EXCLUSIVE: THRILLMAKER: Jonas Gaffud hints at who the MUPH wants in 2022

Jonas Gaffud (Instagram)

For two consecutive years now, the Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) Organization has pageant fans guessing what template or prototype it has in choosing the country’s representative to the world’s most prestigious pageant.

During its first year, the eventual choice was pageant newbie Rabiya Mateo who won over veterans Michelle Gumabao and Alaiza Malinao, which many considered an upset win. Last year, the crown was passed on to Cebu City’s Beatrice Luigi Gomez, who edged out early front-runners and former Philippine reps Katrina Dimaranan and Maueen Wroblewitz — another dark horse victory. Good thing, both crowned beauties eventually did the country proud by placing in their respective international competitions. Mateo made it to the Top 21 of her batch, while Gomez went as far as the magic 5 last year.

These results of previous competitions may prompt people to ask what seems to be becoming obvious: “Do these rather unexpected victories, mean that the MUPH is more inclined to crowning its own newbie queens rather than those who have been previously branded with other pageants?” The question seems to beg for an immediate answer, as the Miss Universe Philippines is about to get started with its 2022 search.

Lady luck, afforded the Thrillmaker to the chance to ask this question (and more) when we recently bumped into MUPH Creative Director Jonas Gaffud at the Hilton Hotel in Resorts World Manila. He was quick in denying that the MUPH has anything against pageant veterans, who are sometimes also referred to as “recycled” beauties.


“Go lang ng go. Kasi mas sanay talaga sila (veterans) sa stage. International? Mas kaya nilang lumaban din. Pero syempre, we can’t do anything naman if someone will really shine, even if she’s not a veteran. Now that we want Miss Universe Philippines to be staged earlier, we have more time to train the girls who will join, whoever will win, no matter if she is new or a veteran. They have the same months of training and preparation naman,” Gaffud said.

So what is the organization looking for exactly? This year’s Miss Universe winner, Harnaaz Sandhu, seems to deviate from the mold of former queens who won in their mid-to-late-twenties. She’s a celebrity in her local India and not exactly the “advocate, crusader” type of queen.

“We have no formula naman, di ba? As long as she is committed, focused, beautiful and with a good disposition in life,” he explained, further expounding that what really is essential is for the country’s representative to have an innate star quality, “Basta when she enters the room, s'ya na yun. She has that appeal, she has that star appeal. Yun dapat ang hinahanap natin.”

If such is the case, would he say that qualified ladies who may have had exposures in show business would have an edge in the competition? “Actually, it’s better. Kasi they know na how to play with the camera. They know na how to perform on stage. Then again, it’s really luck din talaga. If it’s their night to win. With Miss Universe Philippines, it’s an equal playing field for everyone.”

Speaking of ensuring that the MUPH competition is kept an equal playing field, Gaffud vehemently denies he only favors delegates sent by his former pageant camp Aces and Queens and is barring representatives from other training groups from winning the MUPH crown: “I don’t have anything to do with Aces (and Queens), and what they do. I have so many things on my plate that I don’t even have time to think of the things they are doing na mga trainings and all, who their girls are. Looking at us in Miss Universe Philippines, we’re very fair. We have SGV, we have judges. Our main concern is to have a very good show, the girls are well taken care of, we feed everybody well and then the winners feel like they are really queens,” he clarified.