Emotional Pia Wurtzbach recalls challenging road to Miss Universe

Alexa Villano

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Emotional Pia Wurtzbach recalls challenging road to Miss Universe
It took Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach 3 years to win the crown

MANILA, Philippines – On Sunday, December 20 (Monday, December 21 in Manila), the Philippines’ Pia Wurtzbach was crowned Miss Universe 2015.

Pia first joined Binibining Pilipinas in 2013, where she placed first runner-up. She then joined again in 2014, but only made it to the Top 15.

During the final, host Steve Harvey made a mistake in calling out the winner of the competition. Colombia was announced Miss Universe, before Steve went back onto the stage to explain that Miss Universe 2015 was actually Miss Philippines. He apologized for the mistake.

Pia is the 3rd Miss Universe from the Philippines. Gloria Diaz won the title in 1969 and Margarita Moran won in 1973.

During her and Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental Christi Lynn McGarry’s send-off on November 26, Pia became emotional as she recalled the challenges and struggles she had to overcome to finally represent the country in the Miss Universe pageant, to be held in Las Vegas on December 20 (December 21, Manila time).

Pia shared to the press: “Lord knows how long it took me to get here. Finally, I have my own send-off.

“I have been to so many send-offs already, but I never had my own,” Pia said as she wiped away tears. (READ:Miss Universe PH Pia Wurtzbach: I’m not going to waste my victory)

“It feels like I won again. Now because it’s starting to sink in that I am actually going to Miss Universe. It’s like the moment when I first saw my picture in the Miss Universe website. It’s like I used to browse at the website and look at the girls, you know, pick my favorite.  And now, I’m one of them as Miss Philippines. I can’t believe it.”

Pia also recalled the bashing and criticism she went through for joining the pageant for the third time. (READ: Miss Universe PH Pia Wurtzbach: Work around your weaknesses)

“People are laughing at me and saying that trying hard daw ako. So my answer is, ‘Yeah, trying hard talaga ako.’ I try very hard – I try very hard because this is what I want,” she said.

Pia also recalled the time she first screened for Bb Pilipinas in 2013. She went to the screening with Ara Arida, who later won the title of Miss Universe Philippines 2013. According to Pia, she was the first girl that the organization’s chairwoman, Stella Marquez Araneta saw. Pia never forgot their conversation.  (IN PHOTOS: Pia Wurtzbach’s 3-year Bb Pilipinas journey)

“She said to me, ‘I hope all the other candidates this year will be as beautiful as you,'” Pia said.

“And I’ll never forget it because as soon as I went home, kinuwento ko kina (I told) Mama J (Jonas Gaffud) na alam mo ba ang sabi sa akin ni Madame? Do you know what she said to me?’ I was so kilig (giddy)….I was so kilig that I got a rose, I was so kilig that I got a number, a screening number. I still have that screening number,” Pia said, adding she kept everything as a reminder of the journey she went through.

A gift for the Philippines?

In a separate interview, Pia said that she is ready for the competition that awaits her in Las Vegas.

Meron naman akong  (I have a) game plan. Hindi naman yung game plan na may i-paplot ako (It’s not a game plan wherein I’m going to plot something).  Pero (But), I’m just going to be myself because well, it’s been working and I just don’t want to force things. I just want it to flow naturally,” she said.

Pia with Bb Pilipinas Intercontinental Christi Lynn McGarry during their send-off in Novotel. Both ladies are set to leave for their pageants in Las Vegas and Germany. Photo by Alexa Villano/Rappler

Pia said that her sister and fiance will watch the competition. Her mom, meanwhile, will stay behind to look after her sister’s baby. Her friends will fly in to watch her on the big night. 

As for her message to the Filipinos supporting her, Pia said: “I’ll do my best. [It’s] the least I can do. I’m just going to represent the Philippines and the Filipino people 100%. This time, I’m not going to be Pia Wurtzbach anymore, [I won’t be] Binibini number 10 anymore. I’m there as Miss Philippines and I’m just so excited to wear a sash that says ‘Philippines’ and hold the Philippine flag. I’m very proud,” she said.

Pia said if that there is one thing she wants her fellow delegates and the world to know about the country, it’s that the Philippines is a fun country.

“For the past years, it’s always been sob stories about the Philippines. Palagi na lang meron nasalanta, may masamang balita sa TV. Na may bagyo tayo, may ganito at ganyan. Palagi na lang ganun ang kuwento natin.  (It’s always there’s a calamity, there’s bad news on TV. We were hit by a typhoon, there’s this and that. That’s always our story.) But this time, I wanna go there and show them, that we’re fun. Why would we call it ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines?'” she said, referring to the Department of Tourism’s marketing campaign.  

“I want to show them that it’s fun to be in the Philippines, that’s why people come back here all the time. That’s why I live here alone even if I could be with my family. Because it’s really the people, the place. And iyon ang gusto ko na ipakita sa kanila (That’s what I want to show them). Let’s stop all of these ‘yung paawa na lang tayo palagi (we’re always pitiful). Hindi masaya. Masaya sa Pilipinas. (It’s not fun. It’s fun in the Philippines). That’s what I want show them.”

During her send-off, Pia was asked what her wish was since the pageant was 5 days away from Christmas.

She said: “That I have no regrets. That whatever the outcome may be, that I will have no regret that I could have done more, that I could have gone this way or that way.”

“After the pageant, I just want peace of mind. That’s it. Yung alam ko na (that I know that) I graduated with flying colors, and I prefer the color blue with ice cubes and want it silver…I don’t know, I think it’s called a crown. I’d like to graduate with that,” she said laughing, referring to the Miss Universe crown.

Pia hopes to come home with the crown and this joyful message: “Mabuhay Philippines! This is my Christmas gift to all of you.” – Rappler.com

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Alexa Villano

Alexa is one of Rappler's Lifestyle and Entertainment reporters, covering local entertainment news to a wide range of topics from beauty pageants to reality shows.