Miss Philippines 1999, Miriam Quiambao

Miss Philippines 1999, 1st. runner up in Universe 1999 poses with Julio Iglesias Jr.

Miriam Quiambao was chosen Miss Philippines World in 1999, but winner who was going to Miss Universe Janelle Bautista was disqualified because of problems with her passport, then Binibining Pilipinas Organization called to Miriam saying that she was the new Miss Philippines in Miss Universe Pageant, "this cannot be…this cannot be..." said Miriam.

"Quickly my training started in Manila about world issues and current events, a private tutor from Dale Carnegie, teaching me public speaking, and a couple of sessions with Abbygale Arenas on visual poise and make-up. I called up my history professor from UST, and he brushed me up on Philippine history and culture. We [Bb. Pilipinas-International Lalaine Edson and I] also had a session with Anthony Pangilinan on how to get that “winning spirit”.

On April 27, left for Los Angeles with seven pieces of luggage, it was the first time she travelled alone, she changed her flight to Miami where met Colombian designer Alfredo Barraza who made her evening gown what wore in Miss Universe. On April 30, arrived to Caracas, Venezuela where met Osmel Sosa, the president of La Quinta Miss Venezuela, as well as his other colleagues, she recieved trainning in speech, hair and make-up, she was training the whole day, two to three hours per teacher. It was just she and Miss Venezuela, so they became really close. They were together for a week before all the others.

"The first few days you could feel the sense of competition. At the time I was already feeling the pressure after my training in Venezuela. I was following all the tips they gave me, like sticking close to the favorites, like Miss Venezuela and Miss Mexico. I didn’t really feel comfortable using them just to get media mileage, and I think that was one reason I had an “identity crisis”. I didn’t feel like I knew myself at the time. I felt I lost touch with who I was because I was trying to be the person my trainers wanted me to be.

I called home. I spoke to Mr. Bastillo, my professor. I told him, “I don’t feel like I’m representing my country well or that I’m doing well in this pageant…” Then he said, “No, it’s okay, just enjoy. Anyway, win or lose, we’re still proud of you. Just feel good, and exude divine love and energy. I know you. You have different aura when you feel confident - you shine. You don’t need to compete. Just enjoy yourself.” That did it. That relieved me of the pressure. Finally, my parents called, and then I spoke to my boyfriend, and I met up with the Filipinos, so I also felt I had the support. So even if I didn’t feel I was up to par with the other delegates, it was okay. That was when I started to enjoy myself."

On May 21 we had the presentation show. This was where I tripped on my gown. There was a loose thread on the hemline, and my heel got caught in it, so I tripped. I got up because I felt I had to finish my walk. I was shaking and I was in shock, but all I could think about was how funny it was. Backstage, it hit me - the embarrassment and the shock - and I started to cry. Miss Panama and Miss Northern Marianas were telling me, “You were good!” Our choreographer Scott Grossman was saying, “I’ve never seen a recovery that fast!”

The 26th was coronation night. In the morning she did not feel nervous. In the afternoon, when they were getting ready, that’s when felt butterflies in the stomach, Miriam was called to top 10 semifinalist, then top 5 and the top 3, in that moment Miriam thought "I half expected to win. But the other half of me already expected Miss Botswana to win. But I have no regrets about anything. I’d like to think that the experience was not a total waste and that there was a reason for coming back here. I like to believe that now I’m performing a mission to be a living testimony of God’s love."


Picture courtesy Pawee (Philippines)


This anecdote is from the month: MARCH 2005

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