Day 7: Putting the UN in Miss Universe

Gloria Diaz, first Filipina to win the Miss Universe pageant. 1969.

While preparations are underway in the Philippines for the next Miss Universe, preparations are underway in North Korea on how to annihilate the universe.

What!?! How can we all be in the same solar system when some countries are completely out of this planet? I can’t believe the future leaves me with two options: Miss Venezuela winning the 2018 crown or the end of the world.

To survive, we’ve got one choice: world peace.

How? Let’s re-invent the Miss Universe beauty pageant, made up of the international ambassadors for world peace, and merge it with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, which are the actual international ambassadors for world peace.

The synergies are there. Hear me out.

1) The Miss Universe competition is held in more than 190 countries worldwide. The UN General Assembly has 193 member states. It’s a merger of equals. In fact the new organisation will be a real beauty-and-brains outfit. Sometimes half and half.

2) The Miss Universe competition attracts an audience of half a billion people. The UN General Assembly? Five. Combining the two will give the UN a much bigger audience.

Besides, it’s been 65 years since Miss Universe first started and 72 years since the UN General Assembly had its first meeting.

We are wayyyy overdue for world peace.

3) UN speeches are so boring there needs to be some fabulous entertainment in between. Let’s throw a talent segment into the mix.

4) Raising funds for international aid and disaster recovery will be much easier. Nobody does fundraisings and sponsorship deals like beauty queens can.

Do you know how much those evening gowns cost?

5) On swimsuits. In the age of #fitspo, this segment is unnecessary. They all look stunning.

However, if it takes a two-piece to keep the planet in one piece, then I am happy to reconsider. Let’s keep the dialogue open.

6) On the Q&A segment. That scary moment when no words would come out of your mouth? When your brain goes haywire under the glare of the spotlight and you can’t think?

If the pageant is run like the UN, this problem will go away. The United Nations Q&As are so long we would have all blanked out before any of the candidates hit a mental blank.

7) Proximity breeds babies. By mixing beauty queens with brainiacs, we are boosting the gene pool and cutting costs on cosmetic surgeries.

Stop. It’s time for a commercial break.

I have a love-hate relationship with beauty pageants because my only claim to fame, the only celebrity I know who I’m remotely related to is … Gloria Diaz, yes, she who is the first Filipina to be crowned Miss Universe back in 1969. She won Miss Swimsuit, too.

Gloria’s dad is Jaime Baltazar Diaz. I’ve got Miss Universe in my blood! 😀

I found out my paternal grandfather is a first-degree cousin of Jaime Baltazar-Diaz, Gloria’s dad. Her entire family hails from La Union, Aringay in the Philippines, home of all the Baltazars I’m related to so, while she doesn’t know I exist, I’m still going to call her tita.

That is why when I see Instagram celeb and Philippine It Girl @isabelledaza’s IG feeds (Isabelle is Gloria’s daughter), I say to myself: “Looking fabulous, cuz!”

But I digress. Commercial break finished.

Finally, reason number eight: the most compelling reason to combine the two is so that we can finally retire this mean stereotype that beauty queens are a bunch of airheads.

Nothing like a nuclear warhead discussion to sharpen your intellect.

To conclude, putting the UN in Miss Universe will double our chances of managing the North Korea crisis and fast-track our route to world peace.

Think about that while I adjust my (tita Gloria’s) crown.


Post-Script: I woke up this morning to news about the terrible tragedy that happened in Las Vegas. While the story broke yesterday, more information trickled in overnight that made me feel even more saddened and horrified. I have made it a rough rule of thumb not to react and post about every tragic news, if I can help it, on Facebook. There’s practically one everyday. If it’s not war, it’s famine. If it’s not about a natural disaster, it’s about terrorism. What to make of a world so connected that we find out about senseless human violence more than a human heart can absorb? Just because I don’t react immediately on Facebook doesn’t mean I don’t care, it’s because I choose to grieve privately.

I continue this exercise of writing a blog a day and I hope that you can understand that the topic I choose to write about might not necessarily be the same topic that occupies are collective minds on a day-to-day basis.

Inbound expectations

“I’ve done the New York marathon. I can do THIS.”

– Cameron Diaz in What Happens in Vegas

It’s 11.30am, Sydney time, and I think I’m a quarter away from arriving in Manila. I spent most of last night figuring out what to pack and I’m pretty sure with two First Aid Kits, ultra sonic mosquito repellant, flashlight and a double pack of Nurofen, I can now go on holiday and go to war. Technically, this is a war I’ve waged on myself. Will I actually allow myself to have fun and not think about the million projects I have planned? (Sidebar: the new Philippine Airlines plane is very comfortable, I’m loving the options of movies, I’m watching a Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher romcom at the moment. The pull out tray also has a cup holder – very cool – and I’m just glad that the passenger on 32A has decided not to fully recline his seat means I’m not all crunched up in my seat).

Anyway, going back to my blog. I’ve decided to style this in the spirit of Mark Twain’s traveling blog. Long, detailed blogs. Anti-twitter if you like. Very indulgent.

Well yesterday was very last year. Today is a new day and a new year. I almost missed my flight and there’s a small chance that my 23kg luggage is still in Sydney. I know that I have smoothly transitioned from Filipino to Filipino-Australian when, upon weighing, my luggage is a couple of kilos below the bag limit. Even my hand carry is embarrassingly lightweight. I can drag it with just one hand and I’m not faking the look of comfort in my face carrying it around. And I don’t look over my shoulder thinking the luggage limit police will snap me up and imprison me for repeated misconduct and disrespect of luggage rules.

So I will be arriving in Manila shortly, I’ve already set my iPad time to 9:47am, Manila time. I just gained two hours! woo hoo!

How I Met My Future Husband, I mean, the President

She’s just an ordinary girl standing in front of an extraordinary man. But will he let down his (security) guard?

When it comes to eligible bachelors in Sydney, it is slim pickings out there. That’s why I decided to go for an easier catch, the President of the Philippines.

My babe was in Sydney for two days. Some people might say that’s too short a time to forge a lasting relationship but in budgie’s years, two days means three years so, technically, I’d be taking it slow.

There’s one little detail to take care of. Before I could become his First Lady, I had to get a First Date. And I wasn’t sure his security detail was briefed about that.

The mission was simple. All I had to do was get past his Secret Service agents, his delegation, Members of his Cabinet and Government officials. Oh, and the 1,000-plus other Filipinos who were scheduled to welcome him at a venue in Campbelltown.

I also had to figure out how to get to Campbelltown.

There was another option, which I ended up taking. Go to the Shangri-La hotel where he had a speaking engagement in front of a smaller crowd.

Alas, no luck. Lots of people there, too.

Time was ticking.

Look! There’s Ricky Carandang! He is His Excellency’s Press Secretary and a hotshot editor in a previous life.

I told myself, Quick, tell him you want to marry the President!

Okay, I didn’t say that out loud. Ricky graciously chit-chatted with me and a few other people for half an hour. By that time, I figured PNoy has left the building and I should call it a night.

Then it happened. The same time I was exiting the hotel, who should I bump into at the foyer?

I told myself, Quick, say something!

But I was paralysed. As he walked past me, flanked by his security staff, I stood aside, invisible like a corner pot plant.

Then a few seconds later, my journalistic instincts kicked into gear and I followed him (When I say him, I mean him and 12 other men in black).

I wore a canary yellow dress so I couldn’t have blended that easily among the sea of suits, yet, probably because I go to church on Sundays, nobody noticed.

Five minutes into the walk I gently tapped one of his minders on the shoulder and asked, “Sir, can I please have a photo with the President?” (Filipina translation: Is he single and can I ask him out?)

To which the guy in a suit answered: “Sorry, Ma’am. Hindi po puwede.”

Well, I had to do something for my unborn children.

I leaned to his left, looked straight across to PNoy who was a few metres away and shouted, “Mr. President, can I please take a photo with you?”

The secret service agents froze. Collective sharp intake of breath. One guy talked to his walkie-talkie as if he was in a scene from The Bourne Identity.

Then PNoy smiled, nodded his head, handed my camera to one of his staff and said “You look familiar.”

Score! Three words I’ve been waiting to hear all my life!

Wait. That’s not it. And maybe he vaguely recognised me because I had been following him around as part of the press pack for the past ten hours. In heels.

I took three steps forward, smiled and posed next to him. Click.

My mom’s voice was ringing in my ears: “Isa pa at baka nakapikit ka.”

I thought about giving him by business card but when you’re surrounded by secret service agents, any sudden movements like pulling anything out of your pocket is probably not a good idea.

Besides, no matter how badly I wanted to be the First Lady, I am a Filipina first. Meaning, I would rather die than ask a man out for a date.

But for the grace of God, my eyes weren't closed in this one shot of a photo with PNoy.

But for the grace of God, my eyes weren't closed in this one shot of a photo with PNoy.

First published in The Australian Filipina:

China lowers interest rates

Between watching ‘Melancholia’ and ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’, there’s nothing left to do on a Friday night but to contemplate where the markets are heading.

Okay, that’s the worst intro ever and the reason I am not out on a Friday night is that the weather sux. If the weather sux and the market sux, what’s there left to do.

Thank goodness the internet is full off movies, music and entertainment reading to choose from. ABC Radio, even only half an hour of it, also makes you feel like you’re on top of current affairs. Even if the ridiculous news cycle means I’ll never know enough and news stations just won’t be able to give a news story enough airplay when needed. After all, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West gives new copy practically every second.

Asylum seeker issues. Syria. Libya. By the way, Philippine credit has just been upgraded to near investment grade.

It’s winter. I’m baking way too many cookies just to keep the kitchen warm. Everyone’s blaming carbon tax for everything being too pricy. The cheapest thing I discovered today is a $1.95 salt and pepper shaker from Victoria’s Basement.

I’m drinking Coke Zero off a wine glass because a bottle of red I’ve ignored for four years is now worth 4 times more than what I paid for four years ago. Must save it now for a special occasion than a Friday night.

The world of social media keeps ticking. Discovered a new twitter celebrity @childishgambino aka @donaldglover aka

Everyone’s a brand now. And my coffee’s getting cold.

Oh yes, the point of this note is how powers-that-be have kept trying to fend off financial apocalypse with two cuts and a top up.  Like I said, it’s Friday night. Go read it if you want to. No matter what the central banks do. They still won’t be able to guarantee me good coffee tomorrow.