Lea Salonga, on her Philippine Daily Inquirer column, talked about her journey as Miss Universe 2011 judge, Miss Philippines Shamcey Supsup, the Q&A portion, and Miss Universe 2011 winner Leila Lopes of Angola.
- Taken from Lea Salonga's PDI column titled "Backstory"
SÃO PAULO, Brazil - Hello, Universe!
It's Sept. 12. Today is the day… tonight is the night… the destiny of one young woman will be changed forever, when she becomes the newest Miss Universe.
I'm going to write this as a journal entry. Perhaps it's the best way to chronicle my brief stay here, one of the biggest cities in the world.
1:09 p.m., Grand
I've now settled quite nicely in my . This is the official hotel of the Miss Universe judges. Our call time to meet in the lobby (well, for those requiring full hair and makeup anyway) is at 3:15 p.m., so I'm expecting to meet the other ladies on the panel. The gentlemen, I expect, will not need anything more than a touch-up.
My Monique Lhuillier gown has probably had a much more exciting trip on its way to Los Angeles… when the bright idea came up to wear this beautiful taffeta gown, my mother had the task of making sure that it was transported to me safely.
I have to say, she practically moved heaven and earth on my behalf, , finding resources and then finally sending off my gown (plus a Gabriel Barredo purse) via a passenger on . So, to everyone that helped in getting my gown to me, a huge, huge THANK YOU!!! You know who you are.
also had to be similarly cranked around to accommodate this wonderful opportunity. Thankfully, my management team was on hand to facilitate the schedule changes, moving a few planets as well to get this done.
So, I'd like to give a huge THANK YOU to the kind and understanding folks at Catalina Bar & Grill and at The Grove. My performances have been officially moved to Oct. 24 and Oct. 27, respectively.
The flight from to Atlanta to São Paulo went uneventfully. I had finished a couple of concerts the night before at Sycuan, after which my band, cousin and friends sent me off with an impromptu despedida in our hotel.
After grabbing a few hours of sleep, a waiting car brought me to the San Diego airport to check in for my flight.
And now, here I am, with some traditional Brazilian food by me as I type this entry. I'd better stock up on energy, as I have a long day ahead.
2:52 a.m., post-pageant
At 3:15 p.m., the judges who needed makeup and hair all met in the lobby to be transported to the venue. I was the first one downstairs, followed by Connie Chung, Adrienne Maloof, and finally Amelia Vega.
All of us had garment bags in tow plus small pieces of luggage for the rest of our stuff. I brought along copies of my new CD to give to them.
We arrived at Credicard Hall before 4 p.m. and headed straight to our green-room area where a team of Kryolan and Chi hairdressers were waiting for us.
My makeup guy was a man named Matias who hailed from Argentina, while the man that did my hair was Arturo from Atlanta. Once 6 p.m. hit, all the other judges had arrived (save for Isabelli Fontana who was stuck in traffic), so it was time for us to be briefed.
Look for that 'it'
We were told to be objective, to look for that "it" factor and (the young woman chosen would have a whirlwind of a life following her win, so she needed to be strong). We were then shown a video of the 16 semi-finalists who were chosen during the preliminary competition.
Many of us kept this group in mind as we headed downstairs to the theater to learn how to use the computers. A representative from Ernst and Young gave us another briefing on how to score and use the consoles.
Immediately after our final briefing, it was time for us to walk the red carpet. I spied some members of the press from home and did a few interviews with them before heading back to the green room for dinner.
After a quick bite, the judges were then called to head back downstairs for the telecast. I took my seat (I was Judge No. 7), got settled and started focusing.
I would only begin at the swimsuit competition. As each contestant came out, we had to rank them. I took each candidate as a separate entity, not comparing one girl to another. At the competition, I did the same, looking to see which girls wore their gowns, and which gowns wore the girls.
My stomach started to turn when the Final 5 were called, as this would mean it was time for the final question. Contrary to popular belief, we as judges don't come up with the questions; they are assigned to us. Although I got some amazing suggestions on Facebook and Twitter (thank you all, by the way), I couldn't use them.
As far as the runners-up were concerned, I think each judge had a different ranking, depending on how each girl came across to which judge. I had no idea how anyone else scored. I might have ranked one girl high while someone else ranked that same girl low.
Except of course for the eventual winner, Miss Angola Leila Lopes. I think we were all unanimous in our decision. She radiated grace and elegance from the moment she stepped on stage, and gave a great answer to her final question (which I happened to ask her; she picked my name out of the fishbowl. And that is all, lest anyone think that I made luto that process. No way.)
I ranked Shamcey Supsup second, if I'm being honest. What the TV audience saw could have been different from what we saw. And although Miss Philippines ranked highly up until the final question, we had to consider every single part of the competition. I really liked her answer as she displayed conviction and honesty. But there are nine of us judging.
I thought Shamcey represented our country very well. Smart, spirited, gorgeous. I wasn't at all disappointed because she displayed what is so great about Filipino women: strength, beauty, intelligence. She should be very happy.
First thing I said to her was congratulations! I then asked if I could have a photo taken with her.
I don't know what others thought of Shamcey, all our moves were being monitored and any sort of serious discussion might be misconstrued.
Right after the pageant's conclusion, security whisked us back to the green room. There were a couple of parties that followed, but I didn't stay long at either of them. I had a looming deadline and I've found myself disdainful at loud music and way too many strobe lights.
I'm now back in my with a snack and soothing music playing. A peaceful end to a very exciting night. To the new Miss Universe, congratulations on a marvelous competition. Enjoy your whirlwind year!
- Taken from Lea Salonga's PDI column titled "Backstory"