MANILA (PhilAmPress) — After some flipflopping, the Philippines after all will be hosting the Miss Universe pageant at the Mall of Asia on January 30, 2017.
And controversial Miss Universe host Steve Harvey will be there, too.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte approved in principle the hosting by the Philippines of the pageant, prompting officials of the organization, including reigning Miss Universe crown holder Filipino-German Pia Wurtzbach to fly to Manila to discuss the event with President Duterte and officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Wurtzbach is the third Filipina to win the crown, along with Margie Moran in 1973 and Gloria Diaz in 1969.
The country will be fielding Maxine Medina, a 25-year-old interior designer who has been modelling since 2008, in next year’s pageant. She will attempt to succeed Wurtzbach, the first Filipina to win the title in over four decades.
When President Duterte learned that the hosting would entail $11 million for the production host alone, the Chief Executive reportedly backed out.The president said he was not in favor of the proposal and will not spend money for the pageant.
Duterte explained that the government has other more important things to focus their attention, including infrastructure projects.
But when he was assured that the cost will be borne by the private sector sponsors, Duterte relented provided the government will not spend a single centavo for the event, except for the security cost to be provided by the police and other law enforcers.
“The Miss Universe beauty pageant will be on Jan. 30, 2017 here in the Philippines,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo said at a press conference at the DOT headquarters in Makati City.
“We have a President that comes from Mindanao and our Miss Universe is from Mindanao so I think it is the best time for us to do Miss Universe in the Philippines,” she added.
Duterte hails from Davao City while reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach hails from Cagayan De Oro City.
Teo said that the private sector will be shouldering production costs of the pageant estimated at US$11 million which will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
She, however, withheld the names of private companies which have confirmed shouldering the expenses but assured that she will reveal the names soon.
Secretary Teo said that ancillary Miss Universe events will possibly be held the country’s top tourist destinations namely Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Boracay, Cebu, Palawan and Vigan.
Tourism Undersecretary for Media Affairs Katherine De Castro stressed that the President never gave “no” for an answer when the idea of hosting the pageant was first proposed.
“There was never a ‘no’ from the President. His major concern was spending. But when we assure him that there will be no funding from the government, he said okay. We don’t know when the news report came that he didn’t like it,” De Castro said.
She said that the DOT was initially privy on the details of officially hosting the pageant since it was waiting for the administrative order to be signed by the President.
However, the Tourism Secretary later sought Malacanang’s permission to finally announce the date to clarify that it will indeed push through.
De Castro said that the DOT has also gotten in touch with the Miss Universe Organization Vice President for Business Development and Marketing Shawn McClain to clarify the misunderstanding.
Teo earlier said that the country’s hosting of the Miss Universe pageant would give a big boost to businesses and livelihood of millions of Filipinos.
She further said that she expects the tourism industry to “gain tremendously” from it.
The Philippines already hosted the Miss Universe pageant twice in 1974 and 1994.
Harvey will be the host of the next Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines despite his infamous blunder in the previous edition wherein he named the wrong winner.
Harvey told the Miss Universe organization that he wants to personally apologize to Filipinos after making a hash of announcing the country’s bet Pia Wurtzbach as the new title-holder, Undersecretary Kat de Castro said.In December, Harvey mistakenly named Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the new Miss Universe, when the title was supposed to go to Wurtzbach. He has since asked for forgiveness from both the Filipina beauty queen and Gutierrez.
“He wants to apologize to the Filipinos who were hurt because of what happened,” de Castro said, adding that President Duterte was surprised to learn that Harvey will be returning as host.
“Nagulat din siya. Sabi niya, ‘Bakit?’ Dagdag pa niya, ‘He is a disaster.’ Ginanun ako ni Presidente. Eh sabi ko, ‘Sir, mukhang iyon na po talaga ang naging desisyon ng mga taga-Miss Universe.’ Tumawa na lang siya,” de Castro shared.
According to reports from American news outlets, Harvey has a multi-year contract with Miss Universe, which he signed just days before the 2015 pageant aired. The contract states that the deal is to last three years, possibly even as many as seven.