AN UGLY-DUCKLING and a wallflower.
That’s how Pia Alonzo-Wurtzbach, the 25 year-old German-Filipino, the newly-crowned Binibining Pilipinas 2015 described herself when she was still a kid.
Pia will represent the country in the Miss Universe pageant this year.
But how could that be? From the looks of it, what she said is quite the opposite as she blossomed into an amazing woman – with looks to die for and the brains to envy.
Born to a German father and a Filipino mother, Pia grew up at Golden Village in Barangay Carmen this city with her family. She has a sister who is three years younger than her.
Her maternal grandparents migrated to Iligan City after Martial Law to open a business franchise with the trade name Real Bukobar and Cold Products. Her mom stayed behind in Malabon until after she graduated from college.
In an email sent by Olivia “Olive” Alonzo-Pendang, her maternal aunt, it was said that when Pia’s mother, Cheryl, was already married to Uwe Wurtzbach they invested a lot in Carmen Cagayan de Oro City because of the booming economy of the city.
“I don’t have ancestors from Cagayan de Oro (CdeO). Our family business [is] there in Iligan,” Pia said.
Pia was born on September 24, 1989 in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg,Germany. While their house in Cagayan de Oro was being constructed, Pia stayed for a while in the house of her grandparents in Iligan City where she had many childhood friends.
In Cagayan de Oro, she attended kindergarten at Kong Hua School and primary school at Corpus Christi.
Every now and then her family spent their vacations in Germany.
She transferred to Pasig City when she became an Avon model at the age of eleven. She attended secondary school there.
In elementary school, Pia had low self-esteem because some classmates often teased her height. She usually towered in the class. They called her ‘Piazilla’ which usually made her cry or kept her quiet in the classroom.
She said that during her grade school years, she was a timid and quite girl where her routine was school-home-school.
“At school, I was a wallflower. I was always the last person in [our] flag ceremony queue because I was the tallest in class. And it was difficult to have a crush because you are too tall for the boy,” Pia said laughing.
“No one would notice me [before]. Sobrang average lang talaga ako, walang pumapansin. Napaka-simple ko din. I don’t have circle of friends like others. In fact, I only have one [best] friend but we lost contact after we moved out [in] CdeO. Sobrang conservative kasi ng parents ko lalo na si mama,” she said.
But according to her aunt Olive, she earned their respect because she was so talented. She would join group-dancing presentations for school activities and she sang during her kindegarten graduation.
“She loved drawing Power Puff Girls in pieces of bond paper then sold it to her friends which added up to her "baon," her aunt said.
“She would watch her favorite movies over and over until she could memorize the dialogues and mimic each character. (Pocahontas, Mulan, you name it),” her aunt added.
She loved Barbie dolls and had acquired several to play with her younger sister Sarah.
“As a child she was very friendly and courteous, talented and very smart. At age 11, she was already experimenting on using lotions, shower gels and make ups. She was good at play station and even finished Tekken 4,” her aunt proudly said.
Even so, like any other normal kids, she also committed quite a lot of mischief.
‘Buko bar thief’
According to Pia, when she was still in Iligan City, she used to be the “buko bar thief” in [their] store.
“Nagnanakaw ako ng buko bar. Every time I [do] it, nagdadasal ako na sana di mahalatang may kumukuha o nababawasan yung tinda,” Pia said giggling.
She also said that she loves pastel.
“Kaya kong ubusin ang isang box pero ngayon diet na kasi. Pero kaya ko pa ding umubos. Gusto ko yung yema flavor,” she said.
She also recalled that her dad would bring her to Gaisano City Mall to buy her Barbie dolls.
“We always went there before. Kasi my dad would bribe me with Barbie dolls so I would behave,” she said.
But the most unforgettable of all the misdeeds she did was when she accidentally took a thousand pesos from her mom’s wallet.
“Kasi binibigay ni mama sa’kin na baon was 10. Kasi kasya na yun. Ngayon, nakulangan ako. I got money from her wallet. I did not realize that I got 1K. Natuwa ako dahil bida ako kasi I bought lots of foods. In an instant, dami kong friends. Pero nung pagdating ko sa bahay, my mom was about to fire the maid. Sobrang guilty ako nun. Of course, I admitted my mistake. I learned the value of a thousand pesos,” explained Pia.
“That was the first time I learned the value of money,” she said.
Living in the Metro
Pia said that when her mom and dad got separated, they went back to Malabon.
“I can still remember I was in Grade 5 when they got separated. My mom said we needed to go back to Manila kasi Cagayan de Oro reminded her so much of dad,” Pia recalled.
She said that from being average, she became an honor student when her parents separated.
“Maybe that was the case because I wanted to prove something. I was really motivated to do well at school,” she said.
Now, she is a graduate of Professional Culinary from Center for Asian Culinary Studies in San Juan, Metro Manila and a contributing writer of the Philippine Daily Inquirer lifestyle section where she make cosmetics review.
“I was discovered by accident,” pertaining to being a writer in PDI.
“They said, you know what, you can write. So I started with small stories. Hanggang sa kaya na, then I do the make up my self, sometimes ako yung writer, sometimes I am also the model and the writer,” she said.
“I do it once every two weeks, whenever there is a new brand of cosmetics to review. That started when I was the first runner up,” she added.
Becoming a beauty queen
Pia said that she didn’t realize that she wanted to join a pageant until she joined Binibining Pilipinas.
“I didn’t join any pageants before Bb. Pilipinas. Even in school, wala. I remember I joined searches or presentation at school where I represented a certain nation for instance, but I don’t consider it as a pageant,” Pia recounted.
She first joined last 2013 where she won first runner-up followed by her setback in 2014 where she landed on top 15.
“I thought I could make it. I was really hurt though. Then I took a break. And that’s when I realized that I really wanted it,” she said.
“When I became a runner-up, I told myself that I needed to get the crown. But the next try was unfortunate. But that didn’t stop me to join again. Maybe people would say ang kapal ng mukha ko after losing the second try, pero go pa din,” she said.
Truer to self
She said that this year, she became more of herself and not what people wanted her to be.
“I thought too much of what other people wanted me to become. I molded myself too much to the looks of the Ms. Universe. I tried to transform myself to something I was not,” she said.
Pia felt insecure, as she thought of herself as not possessing the real Filipino face – brown skinned and not having a pure Filipino blood.
In her third stint, she said that she embraced her looks.
“This year’s pageant, I taught to love myself. That this is how I talked and that my skin is not kayumanggi; thus I become more of myself,” she said.
She furthered that when she joined the pageant this year; she had a positive outlook and sighted herself to win.
“But when they called your name, it [is] still unbelievable. I was really astounded. I thought – Wow! It finally, actually happened to me. It’s nice to dream and when it happens, you’d be surprised and it was like in a split second your life changes,” she said.
“Of course I was also expecting the worst. Buti nalang that was not the case this year,” she said.
Asked what made her stand out from others she said that her courage in joining the pageant again.
“I was prepared for anything. That’s why I couldn’t say that it was only my perseverance that made me stood out from the rest but because I have all the courage in the world. You see, I was ready to lose, but I wanted people to see that I tried hard and not let other people’s criticism bring me down because when I want something, I don’t stop until I get what I want,” Pia said.
But apart from being a beauty queen, Pia is the same girl her family and friends know.
‘Oro my second home’
“I chose to represent Cagayan de Oro because it’s where I spent most of my growing up years. And although my work has forced me to focus more on Tagalog, my fluency in Bisaya had to suffer, CdeO is still very close to my heart,” she said.
“I have a lot of memories there and I feel most at ease when I’m home – in Cagayan de Oro.
And to those Kagay-anons who want to join beauty pageants and know in their hearts that they can, then do not hesitate. If I made it, you can do too. All you need is a lot of hard work and perseverance. And don’t ever give up,” she added.