Friday, September 17, 2021

Cold Baguio weather greets Miss Universe candidates

A CHILLY mountain temperature welcomed reigning Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach and the 28 international beauties as they arrived in Baguio City, Wednesday, January 18.

Weather in the Summer Capital dipped to a freezing 9 degrees, with groups braving the cold as early as 5 a.m. to greet the Miss Universe candidates at the Loakan airport.

The beauties were welcomed by Mayor Maurico Domogan, city officials, and the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) led by its president, Anthony De Leon, general manager of the Baguio Country Club.

“This is a very rare occasion where the beauties of the world are here,” Domogan said. The highland welcome is most unique, setting the city apart from the rest of the local hosts with the mini version of the annual flower festival prepared for the one day affair, he added.

Seventy cadets from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 2018 wowed the candidates with a silent drill exhibition at the airport. Another 30 stood and drew their swords to line the path for candidates upon landing.

Before the drill ended, PMA cadets gave roses to Miss Australia - Caris Tivel, Miss Columbia – Jealisse Andrea Tovar Velasques, Miss Peru – Veleria Piazza Vasquez, Miss Puerto Rico – Brenda Azaria Jimenes Hernandez, Miss Spain – Nohelia Freirie Benito, Miss Albania – Lindita Idrizi, Miss Aruba – Charlene Leslie, Miss Barbados – Shannon Harris, Miss France – France Mittenaire, Miss Guam – Muneka Joy Cruz Taisipic, Miss Haiti – Raquel Pellisier, Miss Israel – Yam Kaspers Anshel, Miss Italy –Sophia Sergio, Miss Kenya – Mary Esther Were, Miss Korea – Jenny Kim, Miss Kosovo – Camila Barraza, Miss Malta – Martha Fenech, Miss Mauritus – Kushoo Ramnawaj, Miss New Zealand – Tania Dawson, Miss Norway – Chirstina Waage, Miss Slivenia – Lucija Potocnik, Miss South Africa – Ntandoyenkosi Witess Kunene, Miss Sweden – Ida Ovmar, Miss US Virgin Islands – Carolyn Carter, Miss Denmark – Christina Dalgaard Mikkelsen, Miss Finland – Shily Karvinen, Miss Canada – Siera Lacee Bearchell and Miss Japan – Sari Nakazawa.

“We are very glad na nakasama kami sa pag-welcome ng Baguio City dito sa ating mga candidates. Baguio is very fortunate na mapili as one venue for the event, let us maximize it,” PMA Information officer Reynaldo Balido said.

Roads in the city were closed early morning to prepare for the mini version of the flower festival with four floats and eight street dancing contingents ready for the exhibition performance for the international visitors.

A contingent of 5,000 composed of schools, groups and officials paraded with the candidates along the stretch of Upper Session road until the Baguio Country Club to the delight of the waiting crowd.

Special cheers went to Miss New Zealand’s Tania Dawson, who traced her roots from the city with her mother, Margarita Palabay being born here and maintains a family home in Kias.

Palabay with a small contingent of her family joined the crowd to support her daughter whom she is hopeful to become the next reigning queen.

“Talented at magaling ang anak ko, we are praying she will get the crown,” Palabay said.

Palabay, born in the city but was raised in Sta Maria, Tayug, Pangasinan said a series of prayer novenas will be held for the success of her daughter.

“We also want to go to Manaoag to pray and offer candles for her,” added Palabay.

Baguio City Police office traffic chief Freddie Lazona estimated a crowd of over 20,000 who lined the streets to watch the beauties wave to the crowd atop flower-decked floats especially prepared for the one day affair.

Sitting at the Panagbenga Park along South Drive, 87–year–old Corazon Nonez said she waited for this moment to personally see the Miss Universe candidates in Baguio City.

“Gusto kong makita ang mga Miss Universe delegates na magaganda,” she said adding it’s her second time to witness the pageant, being part of the crowd when it was held in Manila in 1974.

Fifty-two–year–old Leato Agrano also wanted to watch the beauties of the world.

“First time na makakita sa mga delegates ngayon at gusto rin naming makita si Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach,” Agrano added.

Foreign nationals also waited and wanted to witness the candidates parade the city streets. “I want to see what is their impression about Baguio and if they become first, what will they say about Baguio and what are they gonna do,” Korean An Som Won said.

Chinese national Michael Young said “I wish that there is Miss China. I want to see the very beautiful (Ms China) and tell her to enjoy her stay in Baguio City." (With Ian Jefrey Addatu and Elamae Membrere)

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