MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has approved in principle the proposal of newly-appointed Department of Tourism (DOT) secretary Wanda Teo to have the Philippines host the next Miss Universe pageant.
Teo, in a statement released Thursday, said that the President has agreed with her plans to bring back the global event to the country, which she said will greatly benefit the local tourism industry.
The Philippines last hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1994.
Teo earlier told ABS-CBN News that if the international beauty contest would be held in the country, she wants to have it moved to May instead of January. She cited other big events scheduled at the start of the year such as the Chinese New Year celebration and the Sinulog festival.
"Medyo gipit kaya probably we'll ask them to move it," Teo said.
Reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach is set to return to Manila on Saturday to further campaign the staging of the pageant in the Philippines.
The DOT has confirmed that Teo will meet with Wurtzbach prior to her courtesy call with the President on Monday.
Teo said that she will begin talking with possible sponsors once it is confirmed that the Philippines is the next host country. The DOT chief said that the government will need to raise a budget of $12 million (around P560 million) for the event.
"We are ready to seize the moment," Teo said.
According to Teo, segments of the month-long beauty pageant will be held in Palawan, Boracay and Cebu in an effort to showcase to the world not just Manila, but other tourist spots as well.
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.
"It will be an honor for Pia to come back to the Philippines and crown her successor here," Teo said.