It’s been a week since the events of Miss Universe Philippines 2020, and we still can’t get over our pageant high. To ride it all out, we’re rounding up 10 of the most unforgettable answers uttered by Filipina beauty queens over the past years. Whether they went viral over a witty quip, won the contest with a graceful response, or drew attention for their amusing ramblings, these Pinay beauties have undoubtedly left their mark in pageant Q&A history.
1969: Gloria Diaz
Question: "If a man from the moon landed in your hometown, what would you do to entertain him?”
Answer: "“Just the same things I do. I think that if he has been on the moon for so long, I think when he comes over, he wants a change, I guess.”
Impressively calm during the usually nervewracking moment, Gloria Diaz's straightforward and witty answer won her the Miss Universe crown in 1969. She went down in history as the first Filipina to win the title.
1979: Melanie Marquez
Question: “What part of your body would you change?”
Answer: “I won’t change my legs because I’m contented with my long-legged.”
Despite her grammatical boo boo, Melanie Marquez still brought home the Miss Internationl crown back in 1979, and at just 15-years-old at that.
1993: Ruffa Gutierrez
Question: “What would you tell a girl who’s suffering from low self-esteem to make her feel better about herself?”
Answer: “I’ll tell her to believe in herself, because it’s not only physical beauty that’s important but also inner beauty. Like what the Little Prince said, ‘What is essential is invisible to the naked eye.’ And I believe that character and personality are more important than physical beauty.”
After flawlessly incoporating an Antoine de Saint-Exupéry quote into her response, it's safe to say that Ruffa Gutierrez absolutely nailed the Q&A portion during Miss World 1993, and Filipinos were certainly upset that she didn't bring home the crown. ICYDK, she finished the contest as the second runner-up.
1994: Charlene Gonzales
Question: "How many islands are in the Philippines?"
Answer: "High tide or low tide?"
Charlene Gonzalez's witty answer earned an uproar of laughter from the audience during the 1994 Miss Universe pageant, which was held at the Philippine International Convention Center. She would later on reveal, during an episode of The Buzz, that she dropped the now iconic quote in order to give herself time to remember the actual number in question.
2008: Janina San Miguel
Question: "What role did your family play to you as candidate to Binibining Pilipinas?"
Answer: "Well, my family’s role for me is so important because there was the ... they’re, they was the one who’s... very... Hahahaha... Oh, I’m so sorry, uhhmm... My pamily... My family... Oh my god... I’m... Okay, I’m so sorry... I... I told you that I’m so confident... Eto, uhhmm, wait... Hahahaha, uhhmm, sorry, guys because this was really my first pageant ever because I’m only 17 years old and ahahaha I, I did not expect that I came from, I came from one of the top 10. Hmmm, so... but I said that my family is the most important persons in my life. Thank you."
Arguably one of the most memorable moments in Pinay beauty pageant history, a then 17-year-old Janina San Miguel stumbled over her answer to judge Vivienne Tan's question while attempting to laugh off her nerves at the same time. In more recent years though, the former Bb. Pilipinas World titleholder made headlines for bravely exposing the indecent proposals she received while under the pageant world umbrella, in an interview for a program called Undercover Asia. Janina stated that the toxic environment pushed her to give up her title and opt out of representing the country for Miss World 2008.
2010: Venus Raj
Question: "What is one big mistake that you made in your life and what did you do to make it right?"
Answer: "You know what, sir, in my 22 years of existence, I can say that there's nothing major major problem that I've done in my life because I'm very confident with my family, with the love that they are giving to me. So thank you so much that I'm here. Thank you, thank you so much!"
Venus Raj spawned a new national catch-phrase in the 2010 edition of Miss Universe when her major major gaffe trended worldwide on Twitter right after her Q&A portion. Though she only ended up with the fourth-runner up spot that night, she's still remembered for the viral moment to this day.
2016: Bellatrix Tan
Question: Explain the hashtag "#ElNiñoLaNiña"
Answer: "El Niño, La Niña. El Niño is what we are facing right now. If we do simple things like planting trees, then we will not experience drought, right? So if we start now, we will achieve La Niña. Thank you."
Bellatrix Tan, who competed for Zamboanga in Miss Philippines Earth 2016 responded to critics after the pageant stating that she does, in fact, know what El Niño, La Niña are. During the same interview with DZMM, she also shared her would-be answer if given a second chance to re-do the moment. "El Niño and La Niña are both effects of climate change. If we don't do our part, we will really experience drought and heavy rainfall. Act now so we can have a better future," said Bellatrix.
2018: Sandra Lemonon
Question: “What are your insights on the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program?”
Answer: “The insights of the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program. Actually, I studied so much for this Q&A, but suddenly that’s something that I really don’t know much about. But, at least I’m here trying to answer a good question. Thank you!”
Yep, the controversial Sandra Lemonon of this year's Miss Universe Phlippines actually first made headlines two years ago for her painfully frank answer to Edgar Saavedra's question. Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach even praised the contestant for dropping all pretense and speaking bluntly. “Oh, I love her honesty. That’s better than lying,” she told Sandra. Meanwhile, social media, in particular, went wild for the beauty queen's response, so much so that they even turned it into a meme.
2020: Billie Hakenson
Question: "Throughout this journey you have discovered you are a phenomenal woman who is conditioned for greater. How can you create a positive and lasting impact to the world around you?"
Answer: "I was a survivor of gender-based abuse and without knowing it, maybe so are you. I am not here to just be a voice, I am here to amplify voices because we will not be silenced by fear anymore. We are here to be empowered by truth."
Miss Universe Philippines 2020 fourth runner-up Billie Hakenson may not have taken home the crown, but she still won over the nation with her firece and brave response to the Top 16 Q&A portion, delivered right in front pageant judges and government officials Harry Roque and Eric Yap, no less.
2020: Rabiya Mateo
Question: "If you will create a paper currency with the image of any Filipino on it, dead or alive, who will it be and why?"
Answer: "If I will be given the chance, I will use the face of Miriam Defensor-Santiago. For those who don't know, she was an Ilongga, but what I admired about her is that she used her knowledge, her voice to serve the country. And I want to be somebody like her, somebody who puts her heart, her passion into action, and after all, she is the best president that we never had."
Rabiya Mateo, now known as Miss Universe Philippines 2020, delivered a confident response during her Top 5 question and answer stage. That said, although she won the entire night, her answer still managed to spark an online debate over the aforementioned late senator's alliances.