written by Phillip Pugeda

Oh my God, I have to buy a new gown.

Its 3:00 pm, Dec 20th, I was still in my hotel room preparing to see the greatest show on earth. Nervous and shy I was, I called my lift to take me to Planet Hollywood. It was a mild cloudy day with rays of light, like my hopes for my motherland to win her third Miss Universe crown.

There were so many thoughts in my mind, both negative and positive before entering the venue. I was excited to see people in one minute and then the next, scared but I was already there so there was no turning back. This is why I was in Vegas and this is what I went for.

The crowd was enthusiastic even though the show hasn’t started yet. There were familiar faces inside. I can recognize them by their handles from different boards and pageant sites but there was this one very very familiar face that I recognized very quick – it’s was Sir Albert Andrada. I was star-struck and soon my head told me to approach him and thank him for sharing his masterpiece. That changed my mood for the night. Well, I guess I needed a little dose of “fangirling” to set the night of what could be the greatest so far.

And in 3.. 2.. 1… the show started.

Miss Universe 2015 Top 15
Miss Universe 2015 Top 15

Can I just say how the stage looked very very expensive with the CGI background. The Miss Universe emblem was spinning as if it was a real statue. It was also lit very well compared to the one I saw during the prelims on my computer. It was definitely dope IRL. From a pageant fan’s perspective, I felt that this event isn’t comparable to Super Bowl but rather the World Cup as I see different national flags waving and its fans cheering wildly. Among these fans, there’s one who still I can’t forget – that Thai fan who wore a replica of the Miss Universe crown (current) with lights on it (shout out to you my Thai fella!).

The national costumes this year is insane. I feel that it would really help the MUO brand if they will make this as a yearly contest that awards the designer (something like Miss World’s World Designer award) aside from the people’s choice. There were so many creative geniuses that deserve recognition for their work.

It was really nice of the organization to call back Slovenia on stage. It was heartfelt and very sentimental. Tears were all over the place and cheer of the crowd were at united. Everyone in the crowd gave her standing ovation and I could not thank MUO more for giving Miss Slovenia her moment.

The mellow mood of the crowd changed when the first cut was announced. I guess among the semifinalists, I was most happy when I heard Curacao being called in the top 15. For years they have sent beautiful girls (Safira and Eline most especially) but didn’t get the call. This year, they were right with Kanisha.  I was most surprised with Japan’s inclusion as well as Indonesia (I wished they called her into the top 10 though). Although in my head, there were some girls that I wanted to be up there, I felt contented with the semi-finalist. They were all beautiful.

Miss Universe Top 10
Miss Universe Top 10

I love the energy when Thailand was called in the top 10. I wanted her to advance into the top 5 but it was really strong this year and 5 girls that were on stage really deserved the call.

There were no right or wrong answers on the next round but the questions are really on point this time. Having the girls speak about their personal experiences and opinions on the issues in their respective country showed us how well they are aware of what is happening in their homeland.

Miss Universe 2015 Top 5
Miss Universe 2015 Top 5

I was betting on Philippines, USA  and Australia at this point. I think I chose them because their answers were the ones which I felt I can relate the most. But that’s just me…

The cloudy feeling came in again as soon as I heard Colombia advanced. It is not that I don’t like her, but more of I am scared because she will be the biggest threat, the biggest party spoiler for me and my countrymen. She was the game changer for me as the odds of having a back to back can really happen.

Miss Universe 2015 Top 3
Miss Universe 2015 Top 3

The final three gave good answers. I felt USA gave the warmest answer. The way Olivia answered was very engaging and she spoke very well that you cannot help but feel her excitement but the judges didn’t agree with me. Her energy compared to the final look segment in her Miss USA stint was a bit low and that’s where my biggest fear happened.

“I have to buy a new gown again,” said the beautiful Filipina beside me after we all heard who won Miss Universe. I admit, I was mad at that point, but for what reason? I know a part of it was because Pia was named 1st runner up and seeing the Ariadna with the crown only made me feel more sad.

Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach

At that point, I was speechless. Where I’m at, my fellow Filipinos were shocked. There were so many questions but I don’t need to be selfish as my countrymen still applauded and respected the decision.

But something isn’t just right. Right when I was ready to swallow the reality of what just happened, Steve Harvey came back to the stage announcing what could be on the headlines this week.

It did happen. What I hoped to see happened. What I hoped to hear was said. I got what I came for.

It was beyond crazy. It was surreal. It was beyond anything a Filipino fan can feel but my excitement wasn’t really full as the awkwardness that was currently happening on stage stole the moment.

The sadness and all kinds of negative feeling was changed when the crown was put on top of Pia’s head. We have waited 42 years and the last 5 editions were the hardest for the Filipinos. We were so close, yet so far but this time, a Filipina was crowned – the first in my lifetime and blessed to see it right before my eyes. The long wait was over.

While I am happy, I felt sad for Ariadna and her fans. To be honest with you, this is the part when I gave her respect. She was a class act. I know some will not agree with me but being in that situation, there is no any other way a girl with a bruised ego (in front of millions) could’ve handled that situation better than anyone else given in that moment.

And I can say the same with Paulina. Many wasn’t thrilled with her reign but what I saw that night changed my opinion about her. Perhaps, maybe we should look past beyond the 2d images and videos next time we judge because seeing them in real life really makes a difference.

They were all victims of the situation as you would definitely agree with me. How I wished that the same atmosphere when Miss Slovenia was called earlier on stage – cheering and celebrating beauty united and as one happened again. But it never happened.

I guess, for the first time in history, there were three Miss Universes on stage – a Miss Universe who relinquished her crown, another Miss Universe who had a coronation walk and the Miss Universe without a coronation moment on stage.

But the real winner is the one who stunned the universe… the one who is confidently beautiful with a heart!

Just kidding.

Viva Colombia. Mabuhay Philippines!  And congratulations Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015.

Ridz Pugeda is Missosology’s editor for Miss USA and Miss Universe. He covered the Miss Universe 2015 pageant live from Las Vegas. You may reach him at phil.pugeda@missosology.org

Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach


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