Tag Archives: Chavit Singson

Column: Obscene Miss Universe

Published on January 10, 2017.

I am one of many Filipinos who look up to Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. She has done her beauty-contest-besotted country proud, not simply because she won the biggest prize of them all, but because of how she has conducted herself during her year-long term—her reign, in pageant-speak—as Miss Universe. Poised, smart, well-spoken and, to use her own meme-spawning phrase, confidently beautiful, she understood the most important albeit least known part of the beauty queen’s job description: diplomacy. She put that to good use when she championed the idea of the Philippines hosting the Miss Universe 2016 pageant.

The politician-businessman Chavit Singson is mainly responsible for pooling the resources that allowed the country to host this year’s competition, but Wurtzbach played a key role. Something she said at the pageant’s “kick-off” party last December is worth repeating: “It started with an idea and I asked Paula (Shugart, the president of the Miss Universe Organization) if it’s okay for me to, during my interviews, during my homecoming, if it’s okay that I mention that we would like to host the next Miss Universe competition here because, who knows, it might actually happen!”

I am sure there are others like me who supported the idea, not only as an initiative to shine the light on the Philippines, but as an opportunity to temporarily stop the killings in President Duterte’s war on drugs. Our reasoning was: Surely the administration would signal to the police, and to the vigilantes who read the same cues, to observe a ceasefire in the ongoing war while international attention is focused on the country. After all, when the competition is in full swing, women from around 90 countries will be competing for Wurtzbach’s crown in different locations in the Philippines. Who would want glamorous images of beautiful women in tourist spots in the news every day, side by side gritty pictures of dead suspects on the streets? Continue reading

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Column: Pacquiao vs Marx, or Funding a Senate run

Published on February 11, 2014.

It should have come as no surprise that, as he was scrambling up the ladder of worldwide fame with his thrilling boxing style, Manny Pacquiao also made up his mind to run for political office. He famously failed on his first try, when tiny Darlene Antonino-Custodio bested him in the congressional race to represent General Santos City, in 2007. But he is now on his second term as lawmaker, representing the province of Sarangani.

No surprise, because Pacquiao has a fighter’s killer instinct, and in creating his own political base (his wife is now also vice governor of the province) he was reaching for the jugular. In his view (I am hazarding a guess), the real source of staying power in Philippine society is not wealth, but political clout. Continue reading

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