By JOHN LEGASPI Images by NOEL PABALATE

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There are only three ‘B’ events that Filipinos go gaga for— basketball, boxing, and beauty pageants.

Out of the 3 Bs, beauty pageants, a part from being a non-sporting event, has become a platform to inject beauty, glamour, and fashion with substance through charity and advocacy, giving a much deeper meaning and purpose to what we mean by beautiful.

From conquering our hearts to mesmerizing the entire universe with their beauty, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach and the reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray embody what being a Filipina really means through their compassionate hearts that shine in helping others. Together, they are shedding light on societal issues by helping create solutions and starting conversations in communities.

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co-chairperson of the benefit gala, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach

The two Miss Universes join forces to continue their noble work through a benefit gala that gives fashion a philanthropic sense. Dubbed as “The Universe Gives Back,” the benefit gala showcases the works of designers Rhett Eala, Michael Leyva, Ito Curata, Jot Losa, Avel Bacudio, Cherry Veric, Martin Bautista, and Albert Andrada with proceeds of the event will be given to the queens’ chosen charities—Love Yourself Foundation for Wurtzbach and Young Focus for Gray.

This benefit gala by the Miss Universe Philippines brand, the local branch of the Miss Universe Organization, is spearheaded and co-chaired by Pia Wurtzbach, architect Richelle Singson-Michael, and fashion designer Albert Andrada.

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AGENTS OF CHANGE From left: Wabel Animoza of Young Focus, Albert Andrada, Richelle Singson-Michael, and Ronievinn Garcia Pagtakhan of Love Yourself

Aiming to bring down discrimination and bullying, the two organizations fight the challenges facing those who are most in need in society, particularly the unprivileged youth and the LGBTQI+ community. Love Yourself Foundation, a not-forprofit community-based organization composed of almost 1,200 volunteers, focuses on breaking down the stigma that comes with having HIV by promoting free testing, coaching, and medical treatment. Young Focus, a non-profit organization based in Tondo, Manila, aids kids from impoverished communities in getting quality education from preschool to college through holistic programs that address the needs of these children and their families.

‘Have I done something for people to really, really remember me as someone who touched their lives?’

“Filipino designers are adventurous,” says Andrada. “We’re all ambitious in a way that we’ll do everything just to bring our designs at the forefront of fashion. And Filipino designers work really hard for that.” Each designer is tasked to create a five-piece collection, working with a particular palette, for the benefit gala— red for Leyva, teal for Eala, red for Veric, yellow for Curata, while Andrada will be working on tangerine, Jot on orchid, Bacudio on green, and Bautista on ultraviolet. Bringing life to the creations is Catriona Gray as she will walk the runway together with the participants of Bb. Pilipinas 2019. “Have I done something for people to really, really remember me as someone who touched their lives?” Wurtzbach mused. “In everything I do, I question myself, ‘Maaalala ba nila ako dito? (Will they remember for this?)’”

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