7 Fascinating Facts About Filipina Beauty Queens

Along with boxing, cockfighting, and basketball, watching beauty contests is arguably one of the nation’s favorite pastimes.

And the joy of glorifying beauty doesn’t end on TV. From Ms. Gay to Ms. Senior Citizen, there are just so many ways Filipinos appreciate beauty.

Also Read: 6 Astonishing Facts About Ms. Universe and the Philippines

But how can we explain this obsession?

Perhaps it’s the country’s impressive Ms. Universe victory these past few years. Or maybe we believe that winning international beauty pageants also means putting our country’s name on the map. Either way, our fascination for beauty queens is something worth exploring.

In the meantime, let’s walk down memory lane and learn some of the most fascinating but lesser-known facts about Pinay beauty queens.

7. The First Igorot Beauty Queen


The most famous beauty from the northern highlands who caused a sensation in Manila was born Eveline Chainus Guirey in 1902 in Gumatdang, Itogon. She was the eldest of 10 children of Guirey, a well-to-do Benguet baknang (country squire) and Dakalay, an Igorot who went by her Christian name, Flora Pacalso.

Like all young Christianized native girls, Chainus was schooled by missionaries at the Bua Public School near Baguio. In 1915, a Benguet Carnival was planned to promote the advancements made by the mountain region and to coincide with the great national fair in the country’s capital—the Manila Carnival. At just age 13, Chainus was selected to reign as the Benguet Queen, the youngest beauty ever in the history of the Philippine carnival.

Continue Reading: The Short And Tragic Life of The First Igorot Beauty Queen

6. The First Miss Philippines

anita agoncillo noble first miss philippines

In 1964, bank teller-turned-beauty queen Ma. Myrna Elizabeth Sese Panlilio became the first Binibining Pilipinas in history.

It was a great milestone but technically, the first Miss Philippines was crowned way back in 1926.

Anita Agoncillo Noble, a 20-year-old student from Lemery, Batangas, became a beauty queen when the title “Miss Philippines” was first introduced. It’s interesting to note that Anita also came from a historically significant family.

Her mother, Maria Agoncillo, was a relative of Felipe Agoncillo, Maria (Emilio Aguinaldo’s second wife) and Marcela, one of the people who made the first Philippine flag.

Also Read: 29 Things You’ll Never See in Manila Again

5. The Beauty Queen Senator

Source: Alex Castro, Wikimedia Commons

Known as the “original sweetheart of the Philippine Senate,” Maria Kalaw Katigbak first entered politics in 1961. But unknown to many, Maria was also a former beauty queen.

At a tender age of 19, Maria was crowned Manila Carnival Queen in 1931. The said event was part of an annual festivity organized to celebrate U.S.-Philippine relations.

Even at a young age, Maria already proved that she was the quintessential “beauty and brains.” She was a high school valedictorian at Philippine Women’s University and a magna cum laude for her Doctor of Philosophy degree (Social Sciences) at University of Santo Tomas.

Also Read: 15 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Miriam Defensor-Santiago

4. Second Time’s a Charm

elvira gonzales beauty queen trivia

Long before Janine Tugonon and Pia Wurtzbach, Elvira Gonzales already started the trend of attempting to win the beauty pageant crown several times.

Gonzales was the first Binibining Pilipinas candidate who joined the contest twice: in 1964 and 1965. Unfortunately, Elvira only ended up a runner-up in both attempts.

Luckily, she passed on the torch to her daughter Charlene Gonzales, who eventually seized the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe crown in 1994, making them the first mother-and-daughter tandem to ever compete in the same beauty pageant.

Recommended Article: The Inspiring Wartime Story Of A Filipina Who Died Saving Her Son

3. The “falling” Beauty Queen

criselda cecilio filipina beauty queen facts

Shortly after Maritza Sayalero of Venezuela was crowned Miss Universe in 1979, dozens of other contestants, as well as members of the press, rushed towards the stage to congratulate her.

Due to overloading, a part of the catwalk collapsed, causing injuries to 20 contestants. Criselda Cecilio of the Philippines suffered bruises from the accident alongside Tahire Dermitan of Turkey and Carla Franco of Costa Rica, among others.

2. The Pinay Beauty Queen who Turned Down Ms. World Crown

evangeline pascual

Evangeline Pascual would have been the first Asian to win Miss World in 1979 had she not refused to accept the crown. However, she had all the right reasons for letting it go.

Held at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the 1973 Miss World pageant ended up in a tie between Evangeline and Miss USA Marjorie Wallace. The latter eventually won but dethroned months later for failing to fulfill her responsibilities.

Evangeline was then offered to take over the crown but refused to do so. Subsequent interviews revealed that she turned it down because she thought the competition was unfair to Asian candidates.

Besides, she would also not get the same prize that Wallace won had she accepted the offer.

1. Behind Every First Crown Was a Filipino Husband

stella araneta
Stella Araneta, the first Miss International, was also married to a Filipino.

Remember Virgilio Hilario? Turns out, he was not the only Filipino who captured the heart of an international beauty queen.

In fact, aside from Hilario (who married the first Miss Universe titlist Armi Helena Kuusela in 1953), there were also Jorge Araneta and Jose Faustino.

Araneta was married to no less than Stella Marquez Zawadski, a stunning Colombian who became the first Miss International in 1962.

Faustino, on the other hand, brought to the altar Angela Filmer, a Malaysian beauty who was crowned as the first Miss Asia in 1965. The said pageant was sponsored by the Philippine Cycling Association, the reason why it was not recognized as the first Miss Asia-Pacific Quest which started in 1968.

Selected References

Castro, A. (2009). Miss Philippines of the Manila Carnival, ANITA AGONCILLO NOBLE. Manila Carnivals 1908-39. Retrieved 23 November 2016, from https://goo.gl/dynFcd

Pinay beauty queen na tumanggi sa korona. (2009). GMA News Online. Retrieved 23 November 2016, from https://goo.gl/Rc2oRu

TVW Special Projects Department. (2009). Wa TV History. Retrieved 23 November 2016, from https://goo.gl/45LVb9


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One thought on “7 Fascinating Facts About Filipina Beauty Queens

  1. Gemma Cruz was the most POISED of the world beauty contest title winners. If you can still get a footage, note her catwalk and the way she carried herself gracefully and SLOWLY, during the pageant. Aurora Pijuan came close to Gemma in this aspect. Later, the manner in which they asserted themselves over “failed” marriages also showed their mettle … that they were not beholden to human “gods” and could fend for themselves. Gloria Diaz wowed the judges by her witty remarks that made it easy to cart away the crown. Until now, her wits are still with her. I noticed that she and Margie Moran have a characteristically cute overbite that sometimes would be considered by others as an imperfection. A few years ago, Venus failed to win the crown that was at her fingertips because she ‘translated’ her answer to the crucial question — from Tagalog, or whatever her dialect was. An interpreter could have accurately delivered her response. Which brings me to the question: why do we pride ourselves in speaking GOOD English, touting ourselves as the best English-speaking nation in Asia? Japan, China, Korea and other nations are successful internationally without being as fluent. I dialogued with Randy David (and he agreed with me at that time) that our means of communication deserves a sociological research. We use English no matter how crooked or thickly accented, in schools and business, BUT talk “daily” to one another (especially menial workers) in the dialect. WHY? One male hag (for lack of a term) quipped: if we were not fluent in English, WE WOULD HAVE A HARD TIME LIVING IN AMERICA. Smacks of colonialism. But I am getting ahead of myself… that is be another topic slightly related to our embrace of beauty queen titlists
    Thank you.
    Josie Lim Cruz

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