The crowning of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach proves that the Philippines is the odd one out of the Southeast Asian nations. Geopolitically, it is really. While it is racially related to the rest of Southeast Asian nations, it is so far the only Christian-majority nation in the region. Majority of its townscapes echo the tropical barrios of Latin American nations than say the villages of Thailand or the kampungs of Malaysia.
When Pia was crowned as Miss Universe 2015, the netizens from Vietnam, Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia barely supported her. Many even called her victory as fraudulent and hurled a lot of insults towards her. It must be noted though that there were people from these countries who were happy with the victory of the Philippines but majority of them are not. Contrast that with the situation of Colombia. The country gets unequivocal support from most of Latin Americans because it shares historical and cultural affinity with them – from Mexico all the way down to Argentina.
While its historical and cultural uniqueness may explain why Pia Wurtzbach barely registered any support from netizens in other Southeast Asian nations, its success in pageantry could be the other reason. Among the ASEAN countries – a regional grouping in the region – the Philippines fare very well and is on the upper bracket of the Big4 Ranking. It is currently ranked as 4th while Thailand in second at the far 24th place and Vietnam at 75th.
Among major Latin American countries, there is no huge variance in their rankings and there is no frontrunner that has a huge distance from other nations in the region. Venezuela for example is on the 2nd place while Colombia is on 5th whereas Mexico is on 16th while Puerto Rico is on 18th place. When a Venezuelan woman wins, the Colombians are generally happy and vice-versa.
Sure, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach got the support from the candidates in the Southeast Asian region. Myanmar and Malaysia were among the first contestants to rush to Pia to congratulate her while most of the Latinas rushed to comfort Colombia. In a pageant, regionalism is pretty much prevalent and perhaps they understood that with the victory of the Philippines, the Southeast Asian region will get the much attention. Remember in 2010, when the Philippines became the first ASEAN country to land in the Top 5 of Miss Universe since 1999, the attention began to shift in the region with Indonesia making it to the Top 15 in 2013 and Thailand making it to the Top 10 this year. Well in fact, ASEAN was well represented this year with Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand in the Top 15!
The Southeast Asian region should understand that regionalism plays a crucial role in pageantry. The Latina candidates have enjoyed solidarity although not really 100% of the time. This allows them to get all the attention and pass the crown from one Latin American nation to another. The ASEAN netizens should set aside their differences and jealousy because the success of one nation benefits the others.