#Nostalgia: Miss Universe 1994 Finalist Charlene Gonzales Pt.2

The 43rd Miss Universe Pageant was hosted by the Philippines on a month long schedule of activities.

The pageant was back in Philippine shores after two decades and was held on May 20, 1994 at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center. It was a full flurry of activities as the girls visited Pearl Farm in Davao and Boracay, participated in a Flores de Mayo parade, strutted local designer creations in the Forma Filipina fashion show and toured Nayong FIlipino among others. Charlene being host delegate was present in welcoming the first salvo of candidate arrivals. She was ever the gracious host delegate as Miss Universe winner Sushmita Sen lent her earrings for the finals. It can be noted that the earrings that she wore during the Philippine terno competition were the ones that Sushmita wore during the finals.

Charlene was a favorite for the title alongside media favorites Colombian Carolina Gomez, USA’s Lu Parker and fan favorites Australian Michelle van Eimeren, Christelle Roetlands of Belgium, Venezuelan Minorka Mercado.
When she took home the Best National Costume award, it followed some controversy as other candidates cried foul with majority of the judging panel were Filipinos. To her defense, her Pitoy Moreno national costume incorporated traditional woven t’nalak fabrics with Bagobo & Higaonon influences. It was accentuated with the use of authentic T’boli brass belt and loads of T’boli brass bells on the entire outfit.

During the finals, her answer “High tide or low tide?” during the interview segment drew audience cheers and is still considered as one of the best Miss Universe moments by Filipino pageant fans. Charlene later revealed that she had to pause for a moment to get the answer right hence she asked the question to buy her some time. She managed to make top six before being eliminated from the competition.

Although she was not able to win the title, Charlene made Filipinos proud with her beauty and intelligence. Charlene later on became active in tv and films taking up roles like Dyesebel and doing shows like Eezy Dancing, Keep on Dancing and ASAP. Hers was a high-wattage caliber of beauty and talent that would later take a backseat after her marriage to Aga Mulach and raise a family.

Charlene’s plans of pursuing her medical studies (as she mentioned during her Binibining Pilipinas stint) did materialize as her showbiz career took off. However she did continue studying taking up a one-on-one Mentorship Program at Asian Institute of Management, focusing on Business Management and Entrepreneurship.  In 2009, she took up a course in Business Management Entrepreneurship at Harvard School of Business proving to her kids the importance of education.

Now at 43 years old she still looks as ravishing and gorgeous, if not even more so, as the day she won the 1994 Binibining Pilipinas Universe title in 1993. And I am perhaps one of the few fans who loves to entertain to see her host the next Binibining Pilipinas pageant with Miriam Quiambao and Ruffa Gutierrez. Wouldn’t an all-female host of the pageant be something to look forward to?


China is Officially Out of Hosting Miss Universe 2018

So our moles were right after all. The Miss Universe 2018 hosting in Manila is much more feasible than the China hosting that circulated on social media several weeks prior.
It was confirmed that the Miss Universe hosting in China fell through after Chinese officials could not agree on the live airing of the pageant. The live telecast could have potentially caused issues with the communist government should political questions be asked during the pageant. Airing a delayed telecast could lower down the ratings of the pageant as the presence of social media could spoiled the results even before the pageant is aired.

Below is a snippet of the article by Manila Bulletin…
After talks for the staging of the Miss Universe 2018 beauty pageant in China failed, the prestigious beauty pageant appears to be headed back to the Philippines, sources revealed Thursday.
“At this point, the Philippines is the favored country to host the Miss Universe pageant. If it pushes through, the beauty contest will help promote the reopening of Boracay Island in Aklan,” the same sources said.
Last month, Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart and MUO VP for Business Development and Marketing Shawn McClain traveled to China for an ocular of the possible venue for the pageant. They were accompanied by architect Richele Singson, daughter of former Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson and other officials of Hangzhou.
The talks broke down over China’s refusal to air the pageant live.
“China does not want to air the Miss Universe beauty contest live. All these years, the beauty pageant has been airing live so the organizers could not imagine if the event is taped or delayed,” the sources added.
With China out of the picture, the Philippines has a larger chance of hosting the pageant and could also be used to generate publicity for Boracay after its closure this month.

The Miss Universe Crowns: The 10th Anniversary Crown

The Miss Universe 10th Anniversary Crown

About the Crown: this is the first rhinestone crown of the Miss Universe pageant.It is said that the pageant wanted to create something new for its 10th year anniversary, hence the new design. This is the first crown that is bejeweled purely with rhinestones. But this crown will later serve as a jump-off point for the following ‘The Lady’ crown as it retained the flourish design details from the 10th anniversary crown.
Timeline: 1961- 1962 (only Marlene Schmidt and Norma Nolan has worn this crown)
Cost/ Price:  no available sources

#Nostalgia: Miss Universe 1994 Finalist Charlene Gonzales Pt.1

Arguably the biggest name to come out of the Binibining Pilipinas roster of winners from the 1990’s is Charlene Mae Gonzales – Bonnin.
Born to actor Bernard Bonnin and model Elvira Gonzales on 1 May 1974, she was a pageant and showbiz royalty. Her mom Elvira was 1st runner up at the first Binibining Pilipinas pageant in 1964. Her dad was a known actor and her cousin JC Bonnin was an 80’s heartthrob. Charlene also has a younger brother, actor Richard Bonnin.

Even at her young age then, she deliberately omitted her famous last name so as not to get an unfair advantage being from a showbiz family. She wanted to compete in a level playing field. And compete she did as her batch was one of the most competitive batch back then.

The 1994 Binibini batch included a wide range of ladies from aspiring actresses, students, pageant veterans to supermodels the likes of Maria Sovietskaya Bacud, Caroline Subijano (Supermodel of the Philippines 1991), Alma Concepcion, Janine Barredo (cousin to Bb. Pilipinas World 1993 Ruffa Gutierrez), Abbygale Arenas (Supermodel of the Philippines 1992 & Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1997), Morena Carla Cabrera (Mutya ng Pilipinas 1995 winner)  and Shiela Marie Dizon… all of whom at least placed as a semifinalist at the coronation night.
The Binibining Pilipinas 1994 coronation night was actually held on November 1993, four months earlier than its usual schedule. The national pageant was moved due to preparations for the 1994 Miss Universe pageant.

19 year old Charlene was still a BS Psychology student at the University of Santo Tomas at that time. The 5’8″ student joined Binibining Pilipinas 1994 as a ward under Pitoy Moreno hence she was wearing a Pitoy gown for the finals. She garnered two special awards that night: Best in Swimsuit and the Miss Close Up Smile award… Back then those two special awards were thought as precursor to the Binibining Pilipinas Universe title by pageant aficionados. Charlene’s eventual husband Aga Mulach was part of the judging panel that year.

After her crowning as Bb. Pilipinas Universe, Charlene did get to shoot a movie (titled Ikaw ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko) with fellow beauty queens Miss Asia Pacific 1993 Michelle Aldana, 1993 Look of the Year Ana Gonzales, Janine Barredo and Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1993 Dindi Gallardo with Andrew E, Nino Mulach, Dale Villar and Patrick Guzman.
Part 2 coming next week!

Alpha Pageant Franchise Fees

Just before you read further, a disclaimer first: the figures included in today’s blog feature are neither actual confirmed nor accurate numbers. The pageant industry is notoriously secretive on the franchise fees that they charge different national directors.

The (unconfirmed) Franchise Fee estimates of the Alpha Four Pageants…

So with that out of the way, here is the estimated approximation of the franchise fees for the four biggest international pageants.
Miss World – they charge around a measly US$ 10k for every national pageant but there is a catch, each pageant franchise are said to require to have a national pageant where its main winner goes to MW.
Miss Universe – one of the highest fees in the pageant circuit as the pageant is the most competitive among the 4. Newbie countries are supposedly charged around US$ 10k while bigger and more competitive countries like Venezuela and Thailand  are rumored to go beyond 100k.
Miss International – UPDATE (April 18, 12noon) according to some sources close to a ND, the MI has a ‘franchise fee’ that starts from US$1,000 up to US$ 10,000. However each of the franchise holders/ national directors can choose how much they can pay for the franchise fees.
Miss Earth – with the third biggest participants among the four pageant the ME  franchise fees are relatively smaller although not as much as MI.

The Miss Universe Crowns: The Star of the Universe Crown

The Star of the Universe Crown

About the Crown: This is the first crown specifically designed for the Miss Universe pageant. The crown is made up of approximately 1,000 Oriental cultured and black pearls set in solid gold and platinum frame and weight 1.25 pounds.
Timeline: 1954-1960 (the first and last winners to wear the crown were both Americans: Miriam Stevenson & Linda Berndt)
Cost/ Price: the crown was insured for $500,000 (it was also said that due to the price of the crown, securty is always around to guard it).
Trivia: This crown was only used three times by the Miss Universe winner: first when she is crowned, second is when she passes her crown to her successor and the third was rumored to be when she is to take her official Miss Universe portrait.

* https://www.preview.ph/fashion/timeline-miss-universe-crowns-through-the-years-a178-20170111
* https://www.cosmo.ph/style/trend-alert/miss-universe-crowns-a00176-20170129
* https://worldcupbeauty.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/the-miss-universe-crown-through-the-years/