Press Briefing of PCO Assistant Secretary Ana Maria Paz Banaag with Department of Tourism Usec. Katherine Chloe de Castro, Asec. Ricky Alegre, Department of Interior Local Government Usec. Emily Padilla and MMDA Traffic Engineering Center Chief Emilio Llavor
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacanang
09 December 2016

ASEC. BANAAG: Good afternoon, Rocky at sa ating mga bisita at sa Malacañang Press Corps.

USEC. DE CASTRO: Yeah. Hello everybody. Should I start my speech now? Or… okay. As you have surely monitored on Twitter and Facebook and other social media platforms, at least two of the candidates for Miss Universe have set foot on Manila. They are Ms. USA Deshauna Barber and Ms. New Zealand Tania Pauline Dawson.

In behalf of the Department of Tourism and of course, our private partners and sponsors led by the Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson group, welcome to Ms. USA and Ms. New Zealand, and of course, welcome home to the reigning Miss Universe, our very own, Pia Alonzo-Wurtzbach.

At least 10 more of the most beautiful women in the world are scheduled to arrive today and tomorrow. Tomorrow, December 10, we will have a kick-off party at the Conrad Hotel.

This kick-off party is open to the public. So you are all invited. The girls will be here for a week and as we have announced, we will soon be travelling to the different islands of the country, so these girls can get a glimpse of how awesome our country is.

We will, for this week, we’ll be bringing them to Siargao, where they will be trying surfing. Also to Cebu, Vigan, and Manila.

Just today, I received the report on our visitor arrivals for the month of September and we have more than 400,000 recorded arrivals to be exact.

This has been the pattern for quite some time. Every month, we get some 500 visitors more or less.
We’ve been asked by our critics several times, what do we expect to gain in staging the pageant here? Well for one, one thing is certain, there will be an increase in tourist arrivals. 

At least 90 Miss Universe candidates will be arriving in January. Of course, their airfare will be shouldered by the sponsors. But their relatives, their friends, their assistants, they will have to pay for their rooms, they will have to eat, they will surely shop.

And once they experience for themselves how warm our people are and how safe it is here, I am quite sure, they will contemplate about extending their stay.

Without us spending for anything at the Department of Tourism, the pageant will attract the international press. Hundreds of them will flock. Not even just hundreds, thousands of them will flock to the Philippines.

I’m sure your station managers and editors have asked you to inquire about the accreditation process and it’s Asec. Marie Banaag will be the one discussing about that later on.

As mentioned, the girls will do photo shoots in different locations, and the footages will be used to come up with AVPs to be aired during the pageant. 

This is just one of the ways for us to showcase to the world the hidden treasures of our country. A lot of the unknown destinations will be featured in the final show of the Miss Universe.

Rest assured that all the islands will be well represented, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Millions will be watching and after the pageant, we are sure that the world, or the universe rather, will be thinking of one thing – that is the best time to visit the Philippines is now.

So keep your seatbelts on, the Miss Universe spectacle begins on January 13 until January 30.

Thank you. 

USEC. PADILLA: Good afternoon everyone. Well I am excited. This is the most exciting assignment given to me by Secretary Sueno. 

So in behalf of Secretary Sueno, I would like to convey this message, the assurance to all that the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police in partnership with other government agencies are prepared as far as security matters are concerned. 

As this will be the third time that the Philippines will host the Miss Universe, considered as the most popular beauty contest in the world.

We have managed to show the world already that we are capable of providing security to major events, like the Papal visit and the APEC, and now the ASEAN which will coincide with this Miss Universe.

Time is of the essence, as it is now less than two months away for the big day, January 30. And yesterday, the PNP, in particular the Committee on Security, Peace and order, and Emergency Preparedness and Response (CSPEPR) had a command conference on the Miss Universe.

We have the security plans, not just for Metro Manila, but all the provinces that contestants will be going to. As early as August of this year, the DILG-PNP had already met twice with the DOT and the Miss Universe representative on security matters and we have presented to them the security plans and conducted ocular inspections in the big day’s venue and we will do the ocular inspection in other areas, as stated by our Usec. Kat. 

The government will mobilize its law enforcement forces to ensure that the Miss Universe staff, beauty contestants, and other foreign visitors will be safe while they are in our country. 

Strict and elaborate security measures will be in place to prevent the alleged lawless elements from doing something malevolent. 

Considering the pageant’s global attraction, the DILG-PNP will prevent any untoward incident to happen before, during, or close to and after the pageant.
We cannot afford any lapses in security, our enforcement agencies will make sure that there will be a safe and successful holding of the Miss Universe.

We need it not just to further boost our tourism industry as we expect a big number of foreign tourists, including international media to come to town, but more than that ‘no, it is about our beautiful country and our people for tourism, is actually about people, the Filipino people.

We will work hard to guarantee the safety of our candidates, the guests, local and international, the tourists, and yes our people who are eagerly awaiting the Miss Universe.

The government’s physical, human, and material resources will be mobilized and used to the hilt to provide security and protective measures.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas. Welcome Miss Universe.

ASEC. ALEGRE: Maybe just to mention the arrivals this afternoon. We’re expecting from Korea, China, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysian, Myanmar and Vietnam. All the way from 2 o’clock to about 8 o’clock p.m. tonight mostly at the Terminal 2 and the Department of Tourism will have officials there together with the organizing committee to welcome them. So that they are met properly at the NAIA together with the security officers.

ENGR. LLAVOR: In behalf of MMDA, good afternoon. Similar to APEC and Papal visit, we hope that we can handle the traffic very well. That’s all.


Celerina Monte (Manila Shimbun): Good morning. I just want to ask Usec. Padilla. You have mentioned that there will be strict and elaborate security measures that will be implemented. What does it mean? Will there be any streets to be closed or what? Especially in Metro Manila.

USEC. PADILLA: Yeah. We have our meeting yesterday and may I requests our head, Police Senior Superintendent [Ronaldo Ilagan] and Superintendent [Felipe Maragon] to answer the question.

SUPT. MARAGON: As of now po, wala pa po tayong plano na may mga streets na iko-close dahil ayaw po ng ating Presidente na madi-disrupt ‘yung daily routine ‘nong ating mga kababayan.

USEC. DE CASTRO: Can I just add something to that? ‘Cause when we presented it to President Duterte that’s the first thing he said. Walang isasaradong kalsada, walang itatago na tao. Ipakita natin ang ganda ng Pilipinas that despite of poverty, there is beauty in this country.

So that is basically his order for us. That is why we’ve decided that all of the preliminaries will just be down south in the Mall of Asia compound para hindi naman kami maka-apekto.

Because originally we wanted it to be at the Philippine Arena but that would entail for the entourage to pass through EDSA and then NLEX and that is gonna be a lot of problems for us.

So when we told him that we’re gonna have it just confined in the Mall of Asia area, pumayag siya to have the Miss Universe done here. Thank you. 

Ms. Monte: To Usec. De Castro. You have mentioned that there are lots of people to come here, you are expecting by next year. Do you have any estimate as to how many and how much are you expecting to gain from these? Especially in terms of revenue for tourism.

USEC. DE CASTRO: Okay. When Miss Universe presented to us that when they do their shows in other countries, at least one candidate brings in 50 — 50 people with her. So if you do the math, if you’re like mahina ako sa math eh, 97 candidates more or less times 50, so that’s speaking a lot.

While the girls will be sponsored, ‘yung mga kasama nila kailangan mag-ano ng hotel and so far, we’ve been coming out with a list of accredited DOT hotels for them to stay, most of the hotels that we would advise them to stay would be somewhere along Mall of Asia and Roxas Blvd.

In terms of revenue, we have not yet come up with a figure of that but kasi the Miss Universe is not just happening here in Metro Manila. We will also be bringing them to Cebu, we have the swimsuit presentation which is sponsored by Jpark so doon din, magkakaroon din ng, you know, and there are a lot of pageant fanatics in this country. They really follow these girls everywhere they go. 

So not only will it be a good boost to foreign arrivals but it also will boost our domestic tourism. Thank you.

ASEC. BANAAG: For PCOO, accreditation will be handled by our International Press Center and Miss Universe Organization through online application. 

IPC will send out advisories and this will go live by next week. The media tent will be set up at SMX parking lot days before the finals, and a viewing room will also be provided.

Kindly wait for official press statement for the link on the Ms. Universe New York website. Thank you.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Good afternoon gentlemen and ma’ams. Kay Asec. Castro. So far, aside from your critics and of course the security, what could be the biggest challenge that you are facing or trying to iron out as we go nearing the pageant?

USEC. DE CASTRO: Well, I think it’s Asec. Alegre who can answer that question.

ASEC. ALEGRE: I think it’s the, the excited is such that, of course the crowd control. I think the difference we have from 22 years ago is social media. Can you imagine everybody wanting to have a selfie with a Miss Universe candidate? Having a picture? So I believe that’s where the challenge is, you cannot stop the excitement when we don’t intend to stop that excitement. 

We need to be able to have some rules before they can approach the candidates. I think the Philippines and we are all ready to welcome the Miss Universe candidates with open arms and we’re very positive about this development. We just have to find ways to control the selfies and the group shots and the group selfies because that’s gonna be all over the place and that’s going be the big difference because in this day and age, when that goes viral, can you imagine the promotion for the Philippines?

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you. And kay Undersecretary Padilla. Ma’am, I understand, you’ve mentioned that you have successfully, I mean protected the APEC Summit and even the Papal visit. But I understand this is a very different set up of subjects, considering they are beauty queens, etc. How do we define or qualify our security protocols, security procedures with this unique situation other than, compared to Papal visit?

USEC. PADILLA: Well, in our meeting with the PNP ‘no, actually we have already conducted, twice already I mentioned ‘no, in 1974 and in 1994 ‘no when the Miss Universe was conducted here, was held here and the PNP is giving us the assurance that everything is in place now, as far as security concerns are — as far as security matters are concerned ‘no.

We are not, at this point ‘no, authorized to divulge the details of our security plans.

Mr. Tinaza: Ma’am, lastly. Well, not to create any panic or alarm but is there any specific threat still that we are receiving targeted to the Miss Universe?

USEC. PADILLA: No, we have none so far. We have none.

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you.

Chona Yu (Radyo Inquirer): Ma’am, kay Usec. De Castro. Ma’am, si President po ba may participation sa Miss Universe or may ceremonial — mga ganun? Manunuod po ba siya?

 USEC. DE CASTRO: Yeah, aside from the courtesy call that we have scheduled with him, it’s gonna be on January 23 with all the girls. I think Miss Universe Organization is very much welcome to have him in the show. Apparently, it’s a rule for Miss Universe Organization not to have a judge from the host country but I think if it’s the President, that’s gonna be another, you know, I think they will make an exception to the rule.

And we’ve also reserved seats for Miss — for the President for the Miss Universe finals show. So far, ang pinaka-sigurado palang si Presidente is ‘yung courtesy call niya on January 23 with the girls, that’s it pa lang.

 Ms. Yu: Ma’am, last time kasi na nagpa-presscon dito si Secretary Wanda, parang hindi okay ang President kay Mr. Steve Harvey na host. Na-settle na po ba ‘yung issue na ‘to?

USEC. DE CASTRO: Okay, paano ko isasagot ‘to? I think he was just kidding kasi ‘yung pagkasabi niya na, ‘What? Steve Harvey is the one hosting it? He’s a disaster.’ Pero tumawa siya after. So sabi kong ganon, ‘Sir, kailangan po talaga si Steve Harvey.’

Ang sabi niya, ‘No, I’m very much welcome to have him here in the Philippines’ and kami sa, kami ni Secretary Martin Andanar, meron kaming gagawing pakulo between the President and Steve Harvey. So medyo abangan niyo po ‘yan. And Miss Universe Organization was very much open to that — to that, whatever it is that we are planning to do with the President and Steve Harvey. 

Isabella Montano (CNN Philippines): Good afternoon, Usec. Kat. I just wanted to ask you. What will Pia Wurtzbach’s role be during the pre-pageant activities? Is she gonna mentor the girls? Is she gonna go with them on the tourism trips? 

USEC. DE CASTRO: Well, with Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, since she’s from the Philippines and she’s the reigning Miss Universe, she will definitely be going around the country with the girls. She will some sort of act as a tour guide for the girls. 

So far, the plans would be to bring them on January, would be to bring them to Baguio City, Cebu, Palawan, Davao and a whole a lot of other places. 

So definitely, Pia will be very much active. Baka nga mas pagod pa si Pia as compared to the girls because she has to be everywhere.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Ma’am just to clarify, what is the likelihood of the President judging the pageant, a portion of the pageant? Have you actually asked him to do this?

USEC. DE CASTRO: Well, I think his, his men are aware that we would like him to be part of you know, to judge it or just even to watch it. But he has not yet given us a concrete answer altogether. 

But we have reserved, you know, a VIP section just for the President and to everybody else in Malacañang. So abangan na lang po natin.

Hopefully, by the first week of January Asec. Alegre and I will have an answer from the President himself. 

But we’re trying to work out for a courtesy call on Monday with the President, December 12. And maybe I could ask him personally by that time. I don’t have an answer for you.

Ms. Ranada: ‘Cause ma’am, when he was Davao City Mayor kasi he banned ‘yung swimsuit part of the pageant. Did he ever give any comment on that, you know, that part of the pageant?

USEC. DE CASTRO: Okay, yes. There is always that swimsuit presentation or swimsuit competition in the Miss Universe. And then we told him that, you know, we’re planning to include Davao as one of the places for Miss Universe.

‘Yun ang una niyang sinabi, bawal ang swimsuit sa Davao. And then at first we’re planning to have it na lang in Samal, in Pearl Farm, but then eventually we decided na baka magkaroon pa ng konting problema, hanggang it was finally decided, ‘O sa Cebu na lang natin gawin ‘yung swimsuit competition.’ 

And then we told the President about it. Sabi niya, Oo, sa Cebu na lang dahil sa Davao I will not relax my rules on not having, you know, the swimsuit competition in his province.  

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes, Rocky and the Malacañang Press Corps. We’ll be having the second batch, the ladies, our visitors from, representatives from Miss Universe and Miss–

USEC. DE CASTRO: We actually brought them here for you guys.

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes. So we will have them. Aalis na kaming mga matatanda para dito naman sila. 

— END –


USEC. DE CASTRO: Yes, good afternoon. Today, we have a treat for you. 

I would like you, I would like to introduce you the Miss Universe candidates. Let’s start on the far right, we have Miss USA Deshauna Barber. 

Right beside her, who also looks like a beauty queen, that’s Richelle Singson-Michael, she is the chairman of the host committee for the public sector of… Sorry, private sector of Miss Universe and of course, the man who made it happened, Governor Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson.

And then this lady right beside me is Tania Pauline Dawson, Ms. New Zealand. And a trivia, she’s half-Kiwi and half-Filipina. So, there you go.

USEC. DE CASTRO: Ms. Singson, you might want to say something?

Okay, you guys can ask questions na raw, if you want.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, good afternoon, ladies and sir. Perhaps to the two lovely ladies. So far, in the few hours that you have stayed in the Philippines, in Manila, what have you experienced so far and what are you, what you are looking forward in staying in the Philippines? 

DAWSON: Well, the first thing that we noticed when we hopped off the plane was the warm welcome that the Filipino people have for us. It’s amazing to hop off the plane and have so many people at the airport ready to see us and their love was really what made this trip amazing. 

And we’re really looking forward to the [unclear], where we’re going to Palawan, we’re going to Cebu.

We are gonna to swim with whale sharks. I’m really excited so I’m really looking forward to all the experiences that we’re gonna have while we’re here.  

BARBER: I think Tania covered a lot of what I was going to say. No, but we really were welcomed very, very, very openly. It was around 5 o’clock in the morning when I got here and 2 o’clock in the morning when she got here, so, it’s great to see that you guys are early birds, that you accepted us with open arms. So, we’re just incredibly excited to be here and we look forward to seeing more around the country. 

Mr. Tinaza: Specific question to Ms. Tania. Have you traced so far, where in the Philippines your roots are? And, sorry, but and also, what are the traits of a Filipino or Filipina, your mother have taught you so far? 

DAWSON:So my roots in the Philippines, my mother was born in Baguio City. So she lived in Baguio City through her education and then her father also lives in Pangasinan, Santa Maria, so she’s been in between those two places through her childhood and through teenage-hood when she was in Philippines. 

And so there is where my family are residing at the moment. So, I have a lot of family in Baguio at the moment, my family, the [Palabes?], so if anyone knows the [Palabe?] chances are they are related to me. So, that’s my roots here. 

This is not my first time being here either. So this is my third time being in the Philippines. So I have gone back to those roots and meet those people and have a good time with them. 

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you, Kabayan. Kay Governor Chavit. Apo, naimbag nga, naimbag nga aldaw. So far can we say na that we are a hundred percent ready to the Miss Universe? 

CHAVIT SINGSON: Yes. Matagal na naming pinaghandaan. Long time before election pa, matagal pa election, nagne-negotiate na kami noon. So… And we hired lahat, puro professionals to handle it. 

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you, sir. 

Ms. Montano: So question for the girls. I was wondering, have you met Pia Wurtzbach and has she given you any word of advice or anything like that? Are you looking forward to meeting her perhaps? 

BARBERS:So Miss Universe Pia is actually my roommate and she has been my roommate for six months now. 

And I’m very sad that she is giving up her crown in January. I’m gonna miss knocking on her door every morning to bother her. 

But no, she’s an amazing person. I am so incredibly excited to know her personally and I think she’s just been a wonderful Miss Universe up to this point and she really represents what Miss Universe organization stands for — being confidently beautiful, being humble and she is the reason why Miss Universe pageant will be here in January. So, she’s a wonderful person. 

DAWSON: I haven’t yet met her but I’m so excited to be meeting her, and hopefully in this experience while we’re here in the next few days, I’ll get the chance to meet her. 

But from what I’ve heard, she’s an amazing person, from what I’ve seen, she’s an amazing person and she really has embodied what it means to be a Miss Universe.