Miss Universe Philippines 2021 honors bygone era of Manila Carnival Queens

Throughout history, Filipinos have long been pageant fans

Filipino design talents and clothing heritage are again in the spotlight with the contenders of Miss Universe Philippines 2021 pageant paraded wearing their national costumes on Sept. 23, 2021. Stunning ternos, modern reimaginations of local textiles, thousands of feathers, crystal embellishments, and festive headdresses were donned by the beauty queens, each offering a story that reflects the provinces and cities they are representing. This year, the showcase pays homage to one of the country’s earliest pageants, the Manila Carnival Queens.

Miss Universe Philippines-Pangasinan 2021 Maureen Wroblewitz (Photo by Shaira Luna) and Miss Carnival Queen 1908 Pura Villanueva Kalaw (Photo from Manila Carnivals Blogspot)

“They are the first Filipina beauty queens whose names are still remembered by historians and pageant aficionados,” Miss Universe Philippines posted. “Their images wearing elaborate and intricate costumes live on in black and white photos. So we wanted to bring these back to life and imagine how they would have looked today.”

As given by its name, Manila Carnival is a local festival held in the capital during the American colonial period. The event allowed the country to showcase its commercial, industrial, and agricultural progress to foreign tourists. But the most sought-out part of the event was the crowning of the Carnival Queen.

No wonder Filipinos are so pageant-obsessed. Our passion for queens and celebrating beauty started earlier than the creations of the major international beauty contests today. A winner was determined by votes through money ballots or magazine coupons. In 1908, the first Manila Carnival Queen crowned two beauties, Iloilo’s Pura Villanueva (representing Oriental beauty) and Marjorie Radcliffe Colton from Illinois (Western beauty). And in 1927, the title changed from Manila Carnival Queen to Miss Philippines.

During that time, the Philippines’ most beautiful ladies wore spectacular costumes inspired by Egyptian, Siamese, and Arabian dressing. Mirroring that visual splendor today are the Filipino designers with their creations for the Miss Universe Philippines 2021 candidates.

“Our delegates’ costumes are all masterfully created for them by world-class Filipino designers. It showcases the Filipina beauty, heritage, and artistry interpreted in modern, traditional, and avant-garde ways. Regardless of its interpretation, at the very core is the heart of a Filipina who is proud of her history, heritage, and country.”

Check out what the delegates from the different regions of the country wore below:

One winner from the 28 contestants will be the successor of Miss Universe Philippines Rabiya Mateo, and will compete at the Mis Universe 2021 pageant in Eilat, Israel. The date of the coronation night is yet to be announced.