It's been 23 years since the Philippines last hosted the Miss Universe pageant—since Miss Philippines Charlene Gonzales gave a witty "high tide or low tide" remark during the question and answer portion; since Miss Belgium Kristelle Roelandts became the crowd favorite despite not making it to the semi finals; since Madame Auring wrongly predicted that Roelandts or Miss Venezuela Minorka Mercado will take home the crown; and since India won the title for the first time, in the person of Sushmita Sen.
So what was the country like when Miss Universe 1993 Dayanara Torres crowned Sen as her successor? Let's take a walk down memory lane:
1. Hosting the pageant was already costly. For the 1994 Miss Universe pageant, it cost the Philippines $5.3 Million for the whole event, which would make it equivalent to around $8.5 Million today, factoring in inflation.
2. Fan votes were non-existent. As the Philippines was relatively new to the internet then, fans can only cheer for their favorite candidates on TV or (if lucky) at the venue itself. Getting access to Miss Universe updates was limited to traditional media.
3. Margie Moran was busy rebranding Davao. After graduating cum laude from Maryknoll College, and completing a master’s degree at the University of London, Miss Universe 1973 Margie Moran settled in Davao and helped in developing Pearl Farm Beach resort and rebranding Davao as a tourist hotspot.
4. EDSA was less congested. Even with the absence of a few key flyovers and an MRT system, traveling around Metro Manila was way easier back then. Candidates had a breeze sticking to their itineraries.
5. Pia Wurtzbach was starting her showbiz career. Before she was an accomplished beauty queen, she was this girl full of dreams: Starting as Pia Romero, a child actor under Star Magic. Who would have known that she would bring home the crown? Her reaction during the coronation night sums up her career:
[related: Beauty Throwback: Pia Wurtzbach Was Once "Pia Romero"]
6. Steve Harvey has just gotten his big break. After years of being a standup comedian, Harvey got his first big break as a host for television show Showtime at the Apollo. This part of his career was so significant; he was even tapped to host the show’s revival 16 years after his stint on it.
7. Boyz II Men launched one of their best-selling albums. As they were making a name for themselves, their sophomore effort II became one of the best-selling albums at the time, garnering 12X Platinum in the United States, and later on winning Best R&B Album at the Grammys. Hits like “On Bended Knee” and “I’ll Make Love To You” propelled them to superstar status.
8. Chavit Singson was governor of Ilocos Sur. Before leading in making Miss Universe 2016 in Manila possible, Singson was busy with politics, in addition to building his business empire and in playing a role in preserving Vigan City. Even during his days as a politician, tourism and culture were among his top priorities, spending his fortune on where it matters the most.
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Photographs from Instagram.com/sushmitasen47 and mycitymysm.com