PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte admitted being overwhelmed by the most beautiful women in the world on Monday and wish that day when he can forget about the burdens of his office “will never end.”
“I must say that God is really good. Aside from the worries of governance, all the troubles in the world, when we look at you, we forget the universe,” the President said when 84 candidates of the 65th Miss Universe pageant paid him a courtesy call at Malacañan Palace.
“I usually do not read my speeches but I have to this time because they told me that I must behave in my language, in the adjectives that I would be using to characterize or define your beauty, all of you,” the President said.
“I’d like to make an admission that never in my life have I been in a room this full of beautiful women. This is both a privilege and an honor and I hope this day will never end,” Duterte said to the laughter and applause of his audience.
The President thanked the Miss Universe Organization for allowing the Philippines to host again the 65th edition of the most prestigious international competition.
“I hope that the contestants had a wonderful time visiting places such as Vigan, Cebu, Baguio, Batangas and Davao. It is truly a great honor for us to be sharing you your most beautiful destinations including the rich culture and history behind each of these gems,” the President added.
The Philippines, which already produced three Miss Universe title holders, hosted the Miss Universe Pageant in 1974 and 1994.
“It is an event which has undeniably brought enormous pride and joy for the countries of winning candidates. We all share of fame to our very own Ms. Gloria Diaz, Ms. Margarita Moran, and the reigning Ms. Pia Wurtzbach,” Duterte said.
Diaz brought home the country’s first Miss Universe title in 1969 while Moran won again in 1973 and Wurtzbach brought back the prestigious title only in 2015.
“More than presenting beauty and brains, the Miss Universe competition or any beauty contestant for that matter is an opportunity for you to represent your country, to promote your advocacies, and to advance women empowerment to a greater audience,” Duterte said.
With a glass of water in his hand, Duterte said, “That’s the end of my speech but there’s something more that I must do. May I just give you a toast, by myself, to your beauty and to your brains. Mabuhay kayong lahat [Long live all of you].”
Eighty four candidates, including Philippine bet Maxine Medina, were accompanied by Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Miss Universe Organization’s Paula Shugart and LCS Group of Companies’ former Ilocos Sur governor Chavit Singson.
Miss Universe Finland and Miss Universe Switzerland meanwhile, were not present at the event as they are feeling under the weather.
“Because of the heat, the candidates [they’re getting sick],” Teo told reporters with a hoarse voice during the sidelines of the event. “Miss Finland and Switzerland … They need to rest upon the doctor’s advice. It’s too hot, they haven’t adopted yet with the weather.”
“We [the organizers] are sick because of the sleepless nights,” she added. The pageant is scheduled for Jan. 30 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.