by Robert R. Requintina and Mar T. Supnad
Maxine Medina, the country’s bet to the 2016 Miss Universe beauty pageant is eyeing a back-to-back title win and wants President Rodrigo Duterte to witness it.
“I am very honored if our President would be there. He’ll be witnessing back-to-back (title),” said Medina, when asked if she would be nervous about the presence of the President in the audience, during a press send-off held at the Novotel in Cubao, Quezon City.
Medina, 26, was also referring to the possible back-to-back win after Pia Wurtzbach was crowned 2015 Miss Universe in Las Vegas, Nevada in December 2015.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo has said that she has reserved a seat for President Duterte during the finals of the Miss Universe contest at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City on January 30. She added that she would sit next to him.
But Duterte has yet to confirm his attendance at the pageant.
A $12-million yacht is now being readied for the use of the Miss Universe candidates who will visit the Heritage City of Vigan and various tourism sites of Ilocos Sur on January 15, 2017, according to former Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson, one of the hosts of the Miss Universe pageant.
The yacht, purchased by Singson all the way from Italy, is now docked in Subic yacht club for conditioning and cleaning.
The police have strictly imposed a gun ban in Vigan City and its nearby towns to ensure the safety and security of the 20 Miss Universe candidates who are expected to visit the city on January 15, 2017. Aside from Vigan City, City Mayor Juan Carlo S. Medina said that the areas covered by the gun ban effective January 13 to 16 are the towns of Caoayan, San Vicente, Santa Catalina, Bantay, and San Ildefonso.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
There are 86 contestants competing in the 65th edition of the Miss Universe contest. Asked about her closest rivals for the crown, Medina said: “Wala (None)! We can do this!”
The former fashion model said that she was excited that the Philippines will host the pageant.
“Honestly, I just realized na it would be fulfilling for me to have it in the Philippines kasi everyone knows that I am fond of going outdoors,” said Medina.
“And I was surprised bigla na lang dito sa Philippines (ginanap) and we’re going around the country. It is my goal na before I go around the world, I would be touring the Philippines first,” the beauty queen from Quezon City said.
Medina said that she is ready to sacrifice for one year and live in New York if she would win the fourth crown for the Philippines.
“This is once in a lifetime and I will be devoting myself for this, for my country, for the Philippines, for the Filipinos. It is something that can really inspire them,” she said.
Asked about the good news she would like to share to her fellow candidates about the Philippines, Medina said: “We Filipinos are very resilient. We rise above the challenges in our lives. We can face all the tragedies and problems and that’s the most important thing that I can really be proud of as a Filipino.”
Still the recognized political kingpin in Ilocos region, Singson, said that the world beauties will roam around various tourism sites such as Baluarte in the Heritage City of Vigan.
One of the most sought-after destinations of tourists is the Santiago cove in Barangay Sabangan where world class hotels-resorts called Vitalis, locally known as “Mini Santorini” is nestled.
Governor Ryan Singson will welcome the candidates to his city and assured that all agencies and sectors concerned are activated and tapped to help.
The police, headed by Senior Superintendent Rey de Peralta has already mapped out security plans to ensure the safety of the candidates while they are visiting Ilocos Sur.
Mayor Medina said the city government, in collaboration with the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Red Cross, Office of Civil Defense, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, City Health Office, the barangays, and the provincial government, is preparing for all security plans and contingencies to ensure the safety of the candidates.
“Maximum security and comprehensive traffic plans will be implemented for the safety of the Miss Universe candidates and the people who will come to witness this once in a lifetime experience in Vigan City,” Medina said in a press conference last Tuesday.
He said that some 1,000-strong police, composed of over 800 personnel from Ilocos Sur with minimal augmentation from the PNP regional office, will be deployed in the city’s heritage district and will be supported by force multipliers from barangays to secure peace and order.
“Dry runs will still be conducted on January 11 and 14 for people to know that there will be road closures in preparation for this special event,” he said, adding that the city government will declare a liquor ban for safety purposes.
Likewise, Medina said that Senior Superintendent Rey De Peralta, the Ilocos Sur police director, will spearhead the strict implementation of the gun ban.
The city mayor also reminded that any kind of bags and any form of liquid will be prohibited during the fashion show.
The show is open to the public but taking a “selfie” with the Miss U hopefuls is prohibited.
“Let us all extend our patience and sacrifice a little for this occasion because this is just for a day and after it, everything will be back to normal,” he appealed to the public.
Some 20 candidates are expected to arrive on Sunday at the Mindoro Airport in Vigan City. They will proceed to the popular Baluarte for a photo shoot and a press conference. Capping their day is the fashion show at 9 p.m. The candidates will wear attractive gowns made of Abel Iloco.
Meanwhile, the management of Hanna’s beach resort in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte is also preparing for the expected arrival of at least five Miss Universe candidates for photo shoot but the schedule has not yet finalized.
Marx Topacio, boyfriend of Medina, said that he is willing to wait for her girlfriend if she wins and stays in New York for one year.
“She’s an answered prayer. I prayed for a girlfriend like her. This is it,” said Topacio, boyfriend of the beauty queen for six years now.
Topacio admitted that he has wedding plans before Medina won the Binibining Pilipinas pageant last year.
But the actor put his wedding plans on hold when she won. He said that he will resume his wedding plans after the Miss Universe contest.
Topacio admired the determination of Medina in everything she does. “She’s very determined. If she wants it, she will get it.”
He said that he is ready to sacrifice for three weeks without her girlfriend who is competing for the pageant.
“I hope to see her during events. There’s one in Cebu where I will also participate. So maybe I will see her there,” Topacio said.
He admitted it is difficult to have a beauty queen for a girlfriend because of her busy schedule.
“But it’s okay. Time flies fast. I told her to focus on her career as a beauty queen. Before you know it, her term is finished. I am always here for her,” Topacio said.
Sought to give message to Medina, Topacio said: “Don’t change. I know you will not change. Take care of your body and have enough rest. Just enjoy the moment because not everyone is given the same privilege.”
Topacio also said that he has given a souvenir for Medina on her journey to the Miss Universe pageant but he refused to reveal it.
The male model said that he has also bought a ticket to the Miss Universe contest and will watch it with his friend. (With a report from Freddie G. lazaro)
Tags: 2016 Miss Universe beauty pageant, Manila Bulletin, Maxine Medina, mb.com.ph, News today, PH Miss U bet eyes back-to-back win with President Duterte in the audience, Philippine news, Pia Wurtzbach, President Duterte