MISS Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen of India, who won when the pageant was last held in the country, arrived in Manila on Thursday to be one of the judges of the 65th Miss Universe pageant on Jan. 30.
The beauty queen expressed her joy on returning to the Philippines, saying it’s like her second home and that the hospitality of Filipinos has not changed.
But the 41-year-old beauty queen who later became an actress was surprised to see the changes at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
She said she told her companions she would show them how the airport works upon landing.
“Suddenly, when we came here, I didn’t recognize anything,” Sen said, adding that the airport has changed so much.
The Indian film actress told journalists she remembered the question that was asked of her during the semifinals of the 1994 pageant: “What is the essence of being a woman?”
She said she understands her reply—“the origin of a child is a mother, and is a woman”—better now that she has two daughters of her own. “That [motherhood] is a lifelong commitment,” she noted.
Sen said she is looking forward to seeing former Miss Universes. “I know Dayanara [Torres] is here. I was also hoping to see Charlene [Gonzales],” she said.
Torres is currently in Manila to be one of the judges in the pageant’s preliminary competition.
She was the 1993 Miss Universe who crowned Sen 23 years ago.
Charlene Gonzales, meanwhile, represented the country during the 1994 pageant. Though Sen admitted she’s not friends with her, she said she will never forget how nice and helpful Gonzales was to her.
Sen also said she’s very thankful for the opportunity to come back to the Philippines, and for the opportunity to help crown the next Miss Universe.