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​I’ll be lying to you if I say I’m hardly crestfallen that I’m unable to watch the Miss Universe 2016 Pageant today in Manila. 

But the thought that I’m more than privileged to have met the man and woman running this most prestigious beauty event in the world assuages me in a way that, yes, I may not be there to witness the world’s most beautiful women gunning for the most exalted crown, but I have talked to and exchanged pleasantries with the Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart (center) and the vice president Shawn McClain (right). 

On Paula Shugart 

In the pageant world and possibly beyond, I have never met such a beautiful woman with an equally beautiful heart as the Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart. 

Who would’ve thought that two years after our first encounter, she would still remember me?     

Here’s what happened: 

During a segment break from last year’s Binibining Pilipinas Coronation Night, I was standing in the hallway to take a breather from long sitting inside Smart Araneta Coliseum when Paula Shugart walked in front of me. 

I called, “Hi, Paula! How are you?” 

“I’m well. It’s good to see you again. How have you been?” Paula took my breath away, not only by making me feel remembered but also by really remembering me from two years ago. 

For a second, I was at a loss for words. Wouldn’t you be if you were in my shoes, when someone like Paula, who could’ve easily forgotten you amongst the more important people she may have encountered in all her travels and business transactions, treated you like a colleague, or as if you’re one of the past Miss Universe winners?         

I said, “I’ve been great and am feeling more confidently beautiful now that I’m standing before the most beautiful president in the world. Thank you for asking, Paula.” 

“By the way, thank you for the token you gave me then. It’s in my office in New York. That’s very sweet of you,” Paula warmed the cockles of my heart, especially that I didn’t even have to remind her of it. 

Back in 2014, Paula Shugart was invited to grace the Binibining Pilipinas Coronation Night, with Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler from Venezuela as one of the judges. 

I remember how kind and humble the MUO president was: when as she, together with all the judges, was walking back towards her seat from a closed-door deliberation of results, she had to pivot her way to me at the VIP section, despite all the cables on the floor, when I called her: “Hi, Paula! I have something for you and Gabriela. When I learned in Cebu that you’re coming to Manila to attend the coronation night, I had to bring these to show you my love for Miss Universe.” 

“Oh, thank you very much. How sweet of you to think of doing that. I am very touched,” Paula said, something to that effect. 

O.K., then, I guess I’ll have to repost my blog on that first encounter of ours: to reminisce my first beautiful experience with this most beautiful boss in the universe. 

On Shawn McClain 

Behind the scene where all those beautiful women from more than eighty countries converge, flash their smiles, wave their flags, and vie for the one most coveted Miss Universe crown every year is the most handsome man whom I’d rather vie for had I been one of the contestants. 

This most desirable man I’m referring to is no less than the Miss Universe Organization Vice President for Business Development & Marketing, Shawn C. McClain. 

Although winning his heart is next to impossible, I consider having met Shawn McClain up close and personal as an added feather in my cap, especially that I’m both a buff of Miss Universe beauties and a bug of intellectual hotties. 

It was not a mere encounter I had with Mr. McClain in Manila summer of last year. I attended the Binibining Pilipinas 2016 Coronation Night where Maxine Medina was chosen to represent our country to today’s Miss Universe 2016 Pageant. It was epic in that it’s not every day that you can rub shoulders with a bigwig representing an organization that you’ve been following all your life. 

I remember it was during one of the segment breaks and I was in the lobby taking my personal break from all the uproar inside Smart Araneta Coliseum. I came across him and then introduced myself as a pageant blogger who flew all the way from Cebu to cover the country’s premier beauty pageant. 

And then he introduced himself too, adding that he was impressed with how passionate I was about pageants. 

I asked him what he thought about Binibining Pilipinas audience in comparison with those at the Miss USA pageant. He told me that “the energy is the same but Filipinos are more fanatic. . . . ” 

We talked about the Philippines’s possible hosting of the Miss Universe 2016 Pageant, which is already happening today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila and which will be telecast by all TV stations. 

What struck me the most was that considering his position in this “most beautiful organization in the universe” called the Miss Universe Organization, not to mention his super good looks, he was genuinely kind, which goes to say that if only all good-looking men on earth were as kind as Shawn, this would be a more beautiful planet to live in.