edmund silvestre, the paper's news editor, was my seatmate in college. he asked me to write an article enticing filipinos and filipino-americans to support lia andrea ("lian") ramos, the current miss philippines. edmund provided the "make-over" angle in my article.
by sheer coincidence, lian was a blockmate of my former students at the university of the philippines (u.p.). born and raised in davao city, she was discovered at u.p. diliman by geographer/stylist jonas gaffud, philippine house of representatives officer roentgen ("nad") bronce and businessman fidelio ("boyet") blas. gaffud and bronce were student leaders in u.p. during the mid-1990s. blas is the youngest son of film mogul emilia blas. mrs. blas operated lea productions. lea produced quality filipino films (e.g. lino brocka's santiago, stardoom, tubog sa ginto, ano ang kulay ng mukha ng diyos?) from the 1960s till the 1980s. along with arnold orosa, gaffud, bronce and blas are the movers behind the hugely-popular mabuhay beauties website.
jonas and nad had been convincing lian to join bb. pilipinas since 2001. but lian had too many organizational commitments as a student leader. most importantly, she wanted to finish her political science degree. and when she finally did, she began working as a visa officer for the royal norwegian embassy in manila. soon after, she became assistant program officer for asia foundation. at asia foundation, lian embarked on numerous projects with the supreme court of the philippines involving sustained information technology (i.t.) learning and skills enhancement among court judges nationwide.
another friend, zorayda ("zora") andam, now works with angara, abello, concecpcion, regala and cruz (accra) law offices. she completed her law degree at u.p. and passed the bar exams immediately after she completed her reign as bb. pilipinas universe 2001. recently, she figured prominently as part of the all-woman prosecution panel in the high-profile subic rape case involving six united states servicemen. arguing that celebrities like zora can use their high visibility to work on certain advocacies, jonas and nad finally convinced lian to join this year's bb. pilipinas.
lian arrived yesterday at the wilshire grand hotel in los angeles to compete as philippine representative to the 2006 miss universe pageant. pageants are a big thing in the philippines, thailand, korea and in many latin american countries. very few people would remember that two australians won titles 34 years ago. in 1972, perth's kerry ann wells became miss universe while sydney's belinda green was crowned miss world. pageants lost their popularity in australia until jennifer hawkins (current host of channel 7's the great outdoors) became miss universe in 2004.
i have attached below an early draft of the article edmund will be publishing for the filipino reporter's print edition (year 34, no. 30 / july 7-13, 2006, p.1). friends have remarked that i have been writing too many serious narratives lately. for this week, i have decided to write something light and easy. i wouldn't mind doing this occasionally for friends like edmund, lian, jonas, nad and boyet.