Malacañang on Saturday urged Filipinos to support beauty queen Maxine Medina, who will represent the country in the 65th Miss Universe pageant’s coronation show on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City starting at 8 a.m.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Medina deserves all “morale boosts” Filipinos can give for her hard work in participating in the prestigious beauty tilt, which the Philippines is hosting for the first time since 1994.
The winner of the pageant will inherit the crown from the reigning Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach, who steps down after being the Philippines’ first titlist in the beauty pageant in 43 years.
Medina hopes to be the fourth Filipina to win the event after Wurtzbach, Margie Moran in 1973 and Gloria Diaz in 1969.
“We convey our most heartfelt felicitations for all the Miss Universe candidates, and especially cheer and throw our support for the Ms. Philippines candidate, Maxine Medina, who deserves all the morale boosts she can get for working very hard and giving her best in a competition that promotes goodwill and friendship among nations,” Abella said.
Medina, 26, was in top form as she attempts a back-to-back victory for the country in the event, twirling and strutting down the stage at the Mall of Asia Arena during the preliminary competitions last Thursday in an emerald long gown and a green-white striped swimsuit.
“As the country’s representative, Maxine is able to show the beauty, warmth, hope and dignity of the Filipino. We are truly proud of her,” Duterte’s spokesperson said.
Abella said the government is extending its “heartfelt felicitations” to Medina and for the rest of the 86 candidates, who came from their respective countries to Manila for the beauty tilt.
“We are also grateful for this experience of hosting the pageant, assured and confident that the 2016 Miss Universe experience has been joyful and memorable for all the candidates and our foreign guests,” Abella said.
“We invite them to come back and bring more of their friends to explore the various islands of the Philippines, ready to be astonished of the unexhausted beauty of each one, and willing to be moved in every way by the fervent spirit of the Filipino people, and so we say, ‘Mabuhay!’” Abella said.
American comedian Steve Harvey is hosting the pageant once again, a year after the memorable snafu in which he mistakenly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner over Wurtzbach live on camera.
Harvey, who arrived in Manila on Saturday morning, admitted the error and went back on stage to announce Miss Philippines as the real winner.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo assured Filipinos welcomed Harvey “with open arms and without any reservation” despite last year’s hosting gaffe.
“The popular American actor-comedian has millions of excited”‹ fans in the Philippines who look forward to having him emcee the 65th Miss Universe Coronation on Monday, when the universes tunes in on this thrilla in Manila,” Teo said.
“We assure everyone that, when you are with Filipinos, we embrace you as family. We are so happy, honored and proud to have Mr. Harvey in the Philippines,” the tourism chief added.
Joining Harvey as co-host is model Ashley Graham, along with performances from Grammy Award-winning R&B group Boyz II Men and pop-rap star Flo Rida.
Hosting the Miss Universe pageant in the country will positively affect the country’s tourism industry, the Department of Tourism said previously.