MANILA – This 2019, Gloria Diaz marks her 50th year as a Miss Universe titleholder.
“It’s not only a coincidence, it’s scary!” the Miss Universe 1969 winner told reporters last Tuesday, noting that her stint as beauty queen and mentor Gloria Reyes in the Netflix show “Insatiable” happened in the same year.
“Where did those 50 years go? It was so fast,” she added.
Even after half a century, Diaz remains relevant among Filipino pageant fans. What she did, after all, is no small feat as she is the Philippines’ first of only four Miss Universe winners.
The beauty queen-turned-actress revealed, however, that she did not take her pageant journey seriously. Diaz was only 18 years old when she competed internationally.
“I wasn’t competitive – in fact, I was very complacent, feeling I deserve [to win],” she recalled, laughing. “[I felt like] I don’t have to compete, bahala kayo. Take it or leave it. Feeling lang. Then all of a sudden, I won.”
“My father’s very down-to-earth and he said before I left, ‘No matter what happens, when you lose, we go to Europe, okay?’ So in my mind, ‘Why will I lose naman?’” she went on.
“In the first place, even in Binibini (Binibining Pilipinas, the national pageant), I didn’t really know it was that kind of competition. I was there for the picnic. It’s the first time I’m able to sleep outside my own room. We all slept out.”
While she admitted to not being a pageant aficionado (“I have very bad memory for faces pa,” she said), Diaz said she has observed how the landscape has changed for beauty queens today.
“[It has changed] very much. They do all kinds of very adult stuff now. Like some of the pageants are in the casinos, they do deodorants, all kinds of stuff now. Of course, there’s plastic surgery and everything. Before, there was no such thing. Parang pa-wholesome effect lang na education, health, and stuff. ‘Yun ang focus,” she said.
“During our time, we wore designer clothes but it was not talked about that much. Now it’s become an issue,” she added.
Diaz went on to share that “vital statistics” – or bust, waist, and hip measurements – were a huge deal during her time. So much so that they have to gather in a room and have their chest measured without a bra.
“Before there was a parade or rally about being measured. Because during my time, we go into a room, a really small room where there are only 20 of you. Only in your underwear, no bra, and you’re measured,” she said. “So on the pageant itself, there’s the 34-24-34, ganyan.
“Now, 'di na sinasabi ‘yun. They only talk about height and weight. After that year [of the rally], that’s what happened… During my time they do body measurement, academic achievement, stuff like that. Now diverted na to the bikini, bahala ka na.”
Another major difference, according to Diaz, is that beauty queens today are generally a lot older.
“I used to say that when you enter a contest, you must keep it in your mind that this is not the beginning or the end. This is just a stepping stone, something different. If you win, good. If you lose, okay. You make friends, you enjoy. But it’s more difficult for me to say that now because now, they are already 26 or 27, it’s a life-changing career,” she said.
“Things have changed,” she continued. “I think it’s also a step to a better life for the family. Beauty queens, parang they earn a lot, supposedly. And they can do other stuff. I think even in getting a job, if you’re a beauty queen, you have an edge.”