Bb. Pilipinas Universe 2009 Pamela Bianca Manalo is ready and excited to compete in the world’s most prestigious beauty pageant – the Miss Universe contest.
With poise, charm and a prayer, Pamela, 22, hopes to become the third Miss Universe from the Philippines.
“I’m on a diet these days,” says Pamela, during a dinner held at the guest house of the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City, recently. She became conscious about her figure when her aunt 1968 Bb. Pilipinas International Nini Ramos Licaros, also semi-finalist in the same contest, was bit critical of her weight when she joined the Binibini contest.
“She was laughing! Sabi n’ya ‘ang taba ko raw sa stage,’” recalls Pamela, who stands 5’10” and measures 36 & 1/2-26-36. She graduated advertising at the Assumption College.
These days, Pamela works double time to prepare for the Miss Universe pageant with her mentor, no less than her elder sister former Bb. Pilipinas-World Katherine Anne Manalo, also Top 10 semi-finalist in the 2002 Miss World pageant.
Pamela recalls that prior to the 2009 Bb. Pilipinas pageant, she and her sister were a team in preparing for the contest. She says that they would practice until early morning on poise, Q&A, and other things concerning beauty pageant.
“My sister stays in Forbes Park and we would practice there until early morning. We would rehearse in front of her friends,” Pamela says.
But the hard work paid off. Apart from winning the major title, Pamela also won several special awards, including Best in Swimsuit and Manila Bulletin Reader’s Choice Award, during the Bb. Pilipinas pageant.
Pamela, former flight attendant, says her Ate is her inspiration in joining the beauty contest. “I owe it to her [Katherine].”
The night Katherine competed in the Bb. Pilipinas pageant at the Araneta Coliseum, the whole family is supportive of her, including parents Rodrigo and Norma Manalo, she says.
“Andun kami lahat sa Araneta and we’re all nervous. Hindi kami mapakali. My father joined the group composed of family friends and church mates who cheered for my sister. The rest of the family naman nasa backstage,’’ Pamela says.
Then it was announced that Katherine will represent the country in the Miss World contest. “We we’re all happy, cheering for her!”
The 2002 Miss World pageant was initially slated to be held in Abuja, Nigeria. But deadly riots forced pageant organizers to transfer the pageant to London, United Kingdom.
Katherine remembers crying at the finals of the Miss World pageant. “It was tears of joy when my name was announced as one of the semi-finalists. I also want to thank those who voted for me through text,” says Katherine, a Mass Communications (cum laude) graduate at the Assumption, who is now married to entrepreneur Jose Pio Hernandez. She also works for a financing firm.
After Katherine competed in the Miss World contest, all eyes were on Pamela.
“I was in high school when my Ate won the Bb. Pilipinas World. When I became a flight attendant, my friends and co-workers would tell me ‘why are you here? You should be joining beauty contests!’” Pamela says.
The future beauty queen ignored them before. And her only exposure to beauty contest back then was the televised pageants.
“My dad and sister Katherine would react to the answers of the contestants during the Q&A portion when they watch the pageants on TV. Nagiging topic namin ‘yung mga sagot nila,’’ Pamela says.
Then she decided to join the 2009 Bb. Pilipinas beauty contest. Her mom Norma initially got mad when she learned about it. “Hindi kasi ako nagpaalam. Sabi ko na lang ‘mom I’m sorry.’ Later, I saw my phone, dalawang missed calls from my sister. She congratulated me. Ayaw n’ya kasi ako sumali before, siguro natatakot s’ya na mag-fail ako. But I proved them wrong.”
Winning in the Bb. Pilipinas made Pamela a better person. “Public figure na ako that’s why I’m careful. I want to set a good example to others. Ayokong magpakita ng hindi maganda sa iba, that’s why I try to be the best.”
One person who is very excited about the Manalo sisters is Stella Marquez de Araneta, the first Miss International, now chairman of the Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc.
“These sisters are making history. They are the only sisters who competed in international pageants and both of them are Bb. Pilipinas. I’m proud of them,” Mrs. Araneta says.
When Pamela flies for the Miss Universe contest, it will be a “one-woman team” for her. This means that Pamela will do the make-up, hair, costume fit, and other things all by her self. “We have a chaperone, I understand, pero when it comes to other matters, kanya- kanya na kaming pag-aayos.” While still in the country, Pamela also attends seminars on beauty and personality development in preparation for the contest.
If she wins the Miss Universe contest on August 23, Pamela will join the ranks of other Miss Universe winners from the Philippines – Gloria Diaz (1969) and Margie Moran (1973). More than that, the Miss Universe title would be the greatest gift she could have on her birthday which falls several days after the contest.
“With prominent cheek bones, height, beauty and charm, we wouldn’t be surprised if she wins the Miss Universe contest. She’s also smart,” observers say. Some 87 contestants will join the 58th edition of the Miss Universe pageant.
The last time the Philippines figured prominently in the same pageant was in 1999 when Miriam Quiambao landed first runner-up in the contest held in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago.
It’s all in the family for the Manalo clan who have already produced three beauty queens. But there’s no stopping them. “Watch out for our younger sister. She’s a future beauty queen,” Katherine smiles.