Back in 1994, Charlene Gonzales represented the Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant and landed in the Top 6 of the said competition. She also bagged the National costume award.
“Since it was held here in Manila and I represented our country, it made the experience all the more memorable. I remember how my co-candidates loved the Philippines. I was closest to Miss Thailand,” she recalled.
At the time, Miss India Sushmita Sen was crowned Miss Universe and Charlene said she was “nice and warm.”
“All the girls had their own beauty. It was hard to guess who the winner would be. I guess Sushmita was destined to win. It’s really up to destiny.”
The Philippines was the first Asian country to have hosted the annual competition, first in 1974 and second in 1994. Was it an advantage for Charlene that she was competing in her home country?
“My advantage was the solid support of Filipinos. But the pressure got magnified for me—that was a slight disadvantage,” she said.
Aside from her beauty, she was also remembered for her witty question during the Question and Answer portion. During the Q&A, she was asked how many islands does the Philippines have and she answered, “High tide or low tide?” Going back, she said she wouldn’t change a thing that happened during the event.
“I believe everything happened for a reason. I gave it my all. Just being part of the pageant was already a bonus. It was an honor to compete in my homeland.”
She then gave some advice to Maxine Medina who is currently representing the Philippines in the 65th Miss Universe pageant.
“Savor the moment. Great memories will be made. You have to shine even in the pre-pageant competitions. Before the finals, the Top 15 are chosen already, but the candidates have no idea who the finalists are. So early on, you have to stand out already.”
As to the issue of Maxine getting an interpreter and speak in Tagalog instead, Charlene said it is best to answer in a language she’s comfortable with.
Charlene is currently happy vacationing with husband Aga Muhlach in the United States. She was asked if she would allow her daughter Atasha to join the pageant.
“I’ll leave that up to her if she wants to join, but I won’t insist that she does. But of course, her dad must approve first. I doubt it, though, if Aga would say yes (laughs). In my eyes, she’s still a ‘baby,’ even though she’s 15 already. My twins are enjoying high school life,” she said.