LIST: Filipinos who became Miss Universe judges

Published December 7, 2021, 3:45 PM

by John Legaspi

Pinoys who have, once upon a time, been among those who chose the most beautiful woman in the universe

There are only very few moments in history when the best of the best from countries all over the world come together for one sole purpose. There’s the United Nations and its global affairs, the highly spirited Olympic Games, and then there’s the Miss Universe pageant. Annually, the international beauty contest gathers not only the most beautiful ladies from every nation in one stage, it also brings together a diverse group of notable personalities and tasks them to choose a woman that encapsulates everything the organization stands for—a lady that is “confidently beautiful with a heart” and all.

In past editions of the pageant, it has brought political leaders, changemakers, Olympic medalists, artists, fashion creatives, and activists to be part of its judging panel. For almost seven decades of its journey, the organization has welcomed a number of Filipino marvels to help choose a representative to bestow its shining crown.

From left: Lea Salonga, Kuh Ledesma, Josie Natori, Richelle Singson-Michael, Pia Wurtzbach, Monique Lhuillier, Don Emilio T. Yap, Manny Pacquiao, and Carlos P. Romulo (Art by Ariana Maralit)

As we enter a new Miss Universe season, let’s take a look at the past Filipino personalities who became part of the pageant’s selection committee:

1974: Carlos P. Romulo

It was in 1974 that the Miss Universe first came to the Philippines, making it the pageant’s first Asian host country. On July 21, the pageant took place at the newly built Folk Arts Theater in Manila, and among its panel of judges was the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, the late Carlos P. Romulo. The event ended with 1973 winner Margarita Moran-Floirendo, now Cultural Center of the Philippines chairperson, crowning Spain’s Amparo Muñoz.

1989: Josie Natori

Set in Cancún, Mexico, the 38th Miss Universe pageant had international Filipino fashion designer Josie Natori in its judging committee. Angela Visser of the Netherlands was the crowned winner.

1991: Kuh Ledesma

Filipino singer Kuh Ledesma became one of the judges for the Miss Universe 1991 pageant, which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada in the USA. Prior to her appearance in the pageant, Kuh has been showcasing her musical prowess through concerts held in New York and London. She, together with the other panelist, chose Mexico’s Lupita Jones as the winner.

1994: Don Emilio T. Yap

The Philippines hosted the prestigious pageant for the second time in 1994, with the ceremony held at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. One of the judges was the Manila Bulletin’s former chairman of the board and vice president of the executive department, Don Emilio T. Yap. During that time, Dayanara Torres of Puerto Rico, who became an actress in the Philippines, crowned Sushmita Sen of India.

2011: Lea Salonga

After almost two decades, a Filipino again graced the pageant as judge, and it was Tony award-winning singer and actress Lea Salonga. The “Miss Saigon” star asked the question “If you could change one of your physical characteristics, which one would it be and why?” to Angola’s Leila Lopes, who became the winner. The pageant was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

2014: Manny Pacquiao

Senator Manny Pacquiao also became a judge at the Miss Universe pageant. In the contest’s 2014 edition held in Miami, Florida, the boxing champ asked a question about global terrorism to USA’s Nia Sanchez. The candidate ended up as the first runner-up to Colombia’s Paulina Vega.

2017: Pia Wurtzbach

Crowned Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach came back to the competition by sitting on the other side of the table as a judge. The 2017 contest took place at the same stage where Pia won two years ago, at The AXIS at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa was the crowned 2017 winner.

2018: Monique Lhuillier and Richelle Singson-Michael

Two Filipino women were part of the all-female judging panel of Miss Universe 2018 in Thailand. They are international fashion designer Monique Lhuillier and architect and businesswoman Richelle Singson-Michael. Catriona Gray took home the fourth Miss Universe crown for the Philippines during the event.

Currently, Filipino actress Marian Rivera is set to be the 10th Filipino to become a judge with her upcoming appearance at the 70th Miss Universe pageant, which will be held at Eilat, Israel on Dec. 13, 2021 at 7:30 a.m. (PHT).