The Butcher | A hotel that once housed Miss Universe delegates is now in peril

The Miss Universe pageant just concluded today, November 19, 2023. By coincidence, the hotel that housed the Miss Universe delegates when the contest was held in the Philippines in 1974 is in the news. We’re talking about the Philippine Village Hotel which had ceased operations in 2001.

Photos: reddit.com (PVH), normannorman.com (MissUniverse 1974 winners)

The Miss Universe pageant just concluded today, November 19, 2023. By coincidence, the hotel that housed the Miss Universe delegates when the contest was held in the Philippines in 1974 is in the news. We’re talking about the Philippine Village Hotel which had ceased operations in 2001.

The Miss Universe pageant just concluded today, November 19, 2023. By coincidence, the hotel that housed the Miss Universe delegates when the contest was held in the Philippines in 1974 is in the news.

We’re talking about the Philippine Village Hotel which had ceased operations in 2001. Constructed during the early martial law days, the ownership of the structure of this once glorious hotel is one messy affair.     

Practically abandoned, there are still some individuals staying there – still claiming ownership. They’ve been ordered, however, by a Pasay City court to vacate the place – primarily because it is considered a security risk to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Terrorists, it is said, could stage attacks from there.     

Of course, there are also the legal issues regarding ownership. But let’s not go there anymore.     

Today’s generation surely does not know the significance of the Philippine Village Hotel (PVH). When Miss Universe was staged in the Philippines for the first time in 1974, the PVH was the most decent hotel in Manila.     

Although there was the Manila Hilton on UN Avenue, it was not exactly in tip-top condition. Same as the Hyatt Regency along Roxas Boulevard. Even the Manila Intercontinental was already considered “old” by then.     

The Manila Hotel that time had turned decrepit and was scheduled to be rebuilt. Shortly before its reconstruction, the only clients it impressed were new money rural folk. The truly rich went to either Hyatt or the Hilton.     

The Manila Peninsula, the Mandarin Hotel and the Philippine Plaza (Sofitel today) were constructed a couple of years later – in time for the World Bank-IMF conventions. And so, the only hotel that was best suited to house the Miss Universe delegates was the Philippine Village. For one, it was the closest hotel to the venue, the Folk Arts Theater, which was built in 81 days.     

The Philippine Village Hotel actually has a place in pop culture. This was mainly due to the fact that the Miss Universe contestants were billeted there.    

The period was July 1974. Everything in Manila practically stopped. All the news items that came out in the newspapers (when people still read) and television were about Miss Universe.     

Even those vending pictures of Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos on the sidewalks of Avenida Rizal stopped selling the photos of the two movie queens. Yes, photographs of movie stars used to be sold in the streets of Metro Manila. The pictures of these film idols were also put on notebooks that students used in school.     

But for the duration of the 1974 Miss Universe, local movie stars were set aside. On the sidewalks of Manila were sold color photos of the contestants in swimwear – a conservative one-piece bathing suit.     

Every Filipino home then had at least one snapshot the Miss Universe girls. The most salable was the photo of Miss Finland, Johanna Raunio, who later returned to the Philippines to do two local movies: Postcards from China and Lorelei (where she played dual roles – as a fashion model and as a mermaid).     

The most desirable local item for Filipinos living abroad (they were still basically concentrated in America in those days) were calendars (for 1975) that featured the Miss Universe candidates in their swimsuits. And where was the location for those swimwear pictorials? At the poolside of the Philippine Village Hotel, but of course.

Filipino playboys were all over the Philippine Village Hotel hoping to snag a foreign beauty. Two succeeded in marrying Miss Universe contestants: An Ysmael tied the knot with Miss Aruba, Maureen Ava Vieira, who also did movies in the Philippines (one with Dolphy). A scion of the wealthy Roces family (the theater owners) also married that year’s Miss Sweden, Eva Rompke.    

The Philippine Village Hotel also teemed with glorified “alalays” or assistants.  The word “katulong” was still politically correct that time. But the new derogatory term for house help then was “chimay.”     

Assisting the Miss Universe delegates then were not exactly housemaids from the provinces or some employment agency. They were from Manila’s prominent families. Most of them were even far wealthier than the Miss Universe delegates they were serving.     

Surely, those girls were not made to clean bathrooms and overturn the beds at the PVH. But they could be asked to fetch the papers or just about anything the Miss Universe delegates needed.     

Collectively, they were called “usherettes.” There was even a separate side contest for them. The winner was declared Miss Hospitality. But no one would want to be called that today – no, not even the actual hospitality girls working in clubs.    

A lot of money was also spent refurbishing one of the rooms at PVH that was eventually called the Miss Universe suite. Its furnishings even had mother-of-pearl inlay on them.    

Come coronation day, that suite was turned over to the winner, Malaga beauty Amparo Munoz of Spain. That was where she was served a luxurious breakfast in bed – complete with champagne.     

Another prize she received was a one-year exclusive use of Toda Island (off Zambales) that had been renamed Miss Universe Island. That piece of property was actually owned by Marcos crony Benigno Toda, but he agreed to lend it to the Miss Universe for one year.     

Even the Miss Universe suite at the Philippine Village Hotel was reserved for Amparo Munoz for her visits to the Philippines. But as it would later turn out, the Spanish beauty didn’t even get to finish her reign.

Señorita Munoz didn’t return to the Philippines until nine years later – when she did a movie with Gloria Diaz. It was called Hayop sa Ganda that bombed at the box-office.     

No, Amparo – or Amparito as some of her Filipino fans called her – didn’t get to use the Miss Universe Island. And there was no more Miss Universe suite waiting for her at the PVH. She was instead slapped with a legal suit after her falling out with her Filipino producer, Natalie Palanca.     

Incidentally, Amparo was not even around to crown her successor in the 1975 Miss Universe edition that was staged in El Salvador. The Philippine delegate that year was Chiqui Brosas – from the wealthy Singson family. A senior at the International School, Chiqui later did a cooking segment at Eat Bulaga.      

During the Miss Universe season in Manila in 1974, Chiqui was an usherette and was proud of it. The following year, she was already a contestant. And now that Miss Universe is being held again in El Salvador, Chiqui is hounded with interviews about her experiences in this Central American country.

But sadly, while Chiqui is being made to recall her fifth place finish in the contest held in El Salvador, no one seems to remember that it was at the Philippine Village Hotel where she had her first taste of how it was to be part of a glamorous Miss Universe event.            

It is unfortunate that the Philippine Village Hotel is now but a mere footnote when we talk about the world-renowned Filipino hospitality.

 

FOLLOW US ONLINE: 

Facebook: facebook.com/pikapikashowbiz

Twitter: twitter.com/pikapikaph

Instagram: instagram.com/pikapikaph/

YouTube: youtube.com/pikapikashowbiz

TikTok: https://vt.tiktok.com/ZGJBapkV4/

and join our Viber Community: tinyurl.com/PikaViber

Welcome to pikapika.ph! We use cookies to ensure your best experience when browsing this site. Continuing to use pikapika.ph means you agree to our privacy policy and use of cookies.