Former Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson of Ilocos Sur defended last Wednesday night the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) from critics who claimed that it was unethical for some candidates of the pageant to go swimming with endangered whale sharks (butanding) in Oslob, Cebu City recently.
“Wala naman yun. Maganda nga yun dahil naipakita natin sa buong mundo yung local area natin. Dapat nga we should support it as far as tourism is concerned,” said Singson, chairman of LCS Group, a local private partner of the MUO for next year’s pageant, during an ambush interview at a hotel in Makati City.
(It’s nothing! The good thing about it is that we are able to show the world our local area. We should support it as far as tourism is concerned).
Singson was attending the birthday celebration of Japanese trader Kazuyoshi Irizuki when interviewed. Other guests at the event were newly appointed head of the Tourism Promotions Board Cesar Montano; Rizza Lao Laping, Miss Global Philippines chairlperson; and Pauline Sofia Laping, Chief Executive Officer and national director of Miss Global Philippines.
The politician-businessman also said that the 12 girls who are in the country to promote the Miss Universe 2016 pageant did not even touch the whale sharks when they went swimming. “The girls never touched the whales.”
Environmentalists claimed that they put the endangered species at an increasing rate of extinction when the candidates watched and swam with them.
The Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines also called on the public to sign an online petition against the activity.
Singson also believes that the decision to cancel the Miss Universe fashion show in Davao City is not yet final.
“That program is supposed to be handled by a group of professionals and our group has the final approval about the show. But somewhere along the way, there was confusion. Hindi pa nga umaabot sa amin yung final program about the Davao City fashion show nag-aaway away na agad sila,” he said.
On Wednesday, Tourism Undersecretary Kat De Castro said that the Miss Universe fashion show in Davao City was cancelled to avoid controversies.
Designers from Davao have expressed disappointment in the Miss Universe organizing committee because they will not dress the candidates in the cultural fashion show on January 19, 2017.
Instead, veteran fashion designer Renee Salud from Batangas City will design the outfits of some 90 candidates of the Miss Universe contest.
On Dec. 13, the ABS-CBN news program “TV Patrol” flashed on screen a statement from the Davao Fashion and Design Council (DFDC) which partly read: “[The DFDC] expresses its utter disappointment on the explicit disregard of local Davao-based and Mindanaoan designers, in general, at the January 19th event of Miss Universe in SMX Convention Center in Davao City. No consultation among local designers was done by the Miss Universe committee, represented by Renee Salud…”
Fashion designer Alfonso “Boy” Guinoo said that some 50 Davao designers were ready to dress the ladies and they felt that they had been snubbed.
“We’re going to fight for this. The chance should be given to us to showcase what Mindanao really is,” said Aztec Barba, president of DFDC.
The DFDC said that they will take their concern to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Singson also confirmed reports that they are still accepting sponsors for the Miss Universe 2016 pageant in Manila.
“Para makabawi ako,” he laughed. “Actually, hindi ko alam kung makakabawi ako rito. But this is for the Philippines.”
Singson foot bill for the Miss Universe show, adding that the government will not spend a single centavo for the staging of the pageant.
The candidates will start to arrive in the country on January 12. The three-hour grand coronation will be held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on January 30. It will be broadcast live in 190 countries and territories.