MANILA – Work has begun for the Department of Tourism in preparation for the staging of the Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines in January, but there seems to be one problem Secretary Wanda Teo has yet to resolve.
During a press conference held at the Malacanang Palace on Thursday, Teo revealed that President Rodrigo Duterte is not in favor of Steve Harvey hosting the international beauty competition.
“Actually under contract siya (Harvey) for five years, I believe. Definitely he’s again going to host the Miss Universe. When I told the President about that, medyo negative agad ang sabi niya. ‘Hindi puwede,’ that was what he said. And he said, ‘I’m going to talk to the Miss Universe na dapat hindi siya.’ That’s my problem,” she said.
In an attempt to appease the President, Teo said she will suggest to the Miss Universe organization for Harvey to have a Filipino co-host.
“Siguro that’s what I‘m going to do para hindi talaga magagalit ang Presidente. Siguro maglalagay ako ng ng girl from the Philippines who will co-host. Wala pa [kaming naiisip], probably one from the media,” she said.
Meanwhile, Teo confirmed that the Miss Universe pageant will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena on January 30, 2017 and candidates will start arriving by January 13.
Although the main event will be in Manila, the contestants are going to visit several key cities including Davao, Cebu, Iloilo and Vigan.
“We have transferred the ancillary events in the provinces para medyo ma-lessen ang traffic sa Manila. The main events na lang will be in Manila and it will be at the MOA Arena. The pre-pageants will be in the hotels somewhere in that area also,” she said.
According to Teo, the group of former Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson has already raised half of the $11 million (more than P518 million) budget which the private sector has promised to shoulder for the event.
Teo reiterated: “I am 100% sure that the government is not going to spend any money for the Miss Universe.”
The Philippines last played host to the Miss Universe pageant in 1994, when Sushmita Sen won India's first title.
For the upcoming pageant, the country will be fielding Maxine Medina, a 25-year-old interior designer who has been modelling since 2008.
She will attempt to succeed Pia Wurtzbach, the first Filipina to win the Miss Universe title in over four decades.