Gloria Diaz: Gorgeous at 55

Gloria Diaz
Miss Universe 1969 - Gloria Diaz
If a man on the moon would come down, how would you entertain him?

“I guess since he has been in the moon so long he would enjoy anything that an ordinary man would.”
With that witty answer to a question popped to the five finalists by host Bob Barker, Gloria Diaz, 18, bagged the country’s first Miss Universe crown, with the headlines saying America conquered the moon, because Neil Armstrong took the first ever human step on the moon at the time the 1969 Miss Universe Pageant was being held in Miami, Florida (37 years ago this month), but “the Philippines conquered the Universe!”It was the first time that the
Miss Universe Pageant posed the question to the five finalists.

The final question was an off and on feature of the pageant until in 1990 when it had taken root and every pageant since then had the finalists answer a final question.

If asked the same question today, how do you think Gloria Diaz , 55, would answer?Laughed Gloria, “I would say, ‘I’ll give him a cellphone so he can text me’.”Cellphon
es were not even a seed in the electronic mind of inventors during that “Gloria in Excelsis!” era.

Since then, so many things have changed.Gloria joined showbiz after she relinquished her crown and introduced the “wet look” with her first movie, Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa; survived a marriage to best friend Bong Daza with whom she has two beautiful daughters, Isabelle (named after Gloria’s character in Pinakamagandang Hayop), 18 a Child Psychology sophomore at La Salle; and Ava, 15, high school junior at Assumption (which frowns on students whose photos appear in the media); plus adopted son Raphael (22, a second year college student at La Salle) who has made Gloria and Bong lola and lolo twice over.

Many other milestones have happened in the life of Gloria who is now happy with her beloved Mike de Jesus (a banker), a very private person who is the exact opposite of all the men linked to Gloria.In the following conversation, Gloria recalls those days of glory and what else happened between then and now – and why she wouldn’t let any of her daughters follow in her Miss Universe footsteps.

What comes to your mind when you watch a beauty contest, especially a Miss Universe Pageant?

“You know, it’s funny but I don’t relate to the whole proceedings; I relate to the whole thing only when the winner’s name is announced. When I watch a beauty contest, I think of my kids, but not of myself joining. It has nothing to do with me. You know, if Isabelle ever joins a contest... I hope she never will. Even watching fashion shows, hindi ako maka-relate; I only think of my kids in it.”

How did you feel at that moment when the spotlight suddenly focuses on the new winner as soon as you put the crown on her head (her successor was Marisol Malaret of Puerto Rico)?

“That’s the reality. Just before the pageant, you are the focus and the center of everything. But as soon as you pass on your crown, you’re out; nasa sidelines ka na lang. I think they give you 48 hours to vacate the suite and you’re on your own. Baka ngayon, with Donald Trump, baka they give the Miss Universe only 24 hours. In fact, on the night you crown the new winner, you lose your limo; they give it to the new winner.”

Did you feel, you know, rejected?

“No. It’s just... how do you call it? awakening – reality striking back. When you are Miss Universe, everything seems so unreal, parang fairy tale. You can have anything you ask for. And then, after one year, it’s back to reality.”

What’s the best thing about being Miss Universe?
“I guess having done my best for the country.”

You’ll forever be the first Filipina Miss Universe.

“You know, the pressure during my time was not that big. The country had never won the crown so I, and the girls before me, were expected to do so. I think the pressure on the girls now is much, much more.”

And the worst, if any?

“I was 18 then and at that time uso ang mga disco and hanging around. I never experienced that phase of growing up. Parang that never happened in my life. Right away, I was working and traveling. I missed all the parties that girls my age were going to.”

Do you realize that that was 37 years ago?

“I know! Isn’t that awesome? Thirty-seven years and we are still around!”

What were your vital statistics when you won?

“34-24-34.”And now?“36-27-37.”

Has any part of your body been, well, “enhanced”?

"Renovated,’ you mean?”In a way.“Not yet, not yet! I don’t want to say never because that’s very difficult to say. But if I hit 60 and I haven’t done it, I guess I won’t. Not that I don’t need it. Nowadays, I’m not basically aware of beauty; I give it na to Isabelle and Ava – you know, sa inyo na ‘yan. I think I’m more aware now of my health. I eat mostly vegetables. I try to avoid fats and sugar.”

If you didn’t become Miss Universe, what would you have been today?

“Maybe I would have finished Law and become a lawmaker and a politician. Maybe I would have joined an NGO and done public service. But definitely, I would be married to somebody rich so I would be honest.”

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Anonymous 5:05 AM PDT  

When i vistied the Philippines in 1974, someone mistook me for Gloria Diaz. We were having dinner at one of the top hotels and it was dark. I was wearing the Philippines national dress and so it was a real complement for me. When Gloria won the title, i was told that i looked like her. That's wonderful to know that she is a mother of 2 beautiful girls and i have 2 gorgeous sons aged 24 and 21. I wish i could meet her one day.

Maynilabelle 7:02 PM PDT  

I wonder what she meant by being honest if she married someone rich?

If you didn’t become Miss Universe, what would you have been today?

“...But definitely, I would be married to somebody rich so I would be honest.”

Anonymous 7:56 AM PDT  

It’s actually Gloria Diaz who needs an interpreter in the first place, because of her poor diction in English. Had she been properly trained in grammar, she wouldn’t have caught herself in trouble now. Her failure to use pronoun “who” to represent antecedent “Cebuana” is an indication that she doesn’t have the right to single out a Cebuana for lack of English proficiency. With “who” between “Cebuana” and “can” her statement would’ve sounded more acceptable, for she might have just wanted to say an example.

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