For the 65th Miss Universe competition, 86 beautiful candidates visited Cebu last Tuesday. Over 5,000 school children greeted the arrival of the candidates and as early as 5 a.m., they were already posted on the streets of Lapu-Lapu City wearing costumes of various participating countries and dancing to the beat of Sinulog. Despite the changing of the weather forecast from a sunny to slightly scattered rains, the children never failed to show enthusiasm and impressed the candidates with the festivity of Cebu.
Upon arriving at JPark Island and Waterpark Resort in Lapu-Lapu City, the candidates were greeted by a few Sinulog dancers posted along the hallway. They might have missed the Sinulog by two days, but they still got a taste of it.
The candidates then proceeded to eat their breakfast and posed for a photoshoot with little girls dressed as little Miss Universes.
After the photoshoot, the swimwear presentation, which is the first major event preceding the coronation night, commenced and the candidates gracefully walked the runway wearing Yamamay swimsuits, an Italian brand which is the official sponsor for the swimwear of this year’s candidates.
The swimwear presentation that was supposed to be held in the garden area of JPark was moved indoors to the Triton Ballroom of the resort because of the weather. The huge ballroom area was divided into two parts—one reserved as the dressing room for the candidates while the other part was used as the event area. Surprisingly, the ballroom was still gigantic.
Despite the fact that the area was estimated to seat 600 people, the event was witnessed by even more than that because some people opted to stand just to witness such historic event.
The contestants wore five kinds of one-piece swimsuit designs. There were blue-colored swimsuits with open back and a sexy ribbon front, turquoise-colored swimsuits with print written on the front stating “No Pictures Please” which added attitude to its open back, silver-toned swimsuits which interestingly reflect light and present colors of the rainbow instead. Other contestants wore a black striped swimsuit which molded the body forming bigger busts and another black one-piece swimsuit with print stating “52 Team Miss” which emphasizes the athletic features of the candidates wearing them.
The crowd was quite difficult to please as they sat silently watching the different beautiful ladies representing their own countries walking down the runway. The one who gathered the most reaction was Miss Philippines Maxine Medina, who had a homecourt advantage. Other candidates who received whistles and loud applause were Miss Colombia Andrea Tovar, Miss Thailand Chalita Suansane, Miss Poland Izabella Krzan, Miss Portugal Flavia Brito, Miss Puerto Rico Brenda Jimenez, Miss Korea Jenny Kim, Miss Sierra Leone Hawa Kamara and Miss USA Deshauna Barber.
A few candidates almost tripped and fell while walking down the runway in very high heels. These were Miss Slovenia Lucija Potocnik and Miss Vietnam Dang Thi Li Hang, who gestured an apology to the crowd, but continued to walk and garnered loud applause for showing grace under pressure.
After the swimsuit presentation, some of the candidates proceeded to do a few promotional shots around the resort and 12 of them traveled to SM Seaside City Cebu to visit sponsors Uniqlo and Flawless.
Dressed in Uniqlo jeans, tops and jacket, the dozen candidates who met with media and bloggers at SM Seaside City were Miss Bahamas Cherell Williamson, Miss Argentina Estefania Bernal, Miss Namibia Lizelle Esterhuizen, Miss Czech Republic Andrea Bezdekova, Miss Slovak Republic Zuzana Kollarova, Miss Georgia Nuka Karalashvili, Miss Romania Teodora Dan, Miss Indonesia Kezia Warouw, Miss Malaysia Kiran Jassal, Miss India Roshmitha Harimurthy, Miss Singapore Cheryl Chou and Miss Venezuela Mariam Habach.
After the visit, the contestants walked the runway again after dinner for a fashion show wearing designs by local fashion designers.
After the fashion show, a few of the candidates boarded the plane for their next activity while more than half of the candidates stayed for a meet-and-greet with some of the guests of the resort during the DJ Party.
Among the guests were former Ilocos Sur governor Chavit Singson, reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo with Undersecretary Kat de Castro, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza and Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.
Overall, the event was a success, said Shawn McClain, vice president of business development and marketing of the Miss Universe Organization. He thanked the Cebuanos for their hospitality.
“This is a true privilege to get to see such a wonderful country with wonderful people. You get off the plane in the Philippines, there’s just a different feeling you get compared to other countries in other places. There are smiles everywhere and people are very accepting,” said McClain.
“What we’re seeing is everyone coming together and contributing to spreading this entertainment event and putting the Philippines in a very positive light in front of the whole world.”
McClain also said of Wurtzbach: “It’s somehow bitter-sweet because she has grown so much as a professional and so much as a representative of the past year and at the end of all this, we’re going to crown her successor. She has been an amazing representative and she has done so much for the Philippines in the past year, spreading messages around the world and we’re thanking you for lending her to us for a year and now you can have her back.”