DJ scores beauty queen over 'offensive' statement
MANILA -- Radio personality Mo Twister didn't mince words in criticizing the Philippines' representative to Miss Universe, Ariella Arida, over her supposedly "offensive" statement about Latinas in beauty pageants.
The controversial disc jockey, whose real name is Mohan Gumatay, took to social media on Tuesday to comment on Arida's recent interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel's (ANC) "Headstart."
In the interview, which aired live on Monday, Arida was asked by host Karen Davila to address comments about her communication skills in English.
"'Is this our Miss Universe?'" Davila quoted a Twitter user as saying. "'I think she's having a hard time speaking in English.' Can you respond to that?"
Arida, a chemistry graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, began by saying, "I'm aware of it, actually."
"You know, I've [gotten] a lot of trainings, especially on my communication skills. And I'm doing my best to really express myself, to convey a message to the people," she said.
"Like what I've told my trainers, 'Don't worry, I will do my best in the competition.' Because, you know, when you get there, it's [about] how you express yourself," said Arida, who departed for Russia shortly after the interview.
The 62nd edition of Miss Universe, which will gather over 80 candidates, will be held on November 9 at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow.
Arida, in her live interview on Monday, went on to bring up Latinas' communication skills as pageant hopefuls, adding Filipinos tend to focus on contestants' use of English.
"Especially, you know, Latinas cannot even speak a sentence, right? I mean, a complete sentence in English... You know, I think, it's the Filipinos who are very critical about this," she said.
Noting she has been urged repeatedly to tap a translator should she advance to the Question & Answer portion of Miss Universe, Arida said, "Like what I've [said], you know, in the competition, it's going to be different. I know I can deliver."
In a post on image-sharing service Instagram, Gumatay on Tuesday showed a short clip from Arida's "Headstart" interview.
The only parts of Arida's interview heard in the clip are: "...to really express myself, to convey a message to the people... Especially, you know, Latinas cannot even speak a sentence, right? I mean, a complete sentence in English."
Gumatay, in the post's caption, brought up several instances when Filipinos got "sensitive" over negative comments about the Philippines or its people.
"I don't intend to bash on our Ms Philippines here but how the [expletive] is this not considered offensive toward Latinas?" he said.
"I mean, we ALWAYS get so sensitive when someone says anything about us Filipinos (see Dan Brown, Alec Baldwin, and every other time we screamed murder) yet our girl representing our country, in a legit interview regarding the competition, says Latinas can't put a sentence together in English.
"That would royally piss me off if I were of Latin descent. I'm pretty sure we would lose our minds if we heard an interview of a contestant saying 'Filipinos can't string a sentence together' and our Senator/Congressman would persona non grata that bitch immediately," he said.
The DJ, who is now based in New York, added he is also "quite certain that a few of the Latina contestants can cook up a few intelligible lines in English that would leave Ariella here dizzy in her heels."
"Best of luck to her in the competition. Now back to my NBA Fantasy Team," he said.
Gumatay then took to Twitter to bring up his concern that Arida's supposedly "offensive" comment might make it to news outfits with Latin Americans as the target audience.
"Who cares about winning the crown, I'd be more concerned that a Latin media outlet picking it up & pissing off an entire population [and] she gets booed on stage during the pageant. I wouldn't be so harsh if it were a sitcom but it was a news interview about the pageant," he said.
Mentor defends Arida
On Tuesday night, one of Arida's pageant trainers, Jonas Gaffud, answered Gumatay's statements. Gaffud, who heads local modeling agency Mercator, maintained that Arida is "very humble."
"I have nothing against Mo Twister. But to clarify, Ara meant lang she's ok with her communication skills because a lot of other girls don't speak good English in Miss Universe. It's about speaking English in pageants, not to downgrade anyone who doesn't speak well," Gaffud said.
"Our Miss Philippines, Ara Arida is very humble. So i hope people won't judge her on how some people interpret it. Peace to all," he said.
In another tweet, Gaffud stressed he respects Gumatay. "Respect is something lacking in our society that makes the world more complicated to live in," he said.
Addressing no one in particular, Gaffud urged against "[using] social media to destroy people. Instead, use it as a tool for better understanding."
Responding to this last tweet, Gumatay, said, "Let's not use news programs to destroy entire groups of people. I agree."
Gaffud proceeded to update his followers on Arida's Miss Universe bid, saying the 24-year-old Laguna native arrived in Moscow on Tuesday night.
Arida is hoping to surpass the successes of her last three predecessors in Miss Universe -- the Gaffud-trained Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup and Janine Tugonon -- who all finished in the international pageant's top five.