07 July 2006
when lia andrea “lian” ramos arrives in los angeles for the 55th annual miss universe pageant this month, filipino fans and supporters may be in for a surprise.
the reigning bb. pilipinas-universe has undergone a month-long dramatic makeover under colombian pageant gurus javier murillo (stylist) and alfredo barraza (designer).
not that she has undergone surgery (she did not).
but lian, 25, certainly looks different from the girl who had won the miss philippines-universe crown at the araneta coliseum in quezon city four months ago.
it was the idea of miss international 1960 stella marquez-araneta, miss universe franchise holder for the philippines, to send lian to bogota.
after winning on march 19, lian was immediately rushed to undergo a more difficult fitness regimen at gold’s gym-glorietta (makati) for two months.
she also received personality development training from dale carnegie, as well as catwalk, fitness and styling tips from her mentor-discoverer jonas gaffud, and from her friends boyet blas (scion of aling miling blas of the now-defunct lea productions) and nad bronce.
several former bb. pilipinas titleholders also took turns in training her.
lian said miss international 2005 precious lara quigaman’s advice was: “be confident and natural, and believe in yourself. there will be a lot of beautiful candidates. you have to believe you are as beautiful as those other women.”
still, the people behind bb. pilipinas charities Inc. (bpci) felt that there’s something missing.
a colombian makeover may indeed be the missing link to make miss philippines stand out more against the usual latina and blonde favorites.
but there are critics back home who countered that a trip to colombia was totally unnecessary. after all, the philippines has more beauty titles than colombia.
to date, the country has produced two miss universe winners — gloria diaz won in 1969, while margarita moran bagged the crown in 1973.
both winners had achieved victories even without training overseas.
in contrast, colombia has produced only one, luz marina zuluaga (1958).
aside from winning miss universe twice, the philippines has also won the miss international crown four times: gemma cruz in 1964, aurora pijuan in 1970, melanie marquez in 1979 and quigaman last year.
the country has also won countless other titles, runner-up finishes and special awards in international pageants.
only venezuela, the united states, puerto rico, brazil, india, australia, the united kingdom and sweden have approximated or exceeded the philippines’ track record in winning pageants.
in addition, the philippines has many world-class designers (joji lloren, monique lhuillier, among others), stylists and creative artists who can prepare our local delegates. but even these talents have never been tapped.
from 1999 to 2006, the philippines has been sending delegates to colombia with mixed results.
only miriam quiambao (miss universe 1999 1st runner-up) turned out to be the big winner among the overseas-trained filipino beauties.
with so much infighting among fashion stalwarts in the country, there were those who believed that it may be a total nightmare to handpick which luminary should be given the responsibility of training filipina delegates.
everyone’s going to be just-too-thrilled to take the job. It may also be logical for araneta to tap her friends murillo and barraza for lian’s training to avert such controversy.
it remains to be seen whether colombia has increased lian’s chances at winning the philippines’ 3rd miss universe crown.
for lian, her dramatic makeover is certainly not enough. she is counting on her filipino and filipino-american fans and supporters (especially those who live around the u.s. west coast) to cheer for her during the miss universe presentation night on july 23 (sunday) at 7 p.m. at the shrine auditorium in los angeles, since the judges will be selecting the semifinalists on that day, not during the finals.
(The finals will be aired live in the U.S. on July 23 on NBC.)
“it is more important to have gazillions of philippine supporters during the presentation show,” lian's mentors declare. “the decision to narrow down the delegates to the top 15 will happen there.”
reports on lian’s makeover began circulating in newspapers and pageant websites. she has generated mostly positive reviews from local and international pageant fans.
photos reveal a leaner, perkier lia andrea ramos.
murillo and barazza may have perfected the ideal make-up, hairstyle and fitness regimen for her.
her new look made her appear as a cross between sophia loren and miss universe 2000, india’s lara dutta. an oriental latina, she has become.
pageant experts noted that lian’s chances will also get a boost from her impressive credentials.
lian has a b.a. political science degree from the university of the philippines in diliman, where she was an officer of several campus social and political organizations.
immediately after graduation, she worked as a visa officer for the royal norwegian embassy in manila.
a few years later, she became an assistant program officer at asia foundation. one of her notable projects at asia foundation involved the supervision of sustained learning and skills enhancement in information technology (i.t.) among philippine court judges, which enabled her to develop further awareness on pressing issues such as jail decongestion, trafficking of women and children and hiv awareness.
born and raised in davao city, the 5’7 ramos is also an alumna of ateneo de davao primary school and high school.
lian is doubly excited to compete in los angeles since her parents ferdinand ramos of davao city, and rosalia aquino from cagayan valley are now l.a.-based. most of her siblings will be there too.