treatment than regular airport patrons. NAIA recently had the Laglag-Bala scandal, and the closure of the runways due to the asphalt crumbling down, in which Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade immediately issued an apology to all.
Teo declared that necessary improvements are being done in major infrastructures in Manila for the Miss Universe, even before the Philippines got the bid.
Most extravagant things come with responsibility, and it is exactly what the Philippines is facing for hosting the Miss Universe. Being excited about all the flawless candidates that will visit the capital city is one thing, and taking action for all matters above is another. When these issues are finally remedied, we hope that it is not for the Miss Universe alone, with all the niceties fading after January; we hope for long-term solutions. (Luke Godoy)