BELOW THE LINE
By JOSÉ ABETO ZAIDE
Catriona Gray winning the Miss Universe 2018 was the best news last week; she succeeds our Pia Wurtzbach. the 2015 Miss Universe.
Catriona Gray was, in form and in substance. a far and away the clear winner — not only in looks and her sashaying walk (slo-mo, they said), but in her panache and answering with aplomb the off the cuff questions of the emcee Steve Harvey.
In the roster of reigning beauties, USA has won the Miss Universe title 8 times (1954, ’56, ’60, ’67, ’80, ’95, ’97, and 2012). Venezuela has won 7 (1979, ’81, ’86, ’96, 2008, ’09 and ’17); Puerto Rico is in third spot with 5 winners (1970, ’85, ’93,2001, and ’06). The Philippines comes 4th with four winners (Gloria Diaz 1969, Margarita Moran ’73, Pia Wurtzbach ’15, and now Catronia Gay ‘18.)
BTW, we should actually be tied with Puerto Rico for third place, if we credit the roving eye of a young buck Virgilio Hilario who swept the first Miss Universe in 1952, the 17- year-old Armi Kuusela of Finland.
And to prove this was no fluke about hot-blooded Filipino machos, the first Miss International (1960) Stella Marquez was similarly swept off her feet by Jorge Leon Araneta.
Besides serving as honorary consul general of Colombia, Stella Marquez Araneta chairs the Binibining Pilipinas, which has the franchise for Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Supranational, Miss Intercontinental, Miss Grand International, and Miss Globe. To date, Ms. Araneta has produced, besides the four Miss Universe titleholders, six Miss International winners (Gemma Cruz, 1964; Aurora Pijuan, 1970; Melanie Marquez, 1974; Precious Lara Quigaman, 2005; Bea Rose Santiago, 2013; and Kylie Verzosa, 2016) — as well as a host of other close finishers in these events and other beauty tilts.
I remember my father Joe F. Zaide Sr. regaling us on how two Filipinos of the Philippine Reparations Commissioners were espyed walking downtown Tokyo with international beauties holding onto them — Hermie Atienza with Miss International and Greg Abad with Miss Universe. To which a foreign correspondent declared to my old man, “Blimey, Joe, with these two Filipinos, you have the World and the Universe!”
ATTENTIVE, AVAILABLE, COMMITTED. Taking it in reverse, from the ridiculous to the sublime: On a sleepy morning on the fourth day of misa de gallo, the priest Fr. David Domingues of the Comboni Missionaries, aka Fr. Dave, asked the parishioners in his accented Filipino, “Gising na ba kayo?” Because his homily would prove to be a deeper lesson in catechism.
Fr. Dave’s first message was about the attentiveness of the young Mary, when told by a an angel that she was blessed among women to be the mother of Our Lord Incarnate. How, when she had no knowledge of man? Digression: Our young today pick and choose what they would see or hear, shutting out the world with a Walkman. We should harken to the silence of the heart.
Mary was available. But she was betrothed to Joseph. Imagine the shame and scandal in the family if she were with child even before marriage? Much more in the small village where the tattle can be loudest. But she accepted the role as one born without original sin to bear the Child who would be our Redeemer.
Committed. The Child is born in a manger; (no advanced booking at hotels in those times.). Followed by the flight to Egypt to escape the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. Many years later, Mary and Joseph would lose sight of the Child, only to find Him holding His own with the priests and elders at the temple. She kept in her heart His reply: Did they not know that I would be about with my Father’s business? Much later, He would preach to everyone, only to run afoul with the Pharisees…which would lead to the cross at Golgota. Such was a burden that a Mater Dolorosa would bear.
Fr. Dave reminded us that the Golden Night is when the Word became Flesh, the high water mark of the misa de gallo. He concluded, in our longing and waiting for the coming of the Lord, that our model is Mary. From her, we learn attentiveness by cultivating a silent heart in the midst of our noisy world. With her, we learn availability to do the will of God (instead of chasing after our own petty dreams). Through her, we learn commitment to God in a world that fears commitment for life. By her example, in docility of heart, we learn to say, “Let it be done to me according to your Word.”
Think on it. If Mary had declined the role, we do not know how much longer we would have to wait for Christmas.
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