Dear Miss Wurtzbach,
Allow me to first send you my deepest and most heartfelt congratulations on your win at the recent Miss Universe pageant. You have, with your victory, put a smile on the faces of every single Filipino all over the world and made them feel proud to just be Filipino.
The journey toward this ultimate goal of yours didn’t come easy. You had been passed over before (and not just once, either) for the Binibining Pilipinas Universe title. However, you didn’t let this get you down, and instead of sulking and giving up, you worked very hard to make your ultimate dream come true. If there’s a perfect example of perseverance, training and grit, that would be you. And that is why that blue-and-silver crown sits atop your head.
Over the course of the coming year as you reside in New York, you will come face-to-face with many interesting people. You will probably shake the hands of men and women you never dreamed of meeting, much less spending time with.
You will also be face-to-face with many of our countrymen who reside abroad, telling you how they watched you conduct yourself with grace and confidence, how they rooted for you, and how much you deserved the crown.
Every Filipino on the planet will claim you as their shining star, even if they had nothing to do with the hours you spent at the gym with your trainer, sweating off whatever weight you might’ve needed to shed in order to be competitive at that high level; the minutes devoted to perfecting your posture to stand tall amongst the other ladies; the days given to learning how to walk properly in sky-high heels; or the one millisecond it took to come up with an answer to that US bases question.As far as our countrymen are concerned, you belong to everyone.
You will be required to embrace the fact that, at least for the next year, you will be our country’s glowing representative of beauty, grace and confidence. Your training wasn’t only for the pageant itself, but also your entire reign.
There will be millions of pairs of eyes always looking in your direction, not only wishing you well, but also waiting for you to make a mistake, to trip and fall, to look anything less than a Miss Universe (remember Miss Universe 1996 Alicia Machado, and how the world seemed to come down on her for gaining a few pounds?). Do not allow anyone to take you down even one notch, whatever happens, even if that “anyone” happens to be another Filipino.
Now that you’re in my favorite city in the whole world (as a transplanted Filipino who has spent many years here, I am totally biased), allow me to give you pieces of advice that will hopefully make your stay here more enjoyable amidst the responsibility:
- See as much theater as you can.
Surely you have days off, so head down to Broadway (and even off-Broadway) for uplifting, cerebral, magical and entertaining pieces of theater. There are quite a few pieces that just opened in the last year (“Allegiance,” “Hamilton” and “On Your Feet,” among them), but there are also a few closing soon (“Dames at Sea,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “Spring Awakening,” among them). On Mondays, when most theaters are dark, many Broadway regulars hold concerts at various venues in the city (Joe’s Pub and 54 Below are favorites).
- Check out the museums.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Cloisters, the Museum of Natural History—they’re all feasts for the eyes and the mind! Also, head all the way downtown to visit the World Trade Center Memorial. If nothing else, it’s a great place to find peace and quiet in the hustle and bustle of NYC.
I realize that you have a figure to maintain, so pick and choose which restaurants to visit. Ensure that they’re places where you’ll experience gastronomic heaven. However, this city is chock-full of amazing places to eat (even some burger joints will have you experiencing nirvana). Huh … I guess you’ll just have to burn everything at the gym … or …
This is a great place to walk everywhere. Arm yourself with a good pair of walking shoes (and for the winter, thick-soled boots). Dress warmly, and get going. You’ll notice the traffic here can get pretty bad. Sure, not Manila levels, but still. Your feet will be the best mode of transportation, especially once a blizzard hits, and the city comes to a screeching halt.
- Have fun!
This year is going to whiz by like a whirlwind, so mine the whole experience for what it’s worth. Take lots of pictures, see and do as much as you can—and enjoy yourself!