MANILA, Philippines — When Filipinos heard an interpreter translate Miss Universe host Steve Harvey's question for Miss Philippines Maxine Medina, their hearts skipped a beat, hoping that Maxine will answer the question in her native Filipino and become the first Filipina candidate in the pageant's history to use an interpreter.
But she did not. She still answered the question in English after it was translated. Why? On the eve of the competition, Miss Universe 4th runner-up Venus Raj gave some clues.
"I don't see anything wrong in using an interpreter. Actually, it will help a lot," she said.
It is in their contract in Binibining Pilipinas, however, to not use an interpreter, Venus said.
"Actually, during my time, I was asking for an interpreter, but the local franchisee did not allow me. And of course, I want to abide by the rules of the authority," she explained.
If Venus would have her way, she would like to take it out of the contract.
"I can only speak for myself. I don't know about their opinion. But for me, if you can speak your native tongue in an international audience, if you're talking to the crowd using your native language, it will be beautiful."
She, however, respects the fact that "it's the local franchise's prerogative to have interpreter."
"It's a good thing that they really believe in the Filipinos' English speaking skills. Everybody speaks English in the Philippines. But if you can express more in Tagalog," she said.
She thinks that Binibining Pilipinas, the national beauty contest franchise that sends representatives to the likes of Miss Universe, has changed a lot in allowing Filipino designers to dress up candidates, so she hopes the organization will also soften when it comes to the interpreterissue.
"During my time, we were not allowed to wear gowns from Filipino designers. But now, they have changed. They have opened to Filipino designers. In fact, they're inviting Filipino designers to design for the candidates," Venus said.
She believes that just like the question and answer portion, hair and makeup are very important and can make or break one's beauty. She also affirmed that wearing a Filipino designer helped Pia Wurtzbach win last year.
"It's a big help to the girl if she's confident with the clothes she's wearing. If she feels beautiful with what she's wearing, it also radiates with the person," she said, explaining the value of having the total package.