Tourism chief downplays Gabriela over exploitation issue in Ms. U hosting

DAVAO CITY — Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Teo has downplayed the allegations of Gabriela Women’s Party-list over the women’s exploitation issue on the hosting of Miss Universe in the Philippines.

In an interview after a press conference in Davao City on Friday, Teo retorted the statement issued by Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas on Wednesday (Jan 11), saying, “The hosting of the biggest beauty pageant in the world is not exploitation to the women but a showcase of their talent and intelligence.

Earlier, Brosas issued a statement saying that hosting the pageant in the country was just a “manipulative and deceptive tool that projects an image of peace and stability to cover up the creeping influence of fascist repression of poor women’s rising protests.”

“They can say what they want. But, at the end of…let’s listen what the general public want,” Teo said.

Teo also said the hosting of the pageant was not just a showcase of world class beauty, talent and intelligence of the candidates but also a showcase of the natural beauty of the Philippines. “What is important to me is to promote the Philippines as one of the world’s tourist destination,” she said.

Meanwhile, Teo said the informal settlers would not be hidden during the parade of 88 beauties in the country. “We will not do that because not all candidates came from wealthy countries. We will just let them what we are… We will let them see what is in the Philippines,” she said.

Teo declared all were set for the Miss Universe because all 88 candidates were expected to arrive in the country in the late evening of Friday.

She said by Saturday (Jan 14), all candidates would immediately go to Boracay for their photoshoot; then, the candidates will go to Vigan, Ilocos Norte for their Terno showcase.

After that they would go back to Manila for the Governor’s Ball. Then the next day, they would be in Cebu for their beach wear presentation, she said. The beach wear, Teo clarified is not a contest but just a showcase.

“All of the candidates will wear it including reigning 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach,” she said.

After Cebu, the candidates will go to Baguio City Country Club. Then the candidates will be split into two groups, the first will go to Davao City and the other will go to Batangas City on January 19.

She said after these two events the candidates will be restricted to Conrad Hotel where they will be housed.

“Pinakamalayo na siguro nilang mapupuntahan (The farthest they can go) is Manila Hotel,” she said. Armando Fenequito Jr./