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Miss Universe 2017 beauties head to Philippines

85 women from around the world descend on Cebu for the first event, the swimwear contest

  • Miss Universe Thailand, Chalita Suansane.Image Credit: Miss Universe Organization
  • Miss Universe Iceland, Hildur Maria Leifsdottir, and Miss Universe Great Britain, Jaime-Lee Faulkner.Image Credit: Miss Universe Organization
  • A 2017 Miss Universe contestant with MAC Cosmetics at the Conrad Hotel in Manila, Philippines on January 13, Image Credit: WME IMG
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On January 17, 85 gorgeous ladies from around the world will descend upon Cebu for the swimwear event of Miss Universe 2016. The tour is part of the Philippine Department of Tourism’s goal to showcase the beautiful places in the country.

The show, dubbed Kadaugan (victory in English), will have a tropical theme with an ethnic flavour. The show will be held at Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark in Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island, Cebu.

“I’m excited. Cebu has the biggest slice of the cake. All the candidates will be in Cebu. We are so lucky because the swimsuit pictorial will be in Jpark,” says Cebuano fashion designer Cary Santiago, the Project Coordinator of the Cebu Leg show. “In the morning, the candidates will have the swimsuit pictorial and in the evening, dinner and entertainment. There will be a fashion show and music.”

A former Dubai-based fashion designer, Santiago is now one of the Philippine’s top couturiers catering to top celebrities such as former presidential daughter and popular actress Kris Aquino.

“I planned and suggested the concept of the show — that the Miss Universe candidates will be the judges for this [fashion] event. It will be the other way around,” says Santiago. “There will be 20 designers all from Cebu that I hand-picked — they are the best of Cebu. Their creations will be worn by both Cebu and Manila beauty queens and top models. So the Miss Universe candidates will choose the top three best collection of the evening. There will be an interaction and participation from the candidates.”

Santiago will not join the competition but will dress the reigning Miss Universe, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, and other former beauty queens such as Shamcey Supsup and Maria Venus Raj, who will also host the event.

“We are not given the chance to dress the Miss Universe contestants, but the candidates who are representing their countries will be able to see what we Cebuano designers can offer.”

Cebu is considered as one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines and Santiago says the event will help create awareness about what the island has to offer. It has also produced several top international designers and artists such as Dubai-based Furne One, Monique Lhuillier and Kenneth Cobonpue.

“Cebu for me is the number one tourist destination in the Philippines,” says Santiago. “We have the beach, the mountains, the food, the nightlife, we have everything. We have the best diving sites. Cebu has more to offer. It is just proper that Cebu is given the biggest slice of the cake.”

He adds: “Other than that, we can give them world-class entertainment and the best food. Cebu is a design destination. We also produce accessories and furniture of famous international brand names. We have a good airport. We can showcase Cebu as a resort city.”