Miss Universe courts Philippines as 2018 host

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 07 2018 08:17 AM | Updated as of May 07 2018 09:01 AM

Pia Wurtzbach places the Miss Universe crown on Miss France Iris Mittenaere after the latter was declared winner in the Miss Universe beauty pageant on Jan. 30, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters/FILE PHOTO

MANILA -- The Miss Universe Organization is keeping its options open regarding the venue of this year's pageant, its president said Sunday, as the presence of 3 titleholders in the country fueled speculation that the Philippines would play host for the fourth time.

The organization places great value on the Philippines as the possible venue for the beauty tilt's 67th edition, but details have not been ironed out, MUO president Paula Shugart said.

Reigning Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters and her 2 predecessors, France's Iris Mittenaere and the Philippines' Pia Wurtzbach are scheduled to attend a fashion show on Tuesday.

Shugart, together with Nel-Peters and Mittenaere, were at a dinner hosted by former Ilocos Sur Gov Luis "Chavit" Singson on Sunday. Singson helped bankroll the 65th edition of the pageant in Manila in January 2017, which was won by Mittenaere.

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"The ball is in his hands," said Shugart, who brought Nel-Peters and several other 2017 contestants to the Philippines in December last year.

Nel-Peters and Mittenaere said they were in favor of the holding the pageant in the Philippines, calling the country their second home. But the venue will be up to the MUO, they said.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo was quoted in earlier reports as saying that she was negotiating for the Philippine' hosting of the pageant to coincide with the reopening of Boracay.

Singson said his business partners in China, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand were also interested to host the pageant.

Pageant-crazy Philippines hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1974, 1994 and 2017 and has produced two other titleholders aside from German-Filipina Wurtzbach, Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margarita Moran in 1974.

Catriona Gray, a former Miss World top 5 finisher, will represent the Philippines in the 67th Miss Universe.