Fresh from my Kamuning thrift shopping comes this memento of Gemma Cruz's Miss International triumph in Long Beach. The first ever global beauty winner from the Philippines, Gemma redefined the Filipina beauty stereotype with her victory; after all, she had distinct Malayan looks (mestizas like Lalaine Bennett and Josephine Estrada were the rage at that time) and was a woman of culture and intellect (she played the nose flute in the local contest and was already working at the National Museum). To top it all, she had a national hero--Dr. Jose Rizal, no less, as a relative!
When she left to compete in the U.S., she was sent off with only a few relatives and 10 friends (Ten-tacles, she called them), but when she came back as Miss International, the whole country embraced her! She was given tributes of all sorts and this musical composition of Alice Doria Gamilla is just one example. "My Wonderful World Is You" was composed for the piano by Gamilla, who would also find fame as the composer of Pilita Corrales's signature hit, "A Million Thanks To You", that was even recorded by famous international artists like Bobbi Martin and translated in 7 languages!
Shamcey Supsup's recent Miss Universe 3rd runner up win also has interesting parallels with Gemma's Miss International experience. Soothsayers predicted that she will be a "thank you, girl", while others talk of the so-called "UP curse" that plagued brainy UP winners of Bb. Pilipinas Universe--all losers in the contest. Like Gemma, Shamcey left with little publicity. Like Gemma, she came back to an adoring nation, was paraded, serenaded and even met Pres. Noynoy. Shamcey seems to have it all for now...but like Gemma, will she have her own special music sheet entitled "My Wonderful Universe Is You?". I wonder.