MANILA – With everyone’s attention now focused on the Philippines after the much talked about victory of Pia Wurtzbach last December, Miss Universe president Paula Shugart believes this is the right time to hold the pageant in the country.
In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News’ Dyan Castillejo on Sunday, Shugart admitted that she has long wanted to hold the competition in the Philippines.
“For years, I’ve talked about someday having the pageant here. I do know with Pia (Wurtzbach) right now, the entire worldwide focus is on the Philippines. I think it’s a great opportunity. I would love to be able to make it work. We’ll see,” she said.
“We have new owners that came in in October. All we did is we focused on let’s get the show on and we’ll talk and now they are seeing things. When I go back, we’ll figure all that out. I keep my fingers crossed. This might be the right year,” she added.
For now, Shugart said she is thrilled to be back in the Philippines again and that a representative of the country was able to win the crown during her time as president.
The Philippines first hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1974. The competition was held in the country again in 1994.
Meanwhile, Shugart praised Wurtzbach at her homecoming press conference on Sunday, describing the Filipina beauty queen as graceful and "philosophical."
“In my last month, I have met a young woman who has so much grace and such an old soul and so philosophical. She has a way of seeing things. Last week, she was saying. ‘Always have your goal but be flexible on how you get to your goal.’ That made me so impressed because you always say things like that. I know that at the end of your year, I will be a better person through listening to you. I mean that,” she told Wurtzbach.
Shugart added that she sees a bright future ahead for Wurtzbach, adding that the Filipina will do well in raising awareness about her advocacies.
“There are some things that will be coming out in the next few days. She’ll be doing a lot of travelling in the United States as well as well as worldwide travels. But obviously, she’ll be an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness but she really wants to make sure she has the opportunity to talk to young women and make sure that they make educated choices,” she told Castillejo.
Asked if she will also help Wurtzbach bag her dream role as a Bond girl, Shugart said: “The one thing I know about Pia is when she sets her mind into something, I have no doubt that she can get it. I’ve heard her said it before. Hearing it today, I’m going to have to pass that along to our new owners.”
Meanwhile, Shugart also talked about reports that Steve Harvey will still return to host the 2016 Miss Universe competition.
“I think, yes, he really wants to host again. He’d love to come to the Philippines by the way. He really wants the opportunity to come. I think he’s the one person that’s really feeling this more than anybody, what happened. I know he really wants to and I know we would like him back so I’m sure he probably will,” she said.
Shugart likewise hinted that the second question and answer portion among the final three contestants will probably stay in the competition.
“Everybody seemed to like it. We liked it. They are all beautiful women but when you have that moment to really get to know the substance and the heart, I think it’s great. I was actually very happy that our new broadcaster allowed us to do that and actually suggested it. I think it will [stay],” she said.
For the longest time, the Miss Universe only had one Q&A segment in the pageant.