Erratum: Ariel Casilao is the first nominee of Anakpawis Partylist and not the third nominee as previously reported. Our apologies. -Ed


DAVAO CITY – The Filipino people is jubilant after Philippine candidate  took home the crown of Miss Universe on Sunday (Monday in Philippine time) at the Planet Hollywood resort in Las Vegas.

Pia Wurtzbach was crowned Miss Universe 2015 during the 64th edition of the beauty pageant. Wurtzbach is the third Filipina to win the crown after Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973.

However, while they are celebrating the winning of Wurtzbach, members of progressive groups expressed dismay over her answer during the pageant’s question and answer portion before picking the competitions top three candidates.

Wurtzbach was asked:  “Do you think the US should have a military base in the country?”

She answered: “I think that the US and the Philippines have a good relationship with each other. We’ve been colonized by the Americans and we have their culture. Philippines is very welcoming with the Americans and I don’t see any problem with that at all.”

Mae Fe Ancheta-Templa, a known child and woman’s rights advocate and a member of Gabriela Network of Professionals (G-Net) in Davao said it is a pity that Wurtzbach is not familiar with the historical development of US and Philippine relations.

“She has no grasp of the historical development of the US-Philippine relations and the impact of US troops in the country. It is a pity for our beauty queen because she is not conscious on the impact of the deployment of a significant number of US troops in Mindanao,” said Templa.

She added that: “It’s unfortunate that our beauty queen is not trained to answer socio-political issues. Although we want to project that the Filipino women are empowered, we haven’t changed our views on beauty contest, that this only projects women as commodities.”

Gabriela Davao chairperson Dr. Jean Lindo agreed with Templa and said the answer of Wurtzbach reflects the education system of the country.

“I don’t think intelligence, in as far as Ms Universe pageant is concerned, is defined by knowledge of human rights principles or social justice or solidarity principles. Her answer on the military bases favors the collective egos of corporate America, represented by Donald Trump, the Miss Universe franchise owner,” said Lindo.

“So if you have an IQ even by a fraction higher than that of Trump’s she is good. Miss Universe uses different standards. The present Miss Universe has a personal opinion which is one of sincere ignorance on sovereignty. And she expressed it gracefully. Blame that on her education system,” she said.

Ariel Casilao, council member of Makabayan Coalition and the first nominee for Anakpawis Partylist, said the “mis-education” of Filipinos, including Wurtzbach, on national issues is “a by-product of the deeply rooted colonial mentality that involves the upbringing of an educational system that is historically erroneous.”

“What good historical relationship is she referring to? The three-century-old oppression experienced by our people under the hands of the American rule which the Heneral Luna film concretely explained?” said Casilao.

He said the problematic relationship of the Philippines with the US has led to cases of rape against “Nicole” who was raped by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith in November 2005 in Subic; and the Filipino-transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude who was killed by US Marine, Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton last year.

Barangay Chairman of Matina Crossing and former chairperson of the City Council Committee on Women and Children, Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad said: “Let us not be too hard on Ms. Pia, for she is a product of a colonial and oppressive educational system after all.”

“I am disappointed, but not as furious as when the Philippine government continues to sell us out to the United States government. Her answer is a reminder that this fight against US imperialism is not over,” she said.

Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Party lawmaker Emmi De Jesus said Wurtzbach answer “contradicts her concern for humanity.”

“We hope she will have a change of mind and heart on this issue by learning the history of our nation under US colonial rule,” she said.

The  group also encouraged the newly-crowned beauty queen to “look into the case of the brutal killing of Jennifer Laude and other criminal abuses of US military in the Philippines and other countries and be a powerful voice to seek justice for the victims.”

Casilao also said it is a challenge for Wurtzbach on how she can be a positive tool in advocating the issues of the Laude and Nicole.

“Likewise, it would be best for her to study and learn the different issues involving our government’s foreign policy and for her to realize that she can be an instrument to correct the information,” he said.

But they commend Wurtzbach answer on the second question on why she should be named Miss Universe.

“We commend her for raising the issue of HIV-AIDS as one problem that needs to be addressed globally,” she said.

Wurtzbach answered the question with: “To be a Miss Universe is both an honor and responsibility. If I were to be Miss Universe, I will use my voice to influence the youth and I would raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness that is timely and relevant to my country which is the Philippines. I want to show the world, the universe rather, that I am confidently beautiful with a heart.”

Templa said Wurtzbach’s answer is really meaningful “to the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer community.

The Philippines has 22 persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) everyday.(

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